Cassini Enceladus Flyby Happening Now has ‘adopted’ the NASA Cassini mission, something near and dear to the heart of Star Trek’s science advisor Caroline Porco. Today Cassini is in progress of making an unprecedented “in your face” flyby of Saturn’s geyser-spewing moon Enceladus in order to gather key data. More details on how you can keep up with today’s event below.

The Cassini spacecraft, orchestrating its closest approach to Enceladus to date, will skirt along the edges of huge Old-Faithful-like geysers erupting from giant fractures on the moon’s south pole. Cassini will sample water-ice, dust and gas in the plume. Analysis of the data may eventually provide clues as to whether or not the moon could harbor life.

Cassini mission scientists have been kind enough to blog along as the events are taking place, so that we may get the most up to date information coming from the spacecraft. At this point, the mission specs and trajectories have all been input into the spacecraft’s computer. Now, all there is to do is cross our fingers and wait as the flyby takes place. “The next time we hear from Cassini will be tonight after the flyby at around 7 p.m. Pacific,” says Cassini Scientist Amanda Hendrix, “while flying through the plume we will be 120 miles from the surface. So we’re “dipping our toes” in the plume a little more than we’ve done before!”

To follow along with the mission, check out the scientists’ blogs, and view the Cassini at Saturn Interactive Explorer (CASSIE). You can also watch a movie depicting the flyby specs here.

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Oh my God 1st!
This was also done with the European Space agency or am I thinking of another mission?

Kayla will have this right but I think you are thinking of the European built Huygens probe which Cassini launched onto the surface of the moon Titan…i think it was a year ago

Now all we have to do is design a spacecraft that is dual-nacelled, can carry up to 500 people, and can clear the entire solar system in roughly 11 seconds at Warp 9.

forget mars this is where the lifes at

How many planets have hi-def trek? 1…

Thanks Anthony! All I can remamber was something to do with Saturn, hence my asking!

Huygens landed on Titan in January of 2005. Cassini is the first human probe to orbit Saturn, although 3 previous probes (Pioneer 11, Voyagers 1 & 2) have flown by the planet.

1. Anthony you are indeed correct. The Cassini-Huygens mission has been a joint venture by NASA and ESA. NASA is overseeing Cassini while ESA designed and build the Huygens lander which was deployed to study Titan.

5. Don’t discount the possibility that someone on Enceladus is picking up our transmissions of the newly remastered Trek! For that matter, anyone in the Universe within 41 light years of Earth could be picking up at least TOS by now! :-D

Aw, this is cool. Nothing like a fly-by close enough to kick up a rooster tail…..WOO-HOO!

While you’re at it, fellow fans, don’t forget to follow the many other unmanned missions that NASA has in progress, some of which were launched many years ago.

Perhaps the most fascinating discovery of recent times emanating from our unmanned spaceships is the realization that the so-called “Pioneer Anomaly” is real — and that there is an unknown force accelerating our space probes whose very existence has defied the best efforts of our physicists to explain.

An description of the latest in robotic space exploration, and much more, can be found at various Websites including that of the Planetary Society, located in Pasadena, California, of Carl Sagan fame.

Kayla, I’ll write this story tomorrow for a local TV news operation in Atlanta. For the non-scientist out there, why is this exciting? What does it teach us? Is there a buck to be made? (I know that’s crass, but it helps ‘sell’ the story.) Any input would be helpful. Thanks.

Kayla does the Cassini probe have the capacity to detect potentialorganic substances the plums ?

Can’t wait to see what happens. Enceladus has proven to be very interesting as have a few of Saturn’s other moons.

I’m not planetary scientist, but even I know that the substantial presence of water on Enceladus is highly indicated by spectral analyses of its geysers. Since water is necessary for all known forms of life, Enceladus therefore exhibits a critical precondition for the existence of extraterrestrial life. There may be an undersea ocean on Enceladus that could harbor exotic forms of life. If such an ocean exists, it would be the only known place where liquid water exists in abundance in our Solar System.

The spectral signature for water has also been detected beyond our Solar System.


