“All the atoms of our bodies will be blown into space in the disintegration of the solar system, to live on forever as mass or energy.” -Carolyn Porco
Launched in 1997, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has shed unprecedented views on our Solar System’s majestic, ringed world. From the discovery of new, outer rings to infrared hazes beneath its clouds to surprising storms, the nature of its rings and structure atop Saturn’s north pole, Cassini has delivered beyond any reasonable expectations.
A false-color image highlighting Saturn’s hurricane over its north pole, inside the much larger hexagon-shaped feature. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.
But even more surprising, perhaps, was the huge amount of information we discovered about the Saturnian moons, including the active liquid methane on Titan’s surface, the origin of Iapetus’ two-toned nature, the capture Kuiper Belt-object status of Phoebe, and the subsurface ocean, erupting in spectacular geysers, on Enceladus.
This is a false-color image of jets (blue areas) in the southern hemisphere of Enceladus taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2005. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
Due to these worlds’ potential for life, Cassini will de-orbit into Saturn’s atmosphere in 2017, to avoid contamination. Go get the whole story ...