Bobak Ferdowsi Profile picture
Sep 14, 2017 16 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I made the mistake of imagining what it would be like to be Cassini, watching Saturn grow larger & larger, sending my discoveries home...
Cassini the brave; given its last marching orders, there are no more commands to come, no plan for the next sequence.
Just a planet full of people, 900 million miles away, listening intently.
Cassini is fulfilling our last ask, flying toward Saturn at thousands of miles an hour, attempting to send back every bit of science it can.
But I know as Cassini approaches Saturn, the tiny reaction control thrusters used occasionally throughout the mission will come to life.
Pulsing, fighting to keep the antenna pointed at Earth, trying to correct for the disturbances caused by interaction with the atmosphere.
The frequency will keep growing until they’re firing full time, using the remaining propellant from a 20 year mission. They won’t be enough.
The unrelenting forces of friction will overwhelm Cassini.
The spacecraft detects errors & attempts to fix them; it runs remedies, but there are no solutions to this scenario, no ways to resolve it.
"Fault detected; attempting recovery. Changing to backup systems"
The antenna drifts away from Earth.
The errors are piling up now, much faster than the spacecraft can attempt recovery.
Parts of Cassini start melting & tearing off as the atmospheric density increases, the glow possibly visible from Earth with telescopes.
And then it will be gone, vaporized.
90 minutes later, the signal from Cassini washes over Earth for the final time, and we’ll say goodbye, hugging one another.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known #GoodbyeCassini

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