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Cassini carried to Saturn:
616,400 Signatures and Paw Prints
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Tucked away securely on the Cassini spacecraft, in a shallow aluminum box with two plates around it to protect it from micro-meteoroids, is a DVD disc imprinted with 616,400 electronic signatures and paw prints of people, dogs and cats from 81 countries on Earth.
CASSINI SIGNATURES DVD
These are real signatures, not just a printed list of names. Human writing, as well as inky footprints from cats and dogs, were scanned into a computer and burned into the DVD.
If future visitors to the Saturn system view the contents of the DVD, they may have to look in their history books to recognize some famous signatures among the thousands. Celebrities who signed include entertainment stars Patrick Stewart and Chuck Norris. Cassini descendant Mary Cassini of Australia contributed her signature. The signatures of Jean-Dominique Cassini and Christian Huygens, for whom the Saturn mission was named, were copied from 17th century documents.
The disc was attached to Cassini before launch by JPL after Planetary Society volunteers spent months sorting, counting, and scanning all of the signatures from an enormous stack of postcards and boxes of letters, as well as the inked cat and dog paw prints from a few proud pet owners. PLANETARY SOCIETY »»
The DVD surface is imprinted with images of the flags of the 28 countries that represented 99.5% of the signatures.
The aluminum box, with a thermal blanket flap over it, is mounted on a pedestal on the side of Cassini. NASA suspects the disc could last a million years or more orbiting the Saturn system. Of course, we won't know until 2008 what NASA will do with Cassini after its mission.
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