Politics
Vox Sentences: RIP, Cassini

By Ella Nilsen

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

NASA’s Cassini makes a grand plunge toward oblivion; London weathers yet another terror attack; Iceland’s government is in shambles.


“We’re going out in a blaze of glory”

 NASA/Handout/Corbis via Getty Images
  • RIP, Cassini, the little NASA spacecraft that could. After 20 years orbiting the planet Saturn and its rings, Cassini made its spectacular final plunge into the planet’s atmosphere, where the atmospheric pressure would ultimately crush it. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • Cassini has been collecting information and data over the course of its lifetime, but scientists made the decision to crash it because it was running out of fuel (having already lasted well beyond its expected life cycle). [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • Cassini was built to study Saturn specifically. It’s regarded as one of the most successful space missions in history, because of the vast amount of data it has been able to collect and transmit back to Earth. [Washington Post / Sarah Kaplan]
  • We have Cassini to thank for most of what we know about Saturn, the second-largest planet in the solar system. Among the spacecraft’s greatest accomplishments include collecting images that showed how Saturn’s rings could form new moons, and gathering data suggesting some of those moons might be able to support life. [The New Yorker / Alan Burdick]
  • The spacecraft’s demise was emotional for a lot of the NASA scientists who have been working with it for years. There was applause and tears in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California today as Cassini made its final descent; one scientist told reporters the experience felt like losing a friend. [Space.com / Sarah Lewin]
  • But Cassini didn’t go down without a parting gift to NASA scientists. It transmitted more images back to Earth than expected, with a few spectacular last shots of Saturn, its rings, and the surrounding moons. [National Geographic / Nadia Drake]

Terror strikes the London Tube

 Jack Taylor/Getty Images
  • Britain became the target of another attack this morning, after a device that appeared to be a homemade explosive went off on a subway train at the Parsons Green station during morning rush hour. [The Guardian / Ian Cobain, Vikram Dodd, and Haroon Siddique]
  • Police said they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack, and ISIS has claimed responsibility for it. Luckily, it appears no one was killed in the blast; 29 people were hurt, but none sustained life-threatening injuries. [NYT / Sewell Chan, Patrick Kingsley, and Ceylan Yeginsu]
  • The incident could have been much worse; investigators told reporters it appeared the device only set off an initiating charge, but its main blast did not go off. [The Guardian / Ian Cobain, Vikram Dodd, and Haroon Siddique]
  • Today’s incident marks the fifth terror attack in Britain in 2017 alone; others include the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and two separate van attacks in London. [CNN / Jason Hanna]
  • Soon after the news, President Trump tweeted about the London attack, saying it was perpetrated by a “loser terrorist” that was “in the sights of Scotland Yard.” [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • That remark earned him a stern comment from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who reiterated that the investigation into the incident was ongoing and that no conclusions have been made yet. May’s chief of staff piled on, describing Trump’s tweet as “so unhelpful.” [NBC News / Alastair Jamieson]
  • While it’s causing Londoners to be more vigilant about potential attacks, London is a resilient city, and people say the violence will not cow them or change how they go about their daily lives. [NPR / Frank Langfitt]

Iceland’s government collapses amid a fresh scandal

 Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images
  • A sexual abuse scandal has derailed Iceland’s government, just nine months into Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson’s tenure. [Reykjavík Grapevine / Paul Fontaine]
  • The country’s ruling coalition has disintegrated after the Bright Future party said it was leaving the coalition because it was disturbed by news that the prime minister’s father had quietly pardoned a convicted pedophile. [The Guardian / Jon Henley]
  • The whole thing started when the story emerged that Benediktsson’s father had agreed to restore the honor of a man named Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson, who was convicted of raping a young member of his family in 2004 and served a jail sentence for the crime. [BBC]
  • In Iceland, a person who has been convicted of a crime can get his record cleared and certain civil rights restored if he gets enough people to vouch for his character by writing official letters of recommendation. The recommendation ultimately has to be approved by members of the government and the president. [Reykjavík Grapevine / Paul Fontaine]
  • The prime minister is maintaining that he didn’t know what his father had done, but he has still decided to call for a snap election to choose a new government. The election could be held later this fall. [Bloomberg / Ragnhildur Siguroardottir]
  • Iceland’s government has been on rocky ground for years. Last year, the country’s previous prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, resigned after the Panama Papers revealed he and his wife had money in offshore accounts with ties to some of the banks that collapsed in Iceland’s financial crisis in 2008. [Washington Post / Adam Taylor]
  • The latest scandal makes it the third time in a row a ruling government has had to resign before its term was up. [Iceland Magazine]

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