Discussion: NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Burns Up In Skies Over Saturn After 20-Year Journey

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Amazing!

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One item not mentioned here is that this atmospheric self-destruction finish will incinerate any microbes that might be adhering to our robotic space explorer.

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We think…

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The heat of entry will atomize anything carbon-based. Even metal will turn molten. It will basically be an asteroid-like slag heap by the time it reaches the bottom of Saturn’s enormous gravity well.

Amazing and inspiring that people can build stuff like this. And even still can.

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4.9 billion miles traveled for 3.9 billion dollars. That’s about $0.80 per mile…not bad. Wonder what Donny’s per-mile expenses tally up to for all his golf outings?

We think…

There’s still hope.

What I described is based on calculable physics. Science assumes no miracles. It’s always conceivable that assumption is wrong and a divine intervention will occur. Gravity has always been calculable in the past and we assume Nature is repeatable. It’s certainly conceivable though that tomorrow we wake to find gravity has stopped operating as we die in space. In that sense, you’re quite right.

ETA: BTW, this assumption of repeatability is why Creationism is not science. The possibility of a divine miracle having happened in the past and of all physical evidence being a sort of joke that god has played on us can’t be disproven in any absolute sense. But it’s not science, and the reason it’s not science is because it violates the assumption that nature is repeatable. It’s an interesting philosophical point, that all of science is based on an unprovable assumption.

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And what I describe is how we always try and take everything into account to the best of our ability, but occasionally miss something, I think…

You didn’t describe anything. You just said, “we think”. You probably think the sidewalk will support you when you walk. Yet there’s more science behind the effects of atmospheric entry than there is for your assumption that the sidewalk won’t suddenly open up and you’ll fall into an abyss with your next step. It’s a matter of familiarity. I’d guess you’re more familiar with SciFi, than with chemistry – right? The human mind acclimates to whatever is familiar and is naturally skeptical of anything that’s unfamiliar. That’s not a bad trait, but you should make sure you’ve taken the time to understand the science before you make assumptions about it.

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Why do i feel like i just read the obituary of someone who was a genuine hero?

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These are the kinds of things I think of when I push back against one of @steviedee111’s anti-modern world/everything is shyte rants.

Yes, we have problems.
Yes, mankind has done (and will continue to do) horrible, horrible things.

But every once in a while, events like this confirm for me that the United States of America really is irreplaceable. No other country on earth can mount this level of technical expertise as often as we have. Most would not do it even if they could.

(although, the ESA Rosetta mission was pretty cool, albeit not completely successful)

This is the best of America, and yes it is important.

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A lot of scientific discoveries go against what we know. That’s what I’m describing here. If I had to be my life on it, I’d assume all earth life forms were killed when that satellite fell onto Saturn. But shit happens all the time and some could have managed to survive through some mechanism or life form we don’t understand as well as we think, or don’t know about yet. And I think this will be especially true in parts of the universe where a lot of outside forces work different or are new compaired to what we know about on or near earth or in some places on or in earth we haven’t been.

So how do you explain life on earth? Hmmmmm?

@dickweed

Almost no scientific discoveries go against “what we know”. Many go against what we expect, which is something quite different. Relativity, with its variable experiences of time and distance would be a rare example of a scientific breakthrough (not a discovery exactly) that went against what we thought was well established, fundamental science. Another would be QM’s probabilistic nature of matter. But a further example of the adaptability of life on earth (the crabs) is entirely consistent with our fundamental theories of physical science. That doesn’t mean it’s not surprising to an oceanographer or a marine biologist, but there’s no violation of basic physics here. You’re assuming a violation of very fundamental physics. That needs more support than “life exists in extreme environments”.

I’m actually extremely supportive in general of not assuming too much. But saying that every assumption must be suspended – including all of basic physics and physical chemistry – is ludicrous. Hence my example of the sidewalk opening up and swallowing you.

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Is that snark? I can’t tell. I hadn’t expected a determined attack on fundamental physics here on TPM, so I’m not sure if you’re continuing that attack or being sarcastic.

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It’s easy to be skeptical when you strip all intellectual context. Waste of your time and socalista’s time, though.

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Clearly, it is Friday. Your Snarkmeter 2000 needs recharging.

FYI, there’s a beer for that.

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