Dear the Internet,
So, I was one of the 30 people selected to be present at the CSIRO/NASA-run Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre for the final moments of the Cassini probe last Friday (15 September) before it plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn. And it was one of the most emotional nights of my life.
I wrote about it before on this very blog, but I also wrote this piece for the Guardian, entitled Tracing Cassini’s fiery death was like watching a heart monitor flatline, which was written immediately after negotiating my white-knuckled way down the hillside from the CDSCC site in Tidbinbilla after multiple warnings from staff about the propensity of local kangaroos to hurl themselves at passing cars.
One thing that I’d like to highlight was this bit:
“Half an hour before the signal was due to vanish, the skies above the complex cleared and everyone trooped outside to where the DSS43 was pointed at Saturn, which looked like an unusually bright star in the western sky. By this point, the data of the final transmission had passed the orbit of Jupiter and was heading towards that of Mars.”
And here’s a pic I took of that moment:
It was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience, and a much-needed reminder that we’re really pretty amazing when we work together on problems together, we humans.