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Artist's concept of Cassini's orbit insertion around Saturn
Mission typeCassini: Saturn orbiter
Huygens: Titan lander
OperatorCassini: NASA / JPL
Huygens: ESA / ASI
COSPAR ID1997-061A
SATCAT no.25008
Mission duration
  • Overall:
    •  19 years, 335 days
    •  13 years, 76 days at Saturn
  • En route:
    •  6 years, 261 days
  • Prime mission:
    •  3 years
  • Extended missions:
    •  Equinox: 2 years, 62 days
    •  Solstice: 6 years, 205 days
    •  Finale: 4 months, 24 days
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerCassini: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Huygens: Thales Alenia Space
Launch mass5,712 kg (12,593 lb)[1][2]
Dry mass2,523 kg (5,562 lb)[1]
Power~885 watts (BOL)[1]
~670 watts (2010)[3]
~663 watts (EOM/2017)[1]
Start of mission
Launch dateOctober 15, 1997, 08:43:00 (1997-10-15UTC08:43) UTC
Rocket Titan IV(401)B B-33
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-40
End of mission
DisposalControlled entry into Saturn
Last contactSeptember 15, 2017
  • 11:55:39 UTC X-band telemetry
  • 11:55:46 UTC S-band radio science[4]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemKronocentric
Flyby of Venus (Gravity assist)
Closest approachApril 26, 1998
Distance283 km (176 mi)
Flyby of Venus (Gravity assist)
Closest approachJune 24, 1999
Distance623 km (387 mi)
Flyby of Earth-Moon system (Gravity assist)
Closest approachAugust 18, 1999, 03:28 UTC
Distance1,171 km (728 mi)
Flyby of 2685 Masursky (Incidental)
Closest approachJanuary 23, 2000
Distance1,600,000 km (990,000 mi)
Flyby of Jupiter (Gravity assist)
Closest approachDecember 30, 2000
Distance9,852,924 km (6,122,323 mi)
Saturn orbiter
Orbital insertionJuly 1, 2004, 02:48 UTC
Titan lander
Spacecraft componentHuygens
Landing dateJanuary 14, 2005

Cassini–Huygens was a space mission, sent to Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun to study its rings, and its moons.

The mission was made by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Italian Space Agency (ASI). The spacecraft had two main parts: the Cassini orbiter and the Huygens probe. It was launched on October 15, 1997 and entered into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. It was the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn and the fourth to visit Saturn (the others were flybys and did not enter orbit). The mission ended September 2017.

Cassini orbiter[change | change source]

The orbiter was named after the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered some moons of Saturn. Most of the orbiter was designed and built by NASA, although ASI built and programmed some parts that talked to the Huygens probe. The spacecraft spent 13 years in orbit, sending back data. It visited many parts of the Saturn system until it was short of fuel. The Cassini–Huygens ended with a controlled crash into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15, 2017.[5]

Huygens probe[change | change source]

ESA (European Space Agency) made the Huygens probe, named after the Dutch astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Christiaan Huygens who discovered Titan. On December 25 2004, the Huygens probe left the orbiter. A couple weeks later, the probe parachuted onto Saturn's largest moon Titan. Astronomers have wondered what the surface of Titan was like, since it was hidden under thick clouds. It is the only moon in our solar system with a thick atmosphere. The probe descended and sent pictures and other data back for scientists to study. After 90 minutes on the moon, the spacecraft stopped working, as expected. It is the farthest place we have ever landed a spacecraft. The pictures sent while parachuting showed rivers, probably of liquid methane. The surface is much too cold for water.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Cassini–Huygens: Quick Facts". NASA. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  2. Krebs, Gunter Dirk. "Cassini / Huygens". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  3. Barber, Todd J. (August 23, 2010). "Insider's Cassini: Power, Propulsion, and Andrew Ging". NASA. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  4. "Cassini Post-End of Mission News Conference" (Interview). Pasadena, CA: NASA Television. September 15, 2017.
  5. "The Grand Finale Toolkit". NASA. Retrieved April 15, 2017.

Other websites[change | change source]