Styx Sings Touching Farewell to Cassini Probe Before It Crashes into Saturn

Guitarist Tommy Shaw of the legendary rock band Styx dedicated a song to Saturn's Cassini spacecraft in a new video.

"If anyone appreciates the value of a long, successful road trip, it's us here in Styx," Shaw said before going into ballad mode with the song "Radio Silence," off the group's new album, "The Mission".

The 2017 album describes a mission to Mars, but Styx's relationship with NASA goes back a few years. Back in the summer of 2015, Styx visited NASA's New Horizons team just days before their historic flyby of Pluto. Coincidentally, Styx was the name the International Astronomical Union selected for the Plutonian moon discovered by the SETI Institute in 2012, NASA officials said. The popular '70s and '80s band took its name from the river of the underworld in Greek mythology, the same that inspired the moon's name. [Cassini's Swan Song: How Saturn Probe Will Spend Its Final Day]

Shortly before NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew by the Pluto system for the first time, the legendary rockers paid a visit to the mission's headquarters. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The Cassini spacecraft is certainly deserving of a dedication, especially since the Cassini mission is ending in true rock 'n' roll fashion. The spacecraft launched 20 years ago, and as it completes its third and final mission on Sept. 15, Cassini will perform a dramatic final dive into Saturn's atmosphere.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) set Cassini on its final 22-dive sequence on April 26 to observe Saturn's rings like never before, and the last plunge will disintegrate Cassini to prevent it from contaminating Saturn's moons, including Enceladus and Titan. Those two moons appear to have conditions friendly to life, and NASA's planetary protection policy guides scientists to keep celestial bodies as intact as possible. Although Cassini was sanitized before launch, strains of resistant microbes could have hitched a ride aboard Cassini, and the warm interior of the probe could have kept them alive.

"Cassini. NASA. Thirteen years of fantastic science coming back from Saturn, all because of you," Shaw says in the video. "Your road trip is about to come to an end, and we would like to send you off with a little traveling music."

"The Mission" is suited for space-exploration enthusiasts. The album features songs that will have fans singing, "Hands on the wheel of my rocket mobile" (from "Hundred Million Miles from Home"), and "Feel that pressure break through the atmosphere" (from "Gone Gone Gone").

Styx's "The Mission" is available for purchase on Amazon.

Styx's first album in 14 years, "The Mission," contains songs dedicated to space travel and inspired by the Mars mission. (Image credit: Jason Powell)

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Doris Elin Urrutia
Contributing Writer

Doris is a science journalist and contributor. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Communications at Fordham University in New York City. Her first work was published in collaboration with London Mining Network, where her love of science writing was born. Her passion for astronomy started as a kid when she helped her sister build a model solar system in the Bronx. She got her first shot at astronomy writing as a editorial intern and continues to write about all things cosmic for the website. Doris has also written about microscopic plant life for Scientific American’s website and about whale calls for their print magazine. She has also written about ancient humans for Inverse, with stories ranging from how to recreate Pompeii’s cuisine to how to map the Polynesian expansion through genomics. She currently shares her home with two rabbits. Follow her on twitter at @salazar_elin.