Thursday, July 01, 2004

Success!

Saturn has a new satellite and its name is Cassini! The Saturn Orbit Insertion burn was executed flawlessly last night and Cassini is now in orbit around Saturn.

I watched a portion of the NASA TV coverage before drifting off to bed. There was a strange temporal disconnect watching the NASA engineers cheering radio confirmation of each mission event during Orbit Insertion. It's also present in the media coverage this morning. The stages of Cassini's maneuver were being reported as happening now, in the present. "Cassini is now passing through the ring plane." "We're five minutes from main engine start." But in fact, every signal from Cassini indicating a mission success had been traveling through space at the speed of light for an hour and a half before being detected on Earth. It seemed odd...and makes you wonder what "now" actually means.