Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cassini

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

This picture brings to mind many science fiction stories and songs I have read and sung. I used to dream about being an astronaut and traveling to the far reaches of our solar system, then striking out for uncharted space. This is the kind of vision I would have when I imagined exploring the galaxy in a space vehicle. I can almost feel the immense loneliness of looking back at a planet containing everyone I know, and eight billion other humans.

The truth is, this picture was taken by a camera on board a man-made vehicle in orbit around the planet Saturn. The photo shows Saturn, the rings of Saturn, and Earth as a tiny blue dot just to the right of centre in the picture (the bright one). It was taken by the Cassini probe built by NASA and sent to a distance of 1.4 billion km from earth. This is of course still within our solar system; yet, it is hard to imagine distances larger than this.

Elton John sang about the loneliness of space in the song Rocket Man. I wonder what he would think of the photo.

Rocket Man (listen to it here)
Elton John and Bernie Taupin

She packed my bags last night, pre-flight
Zero hour, nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then

I miss the Earth so much, I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time‘til touch down brings me round again to find I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no, no, no, I'm a rocket man
Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did

And all the science, I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time ‘til touch down brings me round again to find I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no, no, no, I'm a rocket man
Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone

4 comments:

  1. One of my favorite Elton John songs.

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  2. Comment via FaceBook:
    Mark Myhre says, "Very cool photo. And as for loneliness... sad and somewhat incredible that there are people walking around in our cities who feel just as lonely as if they were orbiting Saturn by themselves."

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    Replies
    1. Good point Mark. Thanks for that reminder.

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    2. “When you're surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you're by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don't feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you're really alone.”
      ― Fiona Apple

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