The miracle of Cassini

Courtesy of Joe Cambria who observes – quite rightly – that I seem to like this kind of thing.

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17 years ago

The exploration of outer space is a fundamentally communist enterprise powered by collective thinking.
Yuri Gagarin proved this in 1961.
If westernised capitalism had not gone out of its way to undermine the soviet state and scientific system, human beings would be living in outer space now, rather than fighting each other in religious wars and drooling over stockmarkets that produce nothing of real value.

17 years ago

It is remarkable and inspirational. (not “a miracle” though) Thanks Nick and JC.

Sacha Blumen
17 years ago

parkos – I doubt that very much. How much would it cost for people to be living in outer space? How much would it cost for city-like collections of people to be living in outer space?

Sacha Blumen
17 years ago

Space exploration is great! I like receiving the monthly magazines from the Planetary Society which often include photos from missions (recently, there have been lots of spectacular photos from the Cassini mission).

I thought that the “pale blue dot” photo (at this link) was fabulous – to copy from that web-page:

Carl Sagan wrote, of this image “Reflections on a Mote of Dust”:

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

“The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Excerpted from a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996. Image from Voyager 1, 1990.

Kevin Schnaper
Kevin Schnaper
17 years ago

Space exploration is foolish, but it gives us hope, perspective and meaning. Like art.

I think the value of foolishness is way underrated. Why bother to eat if you can’t laugh or dream?

17 years ago

Wonderful ! Thank you Nicholas and Joe.

Don’t they simmer and ooze with stories to tell, sitting out there!

A part of me could happily have me die just to get out there and explore it all.

(The clarity and depth of imagery brought to us lately has been breathtaking; and brought right here into your own screen. Inspiring in many ways, indeed.)

Does me in, I just love it.

David Walker
17 years ago

Have you tried Celestia?

An artificial recreation of the Universe that you can move through in three dimensions (and that’s updated every time Cassini sends more postcards home), it’s the next best thing to being there. Google Earth for space, but more fun.

Cassini’s finest moment, as seen by Celestia, plus other shots.