It left Earth in 1997, arriving at Saturn in 2004. After Huygens touched down on Titan, Cassini has largely been forgotten by the public while superstars like the Voyager twins set new distance and longevity records, and the Spirit and Opportunity rovers discover an ancient, wet Mars.
And yet, Cassini soldiers on, quietly studying the Saturnian system. In fact, it’s been doing such a good job (and is still in good working order) that it’s had it’s mission extended 2017.
I felt that it needed some recognition, so this week’s update for the Pro edition of Solar Explorer features a detailed Cassini model.
A lot of work it was too.
Unlike Juno, Cassini has exposed instruments and struts all over it, which made it hard to convert to polygons. I’m getting the hang of spotting “shortcuts” now, so I was still able to come in well under my 2,000 polygon budget, to keep the speed up on all classes of Android devices, while keeping the model reasonably accurate.
My favourite feature of Cassini would have to be the sinister looking thermoelectric power generators that stick out around the base of the craft. Each of these produces electricity for the from heat generated by the radioactive decay of plutonium stored within the generator.
They kind of remind me of a Dalek’s gun from Dr. Who.
New Horizons, currently on it’s way to Pluto, got the Dalek ray gun treatment too, with a spare generator left over from Cassini bolted on.
There’s still lots more to come for Solar Explorer, but there’s only so many hours in a day…