I have been captured by anything about Saturn ( maybe because my Great Grandmother was named Satunalia?) in a way that Mars- my most favorite planet ever does not. Something about that quiet giant triggers my imagination every single time I think about it.
Specifically, one of the things that always tugged at the dark side of my imagination was Cassini’s final trip to Saturn.
Cassini fought to keep it’s antenna turned to Earth so that it would be able to continue to transmit data until Saturn pulverized it. I learned little things like Cassini went into Safe Mode, that it was trying to correct it’s failing systems as it navigated into Saturn- so I know this is a leap but I’m a writer so that’s ok- but Cassini was fighting to stay- operational.
It was trying to figure out how to live.
My imagination runs wild at this- on one hand I am full aware that Cassini was built and programmed to do just that- solve problems and keep itself operational.
But I do that every single waking moment of my life, so I can relate.
In the mornings when I’m walking my dog, Hamish ( pre-dawn before I go to work ) I pull out my phone and pull up my Star Chart apps and I work out where the planets are and when I come across Saturn I’ll stay there for a bit, looking up into the sky and wonder-
What if Cassini hadn’t been destroyed? What if it had survived? Would it have sent a message back saying ” Hey here’s some more cool data to add to the collection? ” Or would it have sent a message back saying ” Think I’ll be keeping my atoms in one place instead of letting them sail around Saturn until the Universe burns itself out. Later days Bitches. ”
Me. I know which message I would have sent back. But like I said we are talking about a machine that was crafted, molded and programmed and it did what it was designed to do. But as we design these computers and robots I can’t see that these machines, which are extensions of ourselves, won’t eventually learn what fear is.
And that thought really does scare me.
Cassini’s Grand Finale