Cassini Spacecraft

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Cassini Spacecraft was the fourth probe to visit Planet Saturn and the first spacecraft to enter orbit.  The spacecraft consists of the Cassini Orbiter and Huygens Probe. Cassini-Huygens is a joint NASA, European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency Mission.

Cassini orbiting Saturn

Cassini was launched October 15th, 1997 from Cape Canaveral by a Titan IV/Centaur Rocket. The Cassini Spacecraft was created by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The European Space Agency (ESA) built the Hugens probe.

Cassini entered orbit on 1 July 2004 and started a detailed study of the ringed planet and its moons. In December 2004 the Huygens probe (ESA) descended into the atmosphere of the Moon Titan. Titan is the second largest moon (satellite) in our solar system.

Mission

The main scientific goals include:

1. Measuring the huge magnetosphere of Planet Saturn

2. Analyzing the rings of Saturn from close up and

3. Studying Saturn’s composition and atmosphere and exploring the Titan Moon via the Huygens Probe.

The Cassini Spacecraft includes the Cassini Orbiter and Huygens Probe.

Once Cassini enters orbit, it will start a detailed study the ringed planet. In December 2004 the Huygens probe (ESA) will descend into the atmosphere of the Moon Titan. Titan is the second largest moon (satellite) in our solar system.

Cassini-Huygens spacecraft became the first spacecraft to orbit Planet Saturn on 1 July 2004.

Specifications:

Cassini Spacecraft: 


Launch Weight: 5600 Kg

Orbiter:

Weight: 2150 Kg

Hugens Probe: 


Weight: 350 Kg

MISSION HISTORY:

* October 15, 1997 – Cassini-Huygens launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

* April 26, 1998 – Cassini-Huygens flies by Venus, picking up a boost from the planet’s gravity.

* June 24, 1999 – Cassini-Huygens flies by Venus again, getting another “gravity assist.

* August 18, 1999 – Cassini-Huygens gets a third celestial push when it flies by Earth.

* December 30, 2000 – Cassini-Huygens flies by Jupiter, snapping photos and getting a final boost. With Galileo still orbiting the planet, it’s the first time two spacecraft have explored the gas giant simultaneously.

* June 11, 2004: Phoebe Flyby

Cassini captured images of Phoebe, Saturn’s outermost moon.

* July 1, 2004: Arrived at Planet Saturn

The spacecraft crossed through the large gap between the F Ring and G Ring, about 98,500 miles from Saturn’s center.

MISSION TIMELINE:

* October 26, 2004 – First close flyby of Titan.

* December 2004 – Cassini will eject the Huygens probe.

The Cassini Spacecraft will eject the Huygens space probe towards the Titan Moon. After its 22-day coast, the cone-shaped probe will descend into Titan’s cloudy atmosphere. Three sets of parachutes will deploy to slow the probe and to provide a stable platform for scientific measurements. Instruments on board will collect information about the atmosphere’s chemical composition and the clouds surrounding Titan. The data will be radioed to the Cassini orbiter, which will then relay the data to Earth.

About two hours after entering Titan’s atmosphere, the probe will land near the moon’s equator. If Huygens survives the impact, the probe might be able to communicate with the spacecraft for a few minutes after landing on the frozen surface of Titan. Huygens will be the furthest human-made object ever to land on a celestial body.

* January 14, 2005: Huygens at Titan 
Huygens probe separates from Cassini and descends into Titan’s atmosphere Huygens will make a parachute-assisted descent through Titan’s atmosphere, collecting data as the parachutes slow the probe from super sonic speeds.

Picture: The surface of Titan seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, NASA.

* August 1, 2005 – Mimas flyby.

*September 23, 2005 – Tethys flyby.
*September 25, 2005 – Hyperion flyby.
*October 10, 2005 – Dione flyby.
*November 25, 2005 – Rhea flyby.
*December 3, 2007 – Epimetheus flyby.

Books:

Mission to Saturn: Cassini and the Huygens Probe (Springer-Praxis Books in Astronomy & Space Sciences) by David M. Harland

From Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

Reference:

Cassini: Voyage to Saturn


Cassini Spacecraft Links

Cassini: Voyage to Saturn:
NASA’s Quest Project: Cassini Q&A


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