Weekly Column: Cassini probe helps us look into the future

BY Emma hungaski • September 22, 2017 • 6:00 a.m.

Last Friday, Sept. 15, the Cassini Probe ended it’s nearly 20-year long mission exploring Saturn by entering the planet’s atmosphere, effectively destroying it. Throughout the years that Cassini was active, it consistently and reliably provided Earth with information about Saturn and its moons, and although the spacecraft is now gone, its legacy will continue to show the importance and amazement of space exploration. With the future of NASA currently unknown under President Trump, it is important to take this “end of an era” to reflect on the huge successes and failures that NASA endured with the Cassini spacecraft and to learn from its history to improve upon our future endeavors into space.

As with most of of NASA’s projects, the Cassini-Huygens probe has a long history and faced many struggles even before its journey into space began. From the beginning when Cassini was first proposed in the 1980s, it was not well received. Even before it got off the ground it had to go through budget cuts, be remodeled and reworked countless times, and confront protesters that did not approve of its use of plutonium-238 as a fuel source. (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/09/cassini-grand-finale/539850/) However, despite the fear that the launch would spread radioactive material across the world, the Cassini mission prevailed and brought with it one of the most successful missions that NASA has ever funded.