Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, science rules.

Case in point, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. After completing its original four-year mission, Cassini is now a year into a secondary, extended mission, and still sending back mind-bending images that stretch the imagination.

What’s the big deal, you say… you, who map the way to far-flung coffee shops on your iPhone, while tweeting with your third-graders in the back-seat watching video-on-demand in your minivan.

Try this on for size: Cassini was launched in 1997 (that’s 8 years before Youtube was launched) and is currently operating in various orbits around Saturn and its moons, some 3.5 billion kilometers away. The spacecraft gets by with a mere 885 watts of power for its on-board sensors and camera equipment; it manages its transportation feats by fantastic, gravity-assisted orbital loops… essentially leaching power from the gravity of the heavenly bodies it orbits. And those wondrous crazy photos it takes? Those are the result of two, one-megapixel cameras.

For more of those fantastical photos, see Boston.com’s Big Picture.

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