September 15, 2017

"With Cassini running on empty and no gas station for about a billion miles, NASA decided to go out Thelma & Louise-style."

"But rather than careen into a canyon, the plucky probe took a final plunge into the object of its obsession. Just how obsessed? It's* 13-year mission  to explore the strange world of Saturn went on nearly a decade longer than planned. It completed 293 orbits of the planet, snapped 400,000 photos, collected 600 gigabytes of data, discovered at least seven new moons, descending into the famed rings and sent its Huygens lander to a successful 2005 touchdown on the surface of yet another moon, Titan...."

Writes NPR.

_____________________

* Oh, NPR, how far you've plunged. 

44 comments:

rehajm said...

Litterbugs!

SDaly said...

Wouldn't even worry about grammar, but the *tone* is Entertainment Weekly.

Curious George said...

"NASA decided to go out Thelma & Louise-style."

Did the muslim's insist?

John Nowak said...

A bittersweet day, indeed. Cassini was an amazing mission.

D said...

Would you rather a sidebar reference to:
Dwight Yoakam "Thousand Miles fron Nowhere"
Pink Floyd "Astronomy Domine"
The movie Interstellar

I would bet the rings of Saturn that rhardin as Interstellar (starring A Hathaway) on dvd.

John Tuffnell said...

"Litterbugs!"

It is supposed to burn up upon entry. The trajectory is designed to destroy everything so nothing lands, so I read.

More like burning without a permit.

John Nowak said...

>The trajectory is designed to destroy everything so nothing lands, so I read.

Nothing to land on in Saturn, but that's my understanding as well.

AJ Lynch said...

Is Cassini a female name?

John Nowak said...

Named for Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered the gaps in Saturn's rings. Also, and I didn't know this, his family made the first topographic map of France.

Mike said...

Disgusting. Cassini is not plunging to its death in a symbol of hopelessness against the patriarchy, NPR. It just isn't. It is an extremely successful scientific expedition that did exactly what all the old white men who programmed it wanted it to do, to the benefit of all of us. And after years of great data beyond what we even expected it finally gave us a super close-up look at Saturn's rings and atmosphere, finally succumbing to gravity (much as Hillary did on 9/11/16) on its way to a noble end, having completely fulfilled its mission.

Sebastian said...

"Oh, NPR, how far you've plunged." You appear to assume they once had standards.

Anyway, Cassini is an exercise in cosmic white supremacy in so many ways. Glad it's almost over.

John Nowak said...

Well, the Project Scientist is Linda J. Spilker, but she is white...

Oso Negro said...

But, hey! All the DJs speak with resonant, well-modulated voices.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Thelma and Louise was probably one of the dumbest movies I can recall seeing. Two such stupid, ridiculous, hysterical women deserved to die. There were so many ways that they could have avoided trouble. They could gotten OUT of the trouble they created by just leaving the scene of the bar parking lot. NO one knew them there. Vanish you dumb broads. Change cars if you must because theirs was pretty distinctive..... but no...they just stumble on and continue being idiots.

The real tragedy was that they took that beautiful 66 Thunderbird convertible with them.

Fernandinande said...

NASA decided to go out Thelma & Louise-style.

They shot somebody and drove into a canyon? (Or am I recalling the Simpsons episode?)

I hate phony headlines like that, but at least they're a warning about the likely phoniness of what follows.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm criticizing the "it's."

Jay Vogt said...

.....Oso Negro said...But, hey! All the DJs speak with resonant, well-modulated voices.

I dunno. Have you listened lately? There's a lot of uptalk from their correspondents. I realize they've got to attract a younger audience, but it drives me batty.

Jay Vogt said...

....Ann Althouse said...I'm criticizing the "it's."

Yes, we got that. Hence the "NPR Writes linc.

Jay Vogt said...

Ann Althouse said...I'm criticizing the "it's."

Worse than "Mic", I suppose.

n.n said...

It is. It's. Its. That's one small step to...

Close observation to the edge of our solar system.

Speculation from an incompletely, and, in fact, insufficiently characterized and unwieldy (i.e. chaotic) Earth system to inference of a universe and beyond.

John Nowak said...

I'll go along with SDaly and Mike. "It's" is an editing glitch. The "Gee Whiz!" tone is what truly grates. A stunning accomplishment for science, technology, and international cooperation reduced to a movie reference.

