cassini-huygens era

The Cassini-Huygens era how does an astronomer work? In July 2004 the Cassini mission finally arrived at Saturn and entered into orbit around the planet, visiting the whole system. Even our wildest models and speculations hadn’t prepared us for what we’ve seen since then with instruments performing beyond our expectations. During one freezing cold night,

Good-bye Cassini

04bI was at Caltech in California on September 15 2017, with 1500 other people, colleagues, friends and their families, to witness the «end-of-mission» event for Cassini.

Early in the morning, at 2 am, I got up and drove to the site, the mood was of sober festivity, you might have thought we were gathering for a late night summer open air movie. Stands were handing out memorials and snacks. People were tapping others in the back, smiling,watching the big screen with friendly faces pouring out information and feelings.

Later hugs would start, after the signal got smaller and then stopped completely on the screen, hugs would be necessary to hide the tears, half of them tears of happiness that we had accomplished such a wonderful mission, the rest tears of unavoidable chagrin : after a valiant fight against Saturn’s atmosphere, Cassini’s heart stopped, and we lost a star in the sky, someone who communicated with us for more than 20 years since the launch in October 1997.

01b

A video of the last minutes of the mission as seen from Caltech

Titan exploration into the future

We have finally recently found out which way things are planned to go for future exploration into the Outer Solar System. The decision from the two agencies (NASA and ESA) was posted on: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/20090218.html As an extract: “National Aeronautics and Space Administration and European Space Agency officials decided to continue pursuing studies of a mission