Mission Cassini ended its space watch just before the weekend. We already miss it. A message to say goodbye and look ahead.

Cassini (1997–2017)

А few days ago NASA’s probe Cassini ended its 20 year long mission by plunging into Saturn’s ghastly atmosphere.

For 13 long years (it took 7 years just to get to Saturn), the probe orbited around the ringed giant and made some pretty crazy discoveries. The most, most crazy? A few months before its programmed end, Cassini discovered the presence of an underground salty water ocean on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, that seems to provide the conditions for life as we understand it to develop. We don’t know for sure though.

With such a cliffhanger, let’s hope we get a new season, with a new probe, and a new mission to infinity and beyond? The US are developing a program to set up a base on the moon in the run up to a inhabited mission to Mars, whilst the Japanese Space Agency has announced its intention to send a man on the moon too.

It took 83 minutes for the final transmissions to travel the 1,5 billion kilometres between Saturn and Canberra, the location of the NASA receiver. Cassini contributed to science until its final moments by taking measurements of Saturn’s atmosphere and live streaming it to Earth.

By studying our place in the universe, we understand the uniqueness and the preciousness of our planet Earth. We may have discovered a potential water network and nitrogen oceans, but we have found nothing coming near Home. There is still no trace of lemurs outside of Madagascar, unfortunately. But we keep on searching. In the meantime, we have to do everything in our power to protect life on our planet.

Thanks to scientific institutions who keep on pushing the boundaries of knowledge further and further each day. The end of a mission and the beginning of new ones. Because there is no Plan B for our planet.