It’s happening tomorrow: the Cassini probe is being ordered to destroy itself by crashing into Saturn. It seems harsh. You’ve sent a tourist to an exotic location to go crazy taking vacation snaps, and then instead of a return trip, you reward them with a request to send more pictures of their suicide. I guess it is a spectacular way to go.
And then you learn that those photos were taken with a one megapixel camera. No, really. It’s got some fancy filters to extract more information from its photos, but otherwise, I’ve got better cameras in my electronics junk drawer. It was launched in 1997, so I guess that is to be expected.
Clearly, what this means is that NASA must launch more robots into space with more up-to-date fancy cameras. I know, the budget is tight, but if it will help, I’ll give them the phone out of my pocket — it has a higher resolution camera on it.
Until that next robot goes skyward, you can watch the final moments of Cassini early tomorrow morning. The timing is perfect: it looks like I can just check in right around the time I get up and watch the death of a space probe before I have to go off to work.