You know why this is exciting? Because it’s the one area where our self-absorbed, navel-gazing species can actually stop what we’re doing with our utterly insignificant lives (in a universal sense) and consider the vast infinitude of the Universe for even just one moment.
You know what it should teach us? That if human civilization collectively understood just how vast the universe really is, just how astonishing all of creation can be, we’d stop all our meaningless violence against one another and concentrate instead on experiencing real wonder and meaning by traveling outward to the stars.
But NOOOOOOO. We’ve got suicide bombers and pro-lifers with religious beliefs all begining and ending with the idea that Earth is not only the most important place in all of creation, but that the creator of all things has nothing better to do then concern itself with what each individual here on this planet believes and does.
A true, collective understanding of our place in the Universe is the only thing which will completely transform our civilization.
Until then, we remain the most egotistical species ever created, and our own worst enemy.
Whether one seeks enlightenment, or God, the only place to find either is somewhere amongst the stars. Until then, humanity is simply paddling upstream to it’s own demise.

RMBurnett — I agree wholeheartedly with your desire to bring in the scope of all things. However, I work in a very pragmatic field and so my questions remain. I do not believe that embracing a living/working sense of space detracts one iota from the overwhelming wonder of looking up at the vastness. My questions remain. They are the ones I must ask as a journalist. The ones I ask as a man, I gladly share with kindred spirits.

You Know what’s crazy some guy that graduated from the high school in my town just flew in the space shuttle.

The CASSIE site is moving really, really slowly.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

Bird of prey decloakes a bad wooden actor in Klingon makeup lowers his parascope and shoots at it

#14 Given the fact that there are geysers oceans under the ice makes sense. We might nothing more thensimple bacterial otr we might find an eco system similar to the vent eco systems in the depts of our oceans either one would be milestone event.

11. One of the reasons this flyby is so exciting to scientists is that it is the closest ever flyby of Enceladus and one that takes Cassini straight through the plumes. Cassini’s particle analyzers will be collecting data on the composition of the plume material. This will help to learn more about the origins of the plume, how it formed, and if there is anything unexpected, we might get more ideas about the potential for life. “Follow the water” has been NASA’s slogan as of late, and Enceladus sits well with the public due to it’s life supporting potential. As far as money making goes, there’s really none to be had here. Just the good ol’ furthering the knowledge of mankind!

There are some great resources for the news media which I encourage you to check out. Go to their main page which currently has links to press releases and other goodies.

12. Yes! Cassini has instruments to measure volatiles (water and CO2 mostly), organics, and other minerals.

Thanks, Kayla. I’m sure you’ll be watching TV in Atlanta tomorrow, so you’ll see how I incorporate your statement into my script. ;-)
Seriously, I love any tidbits and I actually do think someone will use very unexpected bits of info to help motivate further space exploration. It may be a profit motive, or just plain curiosity. We’ll see. You go to the Amazon to find the cure for cancer. You go to space to learn about Earth. It’s all wonderfully connected.

The Huyens probe landed on Titan In January 2005. They even think there’ cryo Volcanoes on Titan.

#23 I seem to recall that TItan was one of the other place in the solar system that they though might harbor the possibility of life.

Yes some scientists thought that there could be lifeforms like you would find in Geysers at yellowstone park like at mammouth Hotsprings that NASA scientists are studying right now. Also the Marinara Trench those worm creatures that live around the black smokers .Life forms that breatj Mehane.

Hey CmdrR – I’m in Atlanta. What station do you work for, and what time should I tune in to see your report? I work at home, so I’m here most all day.

Scott B. out.

I protested the launch of the Cassini probe. If it had malfunctioned in the earths atmosphere it would have been environmentally catastrophic. That said, thank God things went off without a hitch. It still doesn’t seem worth the risk, but it’s good something of scientific value has been illuminated.

In completely unrelated circumstances, I’ve had a crush on a girl named Cassie that works or worked at my local K-mart for about a little over a year now, although I only seem to bump into her once every 4 to 6 months… (the employees come and go.) And I’m not quite Jim Kirk with the ladies, so who knows.

