In the past 10 years, no spacecraft has consistently delivered the wonder of our solar system like the flagship-class NASA-ESA robotic spacecraft Cassini. No surprise, because it’s orbiting the amazing planet Saturn, world of rings and moons. June 30, 2014 is the 10-year anniversary of Cassini’s insertion into orbit around Saturn. It’s hard to convey in words how wonderful the Cassini images have been since that great day. They are stark, pleasingly symmetric and startling in their beauty. Carolyn Porco, who leads the imaging science team on the Cassini mission, had this to say today on CICLOPS, the official website of the Cassini imaging team.
On the night of June 30, 2004, we flawlessly guided ourselves into orbit around Saturn, and in doing so, took up residence in the house of the sun’s most glorious planet. Our long voyage to this faraway place was over, and we were about to embark on a scientific exploration that would make history. It was hard to take it all in. I was certain that evening there was nothing we could not do.
The last decade has been the kind that can define a human life. Wandering a distant, alien wilderness of endlessly moving worlds, all of us under the commanding and splendidly garlanded presence at its center, one can surely be forgiven for feelings of rapture and sacred calling. It changes you. It has changed me.
And it has changed all of us, Carolyn, who have been privileged to view these images. Thank you and congratulations, Cassini mission imaging team!
Want to see some of the images? Here are a few, from past EarthSky posts:
Bottom line: June 30, 2014 is the 10-year anniversary of the Cassini spacecraft’s insertion into orbit around Saturn. Don’t we live in an amazing time of history?
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.