I was thrilled at the success of the Cassini space probe that went into orbit June 30. Next few years will bring back fantastic pictures and data. With all the bad news in the world, it is good to see some positive news about our urge to explore. For the true story and pictures visit
Cassini's web site.
My Cassini science FICTION story (it's short).
Several images from Cassini show, what looks like, another spacecraft orbiting Saturn!
Mission controllers, at JPL, look at their screens in utter amazement.
No other spacecraft is known to be orbiting Saturn, no Russian, American, Chinese. "What on Earth - we mean Saturn - could this be?"
Scientists speculate. Maybe a problem with the imaging?
Someone on the team playing a practical joke and inserting this picture into the data?
An alien spacecraft, from another solar system, has wandered into our solar system and been captured by Saturn's gravity?
The space craft looks like our unmanned Voyager probes which flew past Saturn 20 years ago and are now leaving the solar system. Is this space junk, like that, from another solar system which has wandered into our solar system and been captured by Saturn's gravity?
There is no sign of any radio signal. Craft looks very very dusty.
NASA scientists are able to determine orbit of said object.
Cassini's orbit isn't likely to make another close pass by this object. Few images of object are available.
A debate breaks out with-in Cassini mission control. "Should we change the mission plan and go back to the vicinity of this UFO, or go on with our original itinerary?"
Each time Cassini goes around Saturn, it is in a different orbit looking at moons and things. No upcoming orbit will take it near the UFO again in this mission plan.
Scientists debate weather they should alter the plan or go on with the valuable science goals of the current Cassini itinerary.
NASA appoints a "Blue Ribbon Panel" to discuss the options.
This mystery makes big headlines all over the world. For a while, Art Bell devotes his entire radio show to the topic.
NASA decides to make this UFO the first target for an extended Cassini Mission after the original 4 year mission is complete. Chances are good for an extended mission. It may take several years to figure out how to safely go into that orbit again and glide by the object at a slow relative velocity. The Blue ribbon panel devises a strategy.
Some scientists speculate that we may have discovered a spacecraft that wandered into our solar system from another part of the galaxy. Another world, like ours, may have launched it to explore the outer planets of its solar system. That spacecraft ran out of power and drifted for possibly 100,000 years. Wandering into our solar system, it was captured by Saturn.
Questions are asked.
Does it have a plague describing its parent civilization? What happened to its parent civilization?
We put those kind of plaques on our Voyager and Pioneer space probes. That was a true case of "long range planning." thinking about the questions that some "beings" may have if they find the plague in some future millennium.
Finding possible evidence that we aren't alone in the universe pushes the news from ugly mid east wars off front pages.
Ending my short story of science fiction.
Update November 2018.
Many years after I wrote this idea for fiction, an alien object has been seen passing through our solar system. Oumuamua. There's even speculation, from an astronomer at Harvard, that it could be an artifact, like a solar sail, from some civilization in another solar system. One reason for this speculation is that Oumuamua has accelerated, some, as it makes its way back out of the solar system. This, like the effect of solar radiation on a solar sail. Is this a solar sail?
There are other, possibly more mundane, speculations for what could cause this acceleration. Could it be a comet? Out gassing from a comet after it's been heated from passing the sun could give the body a push. Oumuamua has no comet coma or tail, which one would think would be visible from out gassing. Maybe the coma was just not visible? Unlike my fiction idea about the artifact orbiting Saturn, Oumuamua isn't planning, as far as we know, to come back around and allow us another look. It's well on its way out of the solar system and we don't have the money to create a craft to catch up for a better look.
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