I'm late to my reminisces on the end of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Covering the death of a space robot was one of the most special moments in my time so far with @scifri.

Other people are doing the amazing work of reminding us what this robot showed & taught us:
But more importantly, those vistas = deeper understandings of the complexity of Saturn's rings, moons (hello, Titan, ilu), and even magnetosphere.

The end of Cassini was a sad, emotional moment for journalists...

...and the scientists and engineers, many of whom had been involved, working together, for DECADES. And talking to THOSE people was the great privilege of my 2017.

I may never do a piece of reporting/editing as fun as this piece about the Cassini Virtual Singers: mission staff who wrote & performed parody songs like 'Hooked On Your Data,' 'Take Me Out To Titan,' 'Somewhere With Rings,' and 'The Sound Of Science.'

And all of this culminated at 4 a.m. Pacific on the lawn of Caltech, where hundreds of people watched the last signals come in from the Deep Space Network, 83 minutes after the craft had orbited into & been crushed by the atmosphere of Saturn.
.@cintagliata and I were there interviewing people as those last signals came in. Many cried. Many had brought kids who had grown to adulthood in the time they had spent, metaphorically at least, circling Saturn.

I know it feels like a lot to ask people to think about missions to other planets right now. Even the 'potential signs of life on Venus' got bumped from @scifri coverage this week because the West is on fire and our climate is in catastrophe.
But it's also true that mostly-abstract ideas like how a moon of Saturn has an OCEAN can still bring out the qualities we have and need to make Earth liveable, bearable, and worth fighting for. Selflessness. Creativity. Long-fricking-term planning. Delayed-fricking-gratification.
Even joy! in an activity you are not the most skilled at (the Cassini Virtual Singers come in a range of talents and DO NOT CARE!) If anything makes me cry when I think about Cassini, it's that. We can do things, folks. We just have to want to.

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