As I write this, the Cassini space-probe is in its final hours, plunging towards Saturn at some 23,000 mph. The decades-long mission has been a monumental success, both on account of its scientific revelations, as well as the inspiration the images flowing back from the ringed planet and its moons has offered to the public at large.
For a fantastic review of the Cassini mission, accompanied by some truly epic images, be sure to head over to NASA’s website and grab a copy of The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini, a free eBook (multiple formats) that has been made available to the public:
This free NASA e-Book celebrates Saturn as seen through the eyes of the Cassini spacecraft.
The Cassini-Huygens mission has revolutionized our knowledge of the Saturn system and revealed surprising places in the solar system where life could potentially gain a foothold—bodies we call ocean worlds.
Since its arrival in 2004, Cassini–Huygens has been nothing short of a discovery machine, captivating us with data and images never before obtained with such detail and clarity. Cassini taught us that Saturn is a far cry from a tranquil lone planet with delicate rings. Now, we know more about Saturn’s chaotic, active, and powerful rings, and the storms that rage beneath. Images and data from Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus hint at the possibility of life never before suspected. The rings of Saturn, its moons, and the planet itself offer irresistible and inexhaustible subjects for intense study. As the Cassini mission comes to a dramatic end with a fateful plunge into Saturn on Sept. 15, 2017, scientists are already dreaming of going back for further study.
Over a period of 13 years, Cassini has captured about 450,000 spectacular images within the Saturn system, providing new views of the “lord of the rings” and a plethora of iconic images. To honor the art and science of Cassini, this book was developed collaboratively by a team from NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). While these images represent the tip of the iceberg—each telling a story about Saturn and its mysterious moons—our hope is that the mission will inspire future artists and explorers. The sheer beauty of these images is surpassed only by the science and discoveries they represent.
In the modern world, it’s sometimes easy to grow ambivalent to the wonders that surround us. We should never, ever take things like the Cassini mission for granted – imagine the excitement anybody from previous times would have had if shown these magical images of another world far beyond our own. As you look through the book, be sure to raise a glass to Cassini, and all the engineers and scientists behind the mission.