Tue, Sep 18, '18

#Scicomm Campaign inspiration: Cassini's Grand Finale by NASA

Alex Cloney


While SCi25 technically covers campaigns from European institutions, I'm bringing some inspiration from a little further afield with Cassini’s Grand Finale - a fantastic science communication campaign by NASA.


In 2017, after 13 years revealing the wonders of Saturn, NASA’s Cassini orbiter was running out of fuel. As a final act, Cassini began a new mission to end with a spectacular plunge into the planet.


It’s a unique thing to reinvigorate a story that is over a decade old, but the team behind the Cassini spacecraft did just that. Rather than lament the end of a mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) created a multi-month digital campaign celebrating its achievements and encouraging people to follow Cassini on the last part of its journey, into the unknown.

The campaign started with the spacecraft’s first dive into the unexplored space between Saturn and its rings in April and culminated in September with live coverage of its final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere.


In addition to live TV broadcasts, NASA’s campaign included an ebook, a short film on the mission’s story, regular updates on social media and the Cassini mission website; multiple 360-degree videos, including NASA’s first 360-degree livestream of a mission event from inside JPL mission control; an interactive press kit; a steady stream of articles to keep fans updated with news and features about the people behind the mission; educational materials; and software to provide real-time tracking of the spacecraft, down to its final transmission to Earth. This impressive collection of activities was designed to use the end of Cassini’s life to help inform and excite the public about space exploration.





We’re many of us are naturally awed by space, this mission has become one of the most memorable due to the quality of the multimedia involved in the campaign and the captivating storytelling – almost likening Cassini to a character in a great epic. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences even nominated NASA for an Emmy for its coverage of the Cassini mission's Grand Finale at Saturn.

Which campaigns have most inspired you over the last year? Have your say by nominating the organisations for SCi25 here.