What a boon the Cassini project has been for our understanding of the solar system.
It occurred to me recently that the space program has really diversified itself and quietly made real progress. The focus is often on bad news such as problems withthe space station or the shuttle while stories like this get short shrift.
Also, we see individual articles about small successes or new discoveries without seeing the bigger picture. There is the recent flyby of Mercury and discovery that among other things the core is shrinking, the discovery of ice and alkaline elements that would be beneficial to growing plants on Mars, progress towards a return to the Moon, the fact that the third spot on Jupiter was consumed by the Big Red Spot, myriad Hubble based stories, and numerous other smaller news items.
None of these stories alone will generate much public interest. I vaguely remember the Viking missions as a child. Think about how much different things are now 30 years later. Humans are not just sending isolated missions out there anymore. There is an integrated and increasingly systematic exploration of the solar system and universe going on. One that is making significant discoveries.
This should be exciting to people who like science.