Five years ago today, something incredible happened, but not many people noticed. Humanity landed a spacecraft on the surface of an alien moon after a seven-year journey. There was not a live human being on the spacecraft in literal sense, so the world and media turned mostly a blind eye.
But that’s a narrow way to look at it. The Huygens lander was hand built, carried by the hand built Cassini spacecraft – a labor of incredible dedication by scientist, engineers, technicians and more that devoted a huge chunk of their lives to send it.
And it took incredible photographs as well as recording audio as it descended. We made it, flew it there and have the pictures to prove it. It changed my life – “Outside In” is the direct result of the Cassini-Huygens mission and my mission to put the incredible exploration of our universe in the context so that we will one day understand what a huge event took place five years ago.
A quote from the man himself is appropriate today, for many reasons:
“How vast these Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.”
–Christiaan Huygens, “New Conjectures Concerning the Planetary Worlds, Their Inhabitants and Productions, c. 1690.