DN Staff

April 7, 1997

4 Min Read
More on the Cassini

Scheduled to be launched in October 1997 on a Titan IV-Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral, Cassini will execute two gravity-assist flybys of Venus, then one of Earth and one of Jupiter. It is scheduled to arrive at Saturn in June 2004.

Experiments to be conducted on the mission include the following:

  • Imaging science subsystems - Takes pictures in visible, near-ultraviolet, and near-infrared light.

  • Cassini radar - Maps the surface of Titan using radar imager to pierce veil of haze and also using it to measure the heights of the surface features.

  • Radio science subsystem - Searches for gravitational waves in the universe; studies the atmosphere, rings,and gravity fields of Saturn and its moons by measuring telltale changes in radio waves sent from the spacecraft.

  • Ion and neutral mass spectrometer - Examines neutral and charged particles near Titan, Saturn, and the satellites to learn more about their extended atmospheres and ionospheres.

  • Visual and infrared mapping spectrometer - Identifies the chemical composition of the surfaces, atmospheres, and rings of Saturn and its moons by measuring colors of visible light and infrared energy given off by them.

  • Composite infrared spectrometer - measures infrared energy from the surfaces, atmospheres, and rings of Saturn and its moons to study their temperature and composition.

  • Cosmic dust analyzer - Studies ice and dust grains in and near the Saturn system.

  • Radio and plasma wave science - Investigates plasma waves (generated by ionized gases flowing out from the Sun or orbiting Saturn), natural emissions of radio energy, and dust.

  • Cassini plasma spectrometer - Explores plasma (highly ionized gas) within and near Saturn's magnetic field.

  • Ultraviolet imaging spectrograph - Measures ultraviolet energy from atmosphere and rings to study their structure, chemistry and composition.

  • Magnetospheric imaging instrument - Images Saturn's magnetosphere and measures interactions between the magnetosphere and the solar wind, a flow of ionized gases streaming out from the Sun.

  • Dual technique magnetometer - Describes Saturn's magnetic field and its interactions with the solar wind, the rings, and the moons of Saturn.

Huygens Probe experiments will include:

  • Descent imager and spectral radiometer - Makes images and measures temperatures of particles in Titan's atmosphere and on Titan's surface.

  • Huygens atmospheric structure instrument - Explores the structure and physical properties of Titan's atmosphere.

  • Gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer - Measures the chemical composition of gases and suspended particles in Titan's atmosphere.

  • Aerosol collector pyrolyzer - Examines clouds and suspended particles in Titan's atmosphere.

  • Surface science package - Investigates the physical properties of Titan's surface.

  • Doppler wind experiment - Studies Titan's winds from their effect on the probe during its descent.

Important Mission Events

Launch on Titan IV launch vehicle 6-Oct-97

APHELION 1 (furthest distance from Sun in 1-Nov-97 )

PERIHELION 2 (closest approach to Sun) 23-Mar-98 169 Venus 1 flyby 21-Apr-98

Deep Space Manever to target to Venus 2 2-Dec-98

APHELION 2 (furthest distance from Sun in 4-Dec-98 )

Window for using High Gain Antenna begins 16-Dec-98

Window for using High Gain Antenna ends 10-Jan-99

Venus 2 flyby 20-Jun-99

PERIHELION 2 (closest distance to Sun in 27-Jun-99)

Earth flyby 16-Aug-99

High Gain Antenna can be used from now on 29-Jan-00

Jupiter flyby 30-Dec-00



Maneuver to target Probe to Titan 12-Sep-04

Probe Separates from Spacecraft to go to Titan 6-Nov-04

Maneuver to target for Titan flyby 8-Nov-04

Huygens Probe Mission at Titan (~ 4 hours 27-Nov-04)

First flyby of Saturn's largest moon Titan 27-Nov-04

End of Nominal Mission (after 4 year tour) 1-Jul-08

End of Extended Mission ?? ??

Check out these web sites for more information on the mission:



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