Enlarge / Saturn glows as Cassini spies the planet eclipsing the Sun. (credit: NASA)
I’ve now been writing about science for nearly a dozen years, which means my career more or less overlaps with that of the Cassini probe. Unlike that spacecraft, fortunately, nobody’s directed me to burn up in the atmosphere of Saturn.

But, given the overlap between us, you might think I’d be saddened and nostalgic when the last signal arrived from the ringed planet, which, due to the distance, arrived well after Cassini tumbled out of control and came apart.

After all, we’d no longer be graced by the steady flow of stunning pictures from a set of worlds that are amazingly foreign.
I am a bit saddened by Cassini’s planned destruction, but it’s not going to leave a hole in my emotional well-being, at least not in death.
Instead, the sadness came years ago, from the realization that Cassini would probably be the last of its kind in my lifetime.
Why so sad?
Will I miss the stunning photos? A bit, I guess.

But I wasn’t the sort of person to carefully pay attention to JPL’s servers to track when new pixels made their way in from Saturn.

And, to a certain extent, Cassini was a victim of its own success. Over the years, it sent home so many spectacular images of Saturn, its rings, and its moons, that the newer ones tended to have an air of familiarity about them.
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