Today is a historic day in astro science: NASA is crashing its $4 billion Cassini spacecraft into Saturn.
Instead of being left in orbit, and possibly crashing into one of Saturn’s moons, contaminating any life(!) that might be there, NASA has chosen this spectacular suicidal dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. After more than four years beyond its expected life time the spacecraft has no fuel left to adjust its course any longer.
At around 14 o’clock MET the Cassini spacecraft, which spent 20 years in space and has sent us amazing views of the Saturn system, will dive into Saturn’s atmosphere, sending final data for as long as possible before burning up like a meteor.
When Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in 1969, he carried a piece of muslin fabric from the left wing of the original 1903 Wright Flyer in his spacesuit pocket. There was also a piece of wood from the airplane’s left propeller.
The 1903 Wright Flyer was the first successful powered aircraft while the Apollo 11 spacecraft made the first manned mission to the moon.
As of today, no human will ever get physically near to the other planets of our solar system apart from earth, moon or mars. But thanks to the wonderful artwork of Katie Paterson, Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole), we now have the opportunity to experience at least the smell of our neighbours.
"Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole) is a scented, white candle which burns down over 12 hours. The candle creates a journey through space via smell; as if taking off from Earth, journeying to the Moon, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, the stars, all the way into a Black Hole. The candle is formed of 23 layers, each containing a unique scent reflecting each place or planet. The Clouds and Troposphere smell like ‘water, humidity, wet basement, washed towels’ and the Ozone like ‘the clean smell after a thunder storm.’ The Moon is scented like ‘burnt gunpowder’ and Titan, Saturn’s Moon with ‘sweet and bitter almonds, cherry, slight benzene.’ Mars, an ‘old penny’.
‘Produced for the exhibition at the Frac Franche-Comté, Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole) was designed after an analysis of our universe’s molecules. This work shines like a candle composed of different strata whose perfume corresponds to the odor of each star, planet and space making up our system: a smell of gunpowder for the moon, geranium for the stratosphere, raspberry and rum for space and sulfuric acid for Venus… From Earth’s forest smell to odorless empty space and Black Holes, Katie Paterson invites us on an olfactory voyage to the ends of the Earth.’" FRAC Guide