The Space Show Goes To Saturn

In 1996 The Space Show broadcast instructions on how to get your name aboard the Cassini spacecraft, which was to be sent to orbit Saturn.

During 1996 we collected names, signatures and messages from listeners, as well as students and staff at The Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, and sent them to NASA. These were scanned and placed onto a DVD, which was placed onto the Cassini spacecraft.

In addition to listeners who sent their names via us, it is expected that some listeners chose to send their names independently.

Listen or download an example of our invitation to listeners (7 min 29 s - 7.0 MB)

Listen or Download one of our interviews with Robert Mitchell then Cassini Programme Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, in which we mention the Names-To-Saturn effort. (16 min 27 s - 15.4 MB)

DESIGNED by Cassini Science and Mission Design Manager Charley Kohlhase, the disk cover shows the flags from 28 of the 81 nations represented on the disk.

The flags, going clockwise from the American flag top centre, are in order of the number of signatures collected, with the highest number from the United States. The Space Show is pleased that it played some small part in promoting Australia to fifth in the list.

Saturn, its moon Titan and Earth also are featured, as is Cassini and the Huygens probe. The feathers represent the Golden Eagle, whose feathers were used as quills for writing to spread wisdom. The bird is revered in mythology for carrying spirits above the Earth to the heavens.

Cassini was launched in 1997 and after a circuitous journey went into orbit around Saturn on 2004 July 1. Our names orbited Saturn for 13 years, and were in space for one month shy of 20 years!

In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, Cassini Scienceand Mission Design Manager (left) Charley Kohlhase and Cassini Program Manager Richard Spehalski hold the Digital Video Disk bearing 616 403 digitized signatures of citizens of the United States and 80 other countries. The disk, stored in a specially designed package, was later mounted to the side of the two-story spacecraft (behind the two men) beneath a pallet carrying cameras and other science instruments. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Richard Spehalski holds the protective jewelcase containing the Digital Video Disk in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (Click on image to enlarge.)

"The Space Show" also submitted names to the European Space Agency. These were written to a CD-ROM and placed on the Huygens probe that landed on Titan on 2005 January 14. Unlike the Cassini names, which were vaporised when Cassini entered the Saturnian atmosphere on 2017 September 15, the Huygens names will remain on Titan forever!

The Huygens probe with the CD-ROM (Click on image to enlarge)

The CD-ROM being affixed to the Huygens probe (Click on image to enlarge)


During the signature collection process The Space Show had several refusals.

Several people didn't believe we were genuinely going to help send their names to Saturn.

But one person refused point-blank. When we enquired as to why, she said that aliens might find it and come and abduct her!!