This is my humor hit for the day, courtesy of the fine blog Bad Astronomy, which is dedicated to ridding the universe of silly notions about space science.
A blogger is telling us that NASA plans to send the Cassini spacecraft into the planet Saturn to use its supply of plutonium to ignite the planet and create a mini-star so Earthlings can settle the moon Titan with some degree of comfort.
No matter that a few conspiracy folks said the same thing would happen when the Jupiter probe Galileo was sent to a fiery end in September 2003. Last time we took a close look at the King of the Planets, things were looking pretty much like they were back in ’03. Some new storms on the Jupiter. Some new volcanoes on Io. But no sign of planetary ignition. No matter that we’ve detonated significant quantities of plutonium in Japan, the Pacific Ocean, Nevada, and other test sites. The Earth hasn’t gone up in flames. Yet.
The thinking, by the way, of sending these probes to a fiery end in the upper atmospheres of these giant planets is to preserve possible life on the moons from contamination.