The voyages of the Cassini spacecraft and Huygens probe to the Saturn system are something I have followed since before the launch in 1997, until the very last day of the mission in 2017. On this day last year, Cassini finished it’s mission and dived into Saturn’s atmosphere, sending data for as long as it could. This final course of action was chosen as the grand finale to preserve the pristine nature of Saturn’s moons (to avoiding leaving debris floating around.)
I have followed Cassini most of my life, and still shed the odd tear of joy over the hope it’s always given me, its images, all that data… and sadness that a scientific experiment I’ve looked at in awe for so long is over. It’s given me so much hope because, as it prepared to launch, I was an unhappy teen just escaped an unpleasant home life, getting a grant to go study biomedical science. It launched when I first graduated. Cassini represented everything about the potential and excitement of science to me, what humans can achieve when they aren’t being asshats to each other, and everything optimistic about exploring our universe. I know it sounds strange, but the mission’s been a constant as I’ve grown and life has changed for the better. It deserves to be remembered for all the wonder it’s created in the world.
Cassini & Huygens live on in data. Here is the Morse code art I made to remember it. It encodes goodbye messages to the Cassini spacecraft & Huygens probe, and a goodbye-for-now to Saturn and 23 of it’s moons. (There are also Morse spelling errors and correction sentences encoded. Because I’m a human, not a space robot.)
Find out more about Cassini and it’s legacy at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov