Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
Quotes 2017 #118
"Space engineers use something called the slingshot effect to improve the fuel economy of their rockets. The Cassini space probe, which was designed to visit the distant planet Saturn, traveled there by what seems like a round-about route, but was actually cunningly planned to exploit the slingshot effect. Using far less rocket fuel than would have been needed to fly directly to Saturn, Cassini borrowed from the gravity and orbital movement of three planets on the way: Venus (twice), then a return swing around Earth, then a final mighty heave from Jupiter. In each case it fell around the planet like a comet, gaining speed by hanging onto its gravitational coat tails as the planet whizzed around the sun. These four slingshot boosts hurled Cassini out towards the Saturn system of rings and 62 moons, from where it has been sending back stunning pictures ever since."