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10 Things: Why Cassini Mattered

10 Things: Why Cassini Mattered

One year ago, on Sept. 15, 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft ended
its epic exploration of Saturn with a planned dive into the planet’s
atmosphere–sending back new science to the last second. The spacecraft is
gone, but the science continues. Here are 10 reasons why Cassini mattered…

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1.
Game Changers

Cassini and ESA (European Space Agency)’s Huygens probe expanded our understanding of the
kinds of worlds where life might exist.

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2. A (Little) Like Home

At Saturn’s largest moon,
Titan, Cassini and Huygens showed us one of the most Earth-like worlds we’ve
ever encountered, with weather, climate and geology that provide new ways to
understand our home planet.

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3. A Time Machine (In a Sense)

Cassini gave us a portal to see the physical processes that likely
shaped the development of our solar system, as well as planetary systems around
other stars.

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4. The Long Run

The length of Cassini’s mission enabled us to observe weather and
seasonal changes over nearly half of a Saturn year, improving our understanding
of similar processes at Earth, and potentially those at planets around other
stars.

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5. Big Science in Small Places

Cassini revealed Saturn’s moons to be unique worlds with their own
stories to tell.

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6. Ringscape

Cassini showed us the complexity of Saturn’s rings and the
dramatic processes operating within them.

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7. Pure Exploration

Some of Cassini’s best discoveries were serendipitous. What
Cassini found at Saturn prompted scientists to rethink their understanding of
the solar system.

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8. The Right Tools for the Job

Cassini represented a staggering achievement of human and
technical complexity, finding innovative ways to use the spacecraft and its
instruments, and paving the way for future missions to explore our solar
system.

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9. Jewel of the Solar System

Cassini revealed the beauty of Saturn, its rings and moons,
inspiring our sense of wonder and enriching our sense of place in the cosmos.

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10. Much Still to Teach Us

The data returned by Cassini during its 13 years at Saturn will
continue to be studied for decades, and many new discoveries are undoubtedly
waiting to be revealed. To keep pace with what’s to come, we’ve created a new
home for the mission–and its spectacular images–at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/cassini.

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