I am not a space person. I never did well with science in school. I never pursued star gazing as a hobby. The whole idea just never really appealed to me.
That being said, holy crap is NASA the coolest thing on the freaking planet.
Sure, there are “cool” things we can all appreciate like good music or a thrilling sports highlight or a tastefully prepared meal. Those take skill and can be impressive in their own right.
But when you see some of the stuff NASA’s scientists are doing, your jaw hits the floor in a whole new way. Their high-definition pictures of Pluto. Their discovery of Earth like planets in the distant reaches of space. And now this: A close up look at Saturn.
That satellite launched 20 years ago and has reached Saturn. Not only that, it’s got enough fuel to do 22 dives between Saturn and its rings, giving us close up looks at both.
Now think about everything involved in reaching this moment.
Not only do you have to do all the planning (where will Saturn be in space in 20 years, will we be able to get a craft there in 20 years, what tools will that craft need, what happens if we’re off by some measure, etc.).
Not only do you have to build a craft that can execute that plan (how much fuel will this thing need, how big or small will it have to be, what technology will it need to take measurements and photos, how do we get those measurements and photos back to Earth, what if something onboard fails, etc.).
But then you also need to launch the craft, execute the plan, make sure the technology doesn’t fail, navigate it to the exact right point in space, and then get the damn thing to dive between Saturn and its rings 22 times and take a bunch of pictures and send them back to Earth.
Like, it honestly is hard enough for regular people to figure out how to take a decent picture of a sunset with their iPhone. These people are doing that times a trillion.
So when Cassini starts sending back pictures and you see them in your Facebook feed, take a moment to appreciate them. Because getting those pictures was no small feat. And even if space or science aren’t your “things,” those images are undoubtedly cool.