Not content with upending our views of the Solar System and beyond, NASA has decided to conquer the world of entertainment too it seems.
On Saturday, September 8, it was announced that the team behind the Cassini mission had won an Emmy for their coverage of the “Grand Finale” of the spacecraft in September 2017. The scientists involved were understandably pretty excited.
"This award represents the special magic that happens when we combine the stunning imagery and powerful science from a mission such as Cassini,” Michael Greene, the director for Communications and Education at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in his speech.
“I am tremendously proud of our Public Engagement and Media Relations teams for turning the end of a mission into a new beginning for communicating the wonders of our universe.”
The Emmy is for Outstanding Original Interactive Program, and it was awarded based on JPL’s coverage of the end of the Cassini mission. As you may remember, the mission’s finale had plenty of exciting and somber moments as we headed towards the spacecraft’s demise.
The mission was given the moniker Grand Finale, with a campaign running online to highlight some of the achievements from the 20-year mission. The spacecraft was ultimately purposefully destroyed in the atmosphere of Saturn, taking stunning images of the planet and its rings as it plunged to its end.
The Emmy recognizes the job the team at NASA did to communicate this end, including regular updates on social media, live Q&A sessions with the team, a short film about the mission’s history, and regular news about the end of the mission.
“Thank you to space fans, if you're a current space fan or future space fan,” Veronica McGregor, manager of JPL’s Media Relations Office, said in her speech. “This is for science, for science literacy, and discovery.”
While it has been suggested this was NASA’s first Emmy, that’s not entirely true. The agency’s Glenn Research Centre scooped one back in 1998, while the Apollo programme was also given one in 2009 on the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing.
Still, it’s a fantastic achievement for the Cassini team. This pioneering spacecraft might be gone, but we really did get a quite wonderful look into its finale like no other spacecraft before.