CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Captain's Log
June 30, 2014

Ten Years Ago Today ...

"There are times when human language is inadequate, when emotions choke the mind, when the magnitude of events cannot properly be conveyed by the same syllables we use to navigate everyday life. Last night, the evening of June 30, 2004 was such a time."

These words, composed ten years ago, are mine. They began what was to be a record of the climactic events, and my thoughts about them, that capped fourteen years of obsessive dedication and set a course for my life and the lives of many others. As I read them now, I fall again into the stupefying, nonverbal state of consciousness that came over me that night: a disorienting whirl of impressions, from a calming, almost numbing, sense of relief to brain-befuddling "We're not in Kansas anymore" astonishment.

On the night of June 30, 2004, we flawlessly guided ourselves into orbit around Saturn, and in doing so, took up residence in the house of the Sun's most glorious planet. Our long voyage to this faraway place was over, and we were about to embark on a scientific exploration that would make history. It was hard to take it all in. I was certain that evening there was nothing we could not do.

The last decade has been the kind that can define a human life. Wandering a distant, alien wilderness of endlessly moving worlds, all of us under the commanding and splendidly garlanded presence at its center, one can surely be forgiven for feelings of rapture and sacred calling. It changes you. It has changed me.

So, today, I will think about it all ... setting the ship to sail that night on the high seas of Saturn, the magnificence and deep knowledge with which we have since been rewarded, and how we have come so intimately to know this remote sector of the solar system in which we now reside.

And I will leave with all of you the entirety of my words, written to document the transforming events that surrounded that night ten years ago. They tell of just one life about to live one of the greatest adventures humanity has ever undertaken. They tell of a conviction, born of history and observation, that there is nothing we cannot do.

Carolyn Porco
Cassini Imaging Team Leader
Space Science Institute
Boulder, CO

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Alliance Member Comments
jsc248 (Jul 22, 2014 at 8:05 AM):
Hi Carolyn,
When looking at these images from Saturn and it's moons, you cannot help but be in awe at the sheer vastness and grandeur of the Saturnian system. These images are not only full of great science but have a beauty that is almost impossible to imagine. I have been using this site since the beginning and I have never lost that fascination with Saturn and it's moons. As an observational astronomer I have always viewed the planet when in view and can still remember the first time I viewed it almost 40 years ago!
The images are a reminder of just how small we are here on Earth and of the beauty that circles all around us. You and the CASSINI team do an amazing job bringing us these amazing images and I thank you personally and I am sure for everyone who visits the site.
Thank you.
John Cave (UK).
NeKto (Jul 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM):
I also thank Roy Miranda, for the poignant reminder we are all in this together, wherever we are. no matter what part of this little speck in the universe we call home.
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Jul 12, 2014 at 9:35 AM):
Thank you, Roy Miranda, for reminding us how astonishing and paradigm-shifting it is that we are now at Saturn ...VERY far from Earth and ever farther from Burundi! (And thank you for your kind words, too)
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Jul 12, 2014 at 9:34 AM):
Thank you, Roy Miranda, for reminding us how astonishing and paradigm-shifting it is that we are now at Saturn ...VERY far from Earth and ever farther from Burundi! (And thank you for your kind words, too)
Roy Miranda (Jul 9, 2014 at 7:04 AM):
Dear Carolyn Porco,
I logged on to your site from the NASA Daily Digest site, what an amazing person you are, your way of expression, in putting Billions of countless words into a few words of covering what you want to get across as information, just brilliant.
I am just blown away with your article on Saturn, I writing to you from a place called Bujumbura, Burundi, right in the heart of Africa, where things move slow and easy and everyone tries not to draw to much sweat with anything, the sun comes up at 6am and goes down at 6pm, we are in Tarzanís home, just the way the world should look, hardly any pollution and green jungles and abundance of fresh water lakes.
Reading your articles and looking out of the window is weird feeling, you taking us round Saturn and here I am sitting looking out the window and the people outside have not been to the next little village 5miles down the road. No electricity for hours some days and we off to Saturn mind blowing.
Keep up the exploration; I just cannot imagine what the next 10 years is going to bring about.
Red_dragon (Jul 1, 2014 at 9:16 AM):
I've been a long time without posting here, but thank you sincerely, Dr. Porco for sharing your love of space exploration with us. May the remaining years of the Cassini mission be so fruitful and full of exciting discoveries as the previous ones.
PiperPilot (Jul 1, 2014 at 5:12 AM):
You're right Carolyn. We're not in Kansas anymore and we can't go back. It has been a splendid ten years. Awesome in the true sense of the word. I thank you and the team for your dedication. You folks are the greatest.

I do have one wish. I wish I could have the Cassini build team make me a car. It would be so nice to have a vehicle that could go that many miles, last that many years without a service visit, and still not be recalled!!
rulesfor (Jun 30, 2014 at 10:19 PM):
Thank you, Dr. Porco, for sharing your passion and wonder for all things Cassini. You have made this adventure at Saturn come alive for me and countless others in a way no one else possibly could have. I can't wait to read the eventual book that you've hinted at before and absolutely must write, please!!!
kentgibson (Jun 30, 2014 at 3:50 PM):
Madamme Porco, Your recognition of the importance and significance of events in our space adventure distinguishes you from most. I am in awe of your eloquence and your devotion to your mission. We are truly blessed to have you traipsing around with we mortals.
Margarita Mc (Jun 30, 2014 at 1:59 PM):
Thank you, Carolyn, for being able so eloquently to express the wonder that this amazing mission evokes.