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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cassini - Mission to Saturn

Cassini - Huygens:

     Cassini - Huygens - Mission to Saturn | Cassini mission is a joint collaboration between National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian Space Agency (ISA) to study the planet Saturn and its system of rings and natural satellites. This mission consists of Orbiter - Cassini | Lander - Huygens which landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini occupies fourth probe, to visit Saturn and the firstto enter Saturn's orbit.


     The Cassini spacecraft was launched on 15 October 1997 and it was carried by Titan IVB/Centaur rocket. Cassini spent more than 20 years on mission. Before reaching Saturn, it performed Venus flyby in April 1998, Earth flyby in August 1999, Asteroid 2685 Masurky and Jupiter in December 2000. Its mission ended on 15th September 2017


     The Huygens module traveled a huge distance along with Cassini spacecraft until it get separated from probe on 25th December 2004 and successfully landed by parachute on Titan on 14th January 2005. Huygens returned data back to the Earth, 90 minutes after the successful landing on Saturn's moon.


  • To study the time viability of Titan clouds
  • To study the dynamic behavior of Saturn's atmosphere and its magnetosphere
  • To determine the nature and origin of dark material on lapetus
  • To determine the composition of satellite surfaces and its geologic history
  • To determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of Saturn Rings'
  • To characterize Titan's surface on a regional scale

     Cassini mission was originated in 1982 when the European Science Foundation and the American National Academy of Sciences formed a working group to investigate future cooperative missions.

Scientific Instruments:

  • Optical Remote Sensing
  • Composite Infrared Spectrometer
  • Imaging Science Subsystem
  • Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph
  • Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer
  • Fields | Particles and Waves
  • Cassini Plasma Spectrometer
  • Cosmic Dust Analyzer
  • Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer
  • Magnetometer
  • Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument
  • Radio and Plasma Wave Science
  • Microwave Remote Sensing
  • Radar
  • Radio Science
Technical Details:

  • Cassini spacecraft was powered by Plutonium Power Source (Plutonium-238 of 33 kilogram)
  • Cassini has 1,630 interconnected electronic components
  • And 22,000 wire connections which are of 14 kilometers of Cabling
  • The Computer CPU was MIL-STD-1750A System
  • Main propulsion was R-4D bipropellant rocket engine producing thrust 490 newtons
First Mission Extension:

     On 15th April 2008, Cassini received funding for a 27 month extended mission. It consist of 60 more orbits of Saturn, with 21 more close Titan flybys, seven of Enceladus, six of Mimas, eight of Tethys, and one targeted flyby each of Dione, Rhea and Helene. The extended mission began on 1st July 2008, and was renamed the Cassini Equinox Mission as the mission coincided with Saturn Equinox..

Second Extended Mission:

     A proposal was submitted to NASA for a second mission extension from September 2017 to May 2017, provisionally named the extended mission or XXM. This was approved in February 2010 and renamed the Cassini Solstice Mission. It included Cassini orbiting Saturn 155 more times , conducting additional flybys of Titan and 11 more of Enceladus.

Grand Finale and Destruction:

     Cassini ended its mission, involving a series of close Saturn passes, approaching within the rings, then an entry into Saturn's atmosphere on 15th September 2017, to destroy the spacecraft. This method was chosen because it is imperative to ensure protection and prevent biological contamination to any of the moons of Saturn thought to offer potential habitability.

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