The Cassini Spacecraft is a testament to long term thinking. The craft was launched in 1997 and traveled for 7 years before entering the orbit of Saturn. It is now on the Grand Finale of it’s mission, having already changed what is known about our solar system. It will diving in and out of the area between the icy rings of Saturn and the planet itself once a week until, on it’s final orbit, it will enter the atmosphere of Saturn where it will transmit data to scientists until it burns up like a meteor.
As with so many NASA projects, there is a University of Colorado connection. Cassini carries an instrument called the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) that was built by the Laboratory for Atmosphere and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado. In the 13 years that Cassini has been orbiting Saturn and it’s large moon Titan, the data from UVIS has allowed scientists to learn more about the chemistry, clouds and energy of the planet and it’s moon.
Boulder has a reputation for being a town of weird hippies, but it is also a city of scientists. LASP is one of the leading space research centers in the world, and many NASA projects have a CU connection.
You can learn more about the weird, and the really smart, people of Boulder on the Banjo Billy Bus tour. Yee HAAAWWW Cassini!