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I remember tracing a satellite called Kepler from my encyclopedia on a piece of paper back then. I used to think the solar panels were wings and people lived inside them. I thought they were homes for astronauts in space.

My fascination with space, or with anything related outside planet Earth, began at a really early age. I have to say that I’d read more about outer space than reading about dinosaurs or math or comics.

READ ALSO: How I Learned To Love Science and Philosophy

So, only people with the same sentiments such as mine would understand how special and emotional an astronomy mission ending is.

With this view, Cassini captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance. Photo and caption from nasa.gov

 

HOW I KNEW ABOUT THIS MISSION

I knew of Cassini and Huygens back in 2014 where NASA reported having found evidence that an ocean existed inside Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus, and that the moon might be harboring microbial or basic life forms.

SEE: Images by Cassini from NASA

Although Cassini wasn’t made to do stuff like Kepler (which is made to search for exoplanets and determine which of these has life), it is remarkable how just by studying the ionization of water plumes that Enceladus create, Cassini has opened a new insight for all of us: that we might not have to look too far to know that we are not alone.

It’s worth noting that the Cassini-Huygens project has made a lot of contributions, not just about Saturn and about the possibility of life just within our own Solar System but also testing our theories such as General Relativity.

It wasn’t until this year that I’ve really paid attention to Cassini. In the later first-half of 2017, I’ve learned that Cassini was entering it Grand Finale – a very dramatic way of sending a man-made spacecraft into a planet that has bewildered astronomers since Galileo first saw its rings through his telescope.

LAST PICTURES

SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 – in a relative time to Earth, Cassini finally ended its 20-year mission to and on the planet Saturn.

This montage of images, made from data obtained by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, shows the location on Saturn where the NASA spacecraft entered Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017. Photo and caption from nasa.gov

To be clear, I’m not sad that a non-living thing is about to descend into a planet’s dense atmosphere.

For a lack of better word, I can say I am proud.

WATCH: Documentary of what the mission has discovered so far

I am proud that projects such as this and Kepler were realized during my lifetime.

Someday, when my grandchildren would ask about their science lessons, I can proudly say, “I was one of the many people back then that knew about these first. It was and still are as fascinating.”

Cassini’s Grand Finale. Photo from nasa.gov

There were many space projects that already did so much for the human race and I am also very thankful for those, but it’s rather fitting that I’d address what I think and feel about the scientific missions that I’ve witnessed during my lifetime, Cassini being one – an amazingly phenomenal mission.


To the team that led this incredible project, thank you.

To Cassini, goodbye and thank you.

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