If I want to be reminded of the vastness of the universe and its smallness all at once, I can just think about Cassini-Huygens. On October 15, 1997, a rocket took off from just up the road from my house and now, six-and-a-half years later, it has (almost) made it to Saturn. Friday, the little probe passed by the first of eight moons it will visit and dutifully sent us some pictures. According to the timeline, it will make it to Saturn on July 1, where the Cassini spacecraft will drop the Huygens probe into the atmosphere on January 14.
I find this so awesome. There are so many launches around here, it’s hard to remember if I saw that one six years ago, but a rocket I probably watched soar through the skies above my house is now taking pictures of a moon that nobody new existed 100 years ago.
I got the title for this post from the Saturn Observation Campaign page. It is the original name given to the planet by the Assyrians around 700 B.C.