CASSINI’S GRAND FINALE is a short film I had the great honor to produce for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) about the spectacular ending of the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. It is meant as an inspirational and informative piece about what happens in the last months of the mission, and as a celebration of all that this historic spacecraft has achieved.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft (launched in 1997) has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004 exploring the giant planet, its spectacular system of rings and moons. Cassini was also carrying with it the European Huygens Probe which was dispatched after arrival and successfully landed on the moon Titan, becoming the first human made craft to land on a surface in the outer solar system.
In 2017 - after more than a decade of bringing home remarkably successful scientific achievements, discoveries and a treasury of gorgeous photos – the spacecraft is running out of fuel to maneuver. In order to protect the moons Enceladus and Titan, and their potentially life-bearing sub surface oceans, from possible contamination in the unlikely event of a future collision, it has been decided to take Cassini permanently out of service. This is done by crashing the spacecraft into the atmosphere of Saturn - but not without doing some amazing science on the way.
22 times, Cassini dives through previously unexplored gap between Saturn and its rings, collecting new data on the mass of the rings (used to help determine their age), measurements of Saturn’s gravity and magnetic fields (used to help understanding its internal structure) and sending home stunning views of Saturn’s clouds and the rings – seen from a closer range than ever before.
Even up until the very end, Cassini will bring home data, as it tastes the atmosphere of Saturn, just minutes before burning up and becoming part of the planet itself.
It has been an unprecedented honor for me to get to do this film. Being a passionate enthusiast of planetary science, Cassini is the one mission - more than any other – to define my interest in the field, as I’ve had the pleasure to follow its success, from start to end, for a major part of my adult life.
For more information about the Cassini mission and its Grand Finale, please turn here: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/
DIRECTOR – Erik Wernquist
PRODUCERS – Preston Dyches (JPL), Stephen Epstein (JPL)
MUSIC – Cristian Sandquist
WRITER – Preston Dyches (JPL)
NARRATOR – Stephanie Czajkowski
COLORIST – Caj Müller
EDITOR – Micke Lindgren
VISUALS COMPOSITING & PRODUCTION – Erik Wernquist
CASSINI MODELING – Svante Segelson
CASSINI SHADING, TEXTURES & DYNAMICS – Per Jonsson
SATURN BACKGROUND PAINTINGS – Greg Martin
TITLES – Mikael Hall
ADDITIONAL TEXTURES & BACKGROUNS – Svante Segelson
ADDITIONAL COMPOSITING & PARTICLES – Mikael Hall
Thank you NASA, JPL, ESA and the entire Cassini/Huygens team for making such a wonderful, successful and inspiring mission.
And especially; thank you Cassini, and farewell.
The solar system will feel empty without you.