Today at approximately 11:30 pm New Zealand Time, the world will say goodbye to Cassini. And while we know that all things must end, to see a mission that has been going on for most of my life come to an end, it is quite emotional.
Cassini has given us so many things. You could go on about the science and the discoveries and the fact that Cassini helped us understand things we thought we knew, but were actually wrong. You could. But nothing will say as much as some of the most beautiful images ever given to humanity.

Cassini, you go where no one has gone before and where no one will ever go in my life time. The team that ran your mission are some of the unsung heroes of our time. When we do go back to the mysterious and beautiful world, I hope we come as a society where these people are the true celebrities.
You flew well, little craft. Your discoveries shall echo through the ages. Go now, knowing that people who you have never met, nor even existed when you left, are looking up to you today. You have inspired them to go beyond.
In front of you is the unknown, but behind you, is everyone.
Cassini
1997 – 2017


If I may steal one of the greatest quotes from the legendary Carl Sagan:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, 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 endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
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.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. 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 with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

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