SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is not just for big payloads, it can also throw light things into space very fast. And that has significant implications for the exploration of distant destinations in our outer solar system—particularly the ocean moons of the giant planets.
Cassini is no more. At 10:31 according to its own clock, its thrusters could no longer hold its radio antenna pointed at Earth, and it turned away. A minute later, it vaporized in Saturn’s atmosphere. Its atoms are part of Saturn now.
Cheers erupted in the Von Karman auditorium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory early Thursday morning as a squiggly green line on a graph developed a crisp, tall peak, signifying that the Cassini spacecraft was calling home after surviving its first plunge between Saturn and its ring system.