It was a teary morning at NASA today as the Cassini spacecraft, launched nearly two decades ago to suss out the mysteries of Saturn, literally became one with the giant ringed planet as it plunged into the atmosphere in fiery final swan dive of exploration. Out of fuel after billions of miles of travel without any major mishaps or failures, Cassini’s radio signal went silent at 7:55a.m. Pacific Time.
NASA chose to end the Cassini mission this way to avoid potentially contaminating any of the icy moons of Saturn – which could possibly harbor life – with any Earth-borne microbes that may have hitched a ride on the plucky space probe. But before that final ride, Cassini gave researchers literally decades worth of data and discoveries to sift through, from the mysteries of Saturns amazing rings, to the Huygens lander it left behind on the giant moon Titan.
Cassini continued to do science right up to the end, sniffing the chemical makeup of Saturn’s atmosphere and sending the data home even as it met its demise. Check out our coverage of Cassini, and of course there’s much more at NASA’s comprehensive website.
Too much information
Meanwhile back on Earth, the war for your attention while online continues unabated, and the latest annoyance is growing use of autoplay videos, something we can probably all agree that no one likes. Not only can the unexpected audio jar you out of a blissful silence, for mobile users it can eat into those precious data caps.
Now, Google says they are going to do something about it. According to their Chromium blog, users will be better able to manage – and block – autoplay videos on both desktop and mobile browsers. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to block the sites that serve up the things, which may be motivation for them to stop doing so. Google says the changes will hit in versions 63 and 64, so seeing as we’re at version 61 right now, we hope to see those tools soon.
Let’s hope The Terminator never makes the list
It’s Friday of course, and that means movie night for a lot of people, us included, but rather than talk about the latest thing to hit theaters, we’ve got a fun article on how well science fiction films have predicted the future.
From 2001’s rather terrifying prediction of AI behavior to the touch computer in Minority Report to Johnny Cab in Total Recall, there’s been no shortage of hits – and misses – when it comes to Hollywood predicting the tech future. Check out our list of who got it right, and maybe re-watch one of these classics tonight, just for fun.
We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans) on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.
- Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data
- Where did Titan’s thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere come from?
- Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier
- How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer
- A lunar time capsule: 50-year-old moon rock samples to be opened for study