For all of the recent chatter about the Space Shuttles, for all the ripples of excitement I feel at the idea of sending or being an extraterrestrial explorer, I have to admit that unmanned probes like Cassini and the Voyagers, along with Hubble, provide a shockingly high return on investment.
But I’d still volunteer to go on a one-way trip to Mars.
New from Cassini, here’s Saturn with its moon Tethys in the foreground. Tethys is a bit more than 1,000 kilometers in diameter. For comparison, the Earth is about 12 times the size of Tethys—still laughably small next to the size of our ringed neighbor. Consider, also, that Tethys was about a quarter million kilometers closer to Cassini than Saturn when Cassini snapped this picture.
The size of things in the universe is truly mind-boggling, as is the beauty of those things. Yay for space science and the workhorse satellites that keep us looking up.