15 – With all due respect, I disagree with your assertion that the only place to find God or enlightenment is in the stars. I believe you can find that within yourself. If you can’t know yourself, how can you know if you’re enlightened? As for God, that’s a more religious discussion for elsewhere, and a bit more personal.

Kayla- Love reading your columns – I am humbled by women like you and Caroline who are experts in such groundbreaking scientific fields.

Your Good Friend#10- When I first read about the Pioneer Anomaly I was intrigued. It would be a major coux to get Stephen Hawking’s take on this phenomenon. Do you think that would be at all possible in the future Kayla?

I’m at CBS46 — still checking (thurs a.m.) for actual video/pics. I only see the NASA animation.

It’s a vo at noon, unless someone unloads a gun into someone else, then it’s dead.

ahhhh… starting to get all Star trek V with talk of God…

Sir Isaac Newton asserted that the more he knew about how the universe worked, the more he believed in God… that like a master clockmaker, thar was an intelligent design (so ta speak) to it all, but as human beings we only see glimpses of the gears and shadows of the springs.

protested? as in out marching? Really? I never heard of such a thing ta protest a probe… unless it’s the Whale Cigar….

#10 as i said afore:
Ain’t no mysterious anamoly on flybys- it’s just us Earthers bein’ friendly to all who pass by… the good vibes we exude to weary travelers- come on down… have some tea… invade us… maybe turn our cattle ta mulch… be ye V’Ger, Xindi bugs, or even tha Whale Cigar, it’s all good.

so are they going to be broadcasting this thingy migigger or what?

If we could find life on one of those moons wouldn’t that wonderful, it would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that life may exist beyond our solar system.

Life does exist outside the Solar system but they’re probably not interested in Earth(Terra) very much cause were not advanced enough yet!!!!

they’re probably not interested in Earth(Terra) very much cause were not advanced enough yet!!!!

reasons include:
global starvation
inadequate education
American Gladiators
religious/political divisiveness

#36 Irish Terran there is another possibility, maybe few if any civilizations survive to reach interstellar travel. Look at the issues that we have here on earth. Global Warming, with melting ice caps, the emergence of new diseases, drug resistance of old diseases, declining fertility among populations and the though diminished, the possibility of Global Nuclear war, then there is the long term prospect of dwindling resources. We are slowly poisoning our world with chemicals. Our long term picture is not promising. Maybe evey civilization goes through these same or similar phases of development, and probably few if any survive Life may be more common then we think, but interstellar civilization may be the exception rather then the norm.

I aggree with you #37 and#38…..
Star Trek is an idealistic representation of Earth’s(Terra’s) Future.
It is far more likely that any Space worthy races would concentrate on more important things than meeting a violent and war torn race such as ours….
But you have to admit that it’s fairly logical that other races have evolved on other worlds far beyond our rate of technological advances!!!!!!!!!!!!
therefor , it is likely that they have seen Earth(Terra) and seen no reason to investigate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

# 39 Irish Terran yes that is a possibility that there may be other races. The real question is will they be friendly and the answer is not necessarily. Superior civilization and technology does not mean that they will be friendly or enlightened morality. They could look upon us the same we we look upon lab animals. or worse they could view us as a potential rival and threat that need to be dealt with. There is science fiction that you might want to check out Its called The Killing Star By George Zebrowski and Charles Pelligrino, the premise is that a your civilization once it achieves Interstellar capability, its goal is seek out intellligent life forms and eliminate them before they do the same to you. It an interesting and thought provoking sci fi Novel. On the other had they could also be friendly like the Aliens in Close Encounters, who knows

#8—I wonder if they will view it as a “historical documentary”?

#38—Excellent point. We often chastise ourselves for our inadequacies, and for some reason, assume that other sentient species would not have similar issues.

I never said they’d be enlightened,
I also agree with this statement and just think that Earth(Terra) may not have strategic or resource value….
Thanks for the book name anyway….

Check it out: “Mirror Universe,” a Star Trek inpired art exhibition by Devorah Sperber opening in NYC, March 20, 2008 at Caren Golden Fine Art,

That sounds very good however i’m still less than sure that I prefer it. Anyway will look far more into it and choose personally! :)