Tuesday, April 15, 2008

cassini lives on

Oh, happy day! Today NASA announced that the Cassini spaceraft, which has been orbiting around Saturn and its moons for the past four years, will have its life extended until 2010. The mission, which has provided scientists with gobs and gobs of new data and images from the Saturnian neighborhood of our solar system (including the ridiculously cool shot you see here of a total eclipse of the sun), was originally scheduled to end this July. I interviewed Cassini imaging team leader Carolyn Porco back in 2006 for Discover magazine, and she said she thought it would be "colosally shortsighted for NASA and Congress to halt the Cassini mission [this year], when it has become one of the most phenomenally successful endeavors we've ever undertaken." Apparently, her bosses agreed, and I couldn't be happier for the program, which was actually also one of the last missions that my uncle worked on before retiring from the European Space Agency (the mission is a joint NASA/ESA/Italian Space Agency project).

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