YOU, ME AND CASSINI: Vicarious Exploring


Saturn! Lovely Saturn! My favorite of all the planets in our solar system; after Earth, of course. How wonderful it would be if we could explore Saturn the way the spacecraft Cassini is doing it. Well, who says we can’t? In fact, we are; some of us just don’t know it.

All we need to do is step aboard the Internet and link up with the many official sources that share with us all of Cassini’s exploratory ventures. No space suits required, and if we become weightless it can only be due to something unusual about our seating arrangements or our refreshments at home or the nearest Internet Cafe’.

Getting to know you: Like any serious explorer, we must become as knowledgeable as possible about both our destination and the spacecraft we will be depending upon to get us there. For Saturn, a Google search on her name will produce a bountiful list of information sites. My favorite and the most informative, in my opinion, is here at “nineplanets.org”. It gives you all the vital information about Saturn, including a glorious image of Saturn taken by none other than Cassini. This site also includes a listing of other sites that provide more commentary and information about this beauty.

An equally important requirement is that we need to know everything we can about the spacecraft we will be depending upon for our explorations. In this case Cassini started as Cassini-Huygens, and we need to fully understand why the double name and its significance. Both NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have websites devoted to Cassini, but I prefer ESA’s site because of the very informative background information it provides. I suggest you select the link for the ESA site to learn the details about our exploratory spacecrafts. Notice I am now using the plural for spacecraft because Cassini started out as Cassini-Huygens and you need to go to the link to fully understand why.

An explorer’s diary today is a set of very important and highly technical data that is vital to our getting to really know Saturn and her many moons. In the days of early explorers this data was often in the form of a daily log or diary in which observations and experiences were recorded and described. We can share in all of this by simply using Google to track Cassini and survey the list of links Google provides. We can also receive regular diary updates by joining Twitter and by following @CassiniSaturn. Using these resources we will soon be a fully involved member of the exploration team.  Yeah, I know we are here at home, but so is everybody else except that wonderful spacecraft and its roving camera eyes. For now this is a good as it gets. Well, there is one exception; telescopes.

Do it yourself exploring is a possibility by becoming an amateur or professional astronomer. In both cases you will be using a variety of telescopic devices to study not just Saturn but the universe.  This is fine and is encouraged, but it will be different than what we can learn by following the data trail of exploratory spacecraft such as Cassini.  For the amateur who has limited telescopic access, following Cassini and the many other research spacecraft out there puts us right up there with the explorers. What they find is shared with us. The thrill of discovery is a bit secondhand, but it is still immense.  This latter experience can also be ours with regular access to some high quality telescopes. For the do it yourself explorer here are three good links to excellent telescope sites that will give you first hand contact with the celestial sea. (1)GRAS, (2)LightBuckets, and (2)Slooh. Costs vary and rules for access and processing also vary. Now there are other similar sites and Google will give you a listing, but I have experience with both GRAS and Slooh and found them excellent resources.

Summary: Well, I do both, using telescopes and riding along with Cassini. Because of Cassini’s immediate proximity to Saturn and her moons, I find the real thrill comes from riding along with her. A clear example is Cassini’s most recent venture into Saturn’s auroral environment as seen in this link.  For me, and for now, nothing helps me explore Saturn better and more intimately than Cassini.  Why don’t you come aboard? I promise you will never forget a moment of your time spent with Cassini and Saturn.

CREDITS:

Image of Saturn and Cassini spacecraft – artists rendering courtesy of NASA/ESA/JPL

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Explore posts in the same categories: Cassini-Saturn, Deep Space Explorations, Humankind and Exploration, Precious Planet, Robotic Exploration, Scientific Research

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One Comment on “YOU, ME AND CASSINI: Vicarious Exploring”


  1. Here is a Cassini update. Close flyby of Saturn’s moon, Titan. http://bit.ly/a7WEnZ


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