NASA's Cassini probe has been exploring the Saturn system for almost a decade. In that time, it has fundamentally changed the way we look at the Ringed Planet and its many moons – not to mention the rest of our solar system. But which of its observations rank among Cassini's greatest contributions to science?
In this interview with Universe Today, Cassini scientist and movie-consultant Kevin Grazier discusses the mission's most groundbreaking discoveries. His top picks? The discovery of active venting on Enceladus (and, more specifically, that that active venting has a direct impact on the composition of Saturn).
"That's pretty exciting," he explains, "because we see an active object venting material... [and] there aren't a lot of active objects in the solar system."
Another biggie that Grazier singles out: the presence of water and other hydrocarbons on and beneath the surface of Titan, not to mention the possible existence of volcanism – and, consequently, life – on the mysterious moon.
"How cool is that... how science fiction-y is that, that one of the most interesting places to look [in the solar system] is a lava chamber or a magma chamber on another planet that could be a cauldron suitable for sustaining life," says Grazier. "I think that's really, really exciting."