Jay Vogt said...

oops or "linc"

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

No one can write anymore because no one reads anymore, and no one can proofread because the children running the media now grew up relying on spellcheck rather than an intimate and hard-won knowledge of the English language.

Mike said...

For my part, writing "old white men" was a deliberately provocative projection. It is difficult to parody the Left though, because irony is dead for half of America now and the SJWs are trying to kill it off for good.

John Nowak said...

Well, I got the joke. Just thought I'd play along.

"Old white men" isn't true, but it's closer than comparing the last minutes to Thelma and Louise.

tds said...

what does it even mean: "discovered *at least* 7 moons"?

Smilin' Jack said...

*Oh, NPR, how far you've plunged.

Not as far as the NY Times:

The spacecraft disintegrated at about 7:31 a.m. Eastern time...Cassini’s final bits of information, collected by radio dishes in Australia, arrived at Earth at 7:55 a.m. Eastern time after traveling about one billion miles from Saturn.

It takes light 90 minutes to travel a billion miles.

John Nowak said...

Hate to defend the Times, but...

Loss of signal happened because as Cassini descended into the atmosphere, aero forces got too big for its attitude control system and the antenna wandered off target. Cassini broke up some time after that.

Smilin' Jack said...

...aero forces got too big for its attitude control system and the antenna wandered off target. Cassini broke up some time after that.

"Some time" = a few seconds at most. NYT just got the time difference to Australia off by an hour, and nobody noticed.

John Nowak said...

I believe Smilin' Jack is correct. Good catch!

stever said...

My thesis adviser would agree with you. What is "it"?

Gahrie said...

Litterbugs!

The purpose of having it burn up is to prevent any possible contamination from Earth organisms of several of Saturn's moons which might have life.

JAORE said...

The "Gee Whiz!" tone is what truly grates.

For me too.

Although there is a fair amount of actual information in the mush.

Rusty said...

"NASA decided to go out Thelma & Louise-style."

Mission engineers decided to destroy a not too bright machine.

Joe said...

The article suggests that the engineers suddenly asked, "Now what?" The plunge was part of the original mission plan.

John Nowak said...

>The plunge was part of the original mission plan.

Also, it gives the impression that the last command given was to dive into the atmosphere. Orbits don't work that way. They were likely committed half an orbit ago.

MadisonMan said...

"Updated at 12:30 PM"

NPR invisibly corrected the mangling of its.

yoobee said...

Is it just me, or did the writer/editor also mess up ". . . descending into the famed rings . . ." with mixed verb tenses? The present participle "descending" is inserted into the middle of a list of other verbs in past tense.

JaimeRoberto said...

Thankfully they didn't send the probe crashing into Uranus.

But more importantly, what were the guys in the control room wearing?

John Nowak said...

>But more importantly, what were the guys in the control room wearing?

My impression is polo shirts with the mission logo.

You have to wonder if that tradition started for a reason...

Joe said...

They were likely committed half an orbit ago.

Much longer than that! Several months back, the team announced that would change the orbit inclination to collect some specific data.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

I think it's a good summary, actually. NYTimes had an awesome multimedia piece on all the amazing photos it captured and information discovered.

Conservatives will probably believe it because this was all happening in space and with detailed pictures, which involves realms that they are less interested in finding ways to deny.

John Nowak said...

>Much longer than that! Several months back, the team announced that would change the orbit inclination to collect some specific data.

Well, there's starting the program, and there's reaching a point where you can no longer abort it. I believe they used a gravity assist from Titan to bring their periapsis into Saturn. It might have been possible to adjust their orbit at Titan, not that they have a reason to.

cf said...

Say, toothless revolutionary, you are going off-topic, but for you
Leftie Supremacists, you get your way, and besides Everything circles back to climate change, so it is never off-topic aye?

I will rebut your off-topic malign of "Conservatives: the reason I do not "believe" in your climate science is because the folks insisting on it only offer one solution: a single government, far away with no input for each of us.

That's bullshit. Something else is going on, no matter how honest or false the science is. The-ones-who-would-be-Kings fly off to Bali for their conferences for goodness sake.

Like Instapundit says, I will take cLimate change seriously when they do.

And back to point, yeah, applied science! Cassini and the amazing teamwork, engineering and creative effort, with the data and images to ponder for years to come, what is not to Love?

Salud.