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Cassini
Cassini Mission to Venus Cassini Mission to Earth's Moon Cassini Mission to Jupiter Cassini Mission to Asteroids Cassini Mission to Saturn

Goals: Cassini was designed to explore the Saturnian system from orbit: the planet and its atmosphere, rings and magnetosphere, and its moons, particularly Titan and the icy satellites. Cassini also carried Europe's Huygens probe to its rendezvous with Titan.

Accomplishments: After successfully completing the first in-depth, up-close study of Saturn and its realm from orbit, Cassini is on an extended mission to follow up on the many discoveries made during its primary 4-year mission. Among the most surprising discoveries were geysers erupting on Enceladus and the dynamic effects of it and other moons on Saturn's rings. Cassini's observations of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, have given scientists a glimpse of what our home planet might have been like before life evolved on Earth.

   

Key Dates
15 Oct 1997:  Launch
30 Dec 2000:  Jupiter Flyby
1 Jul 2004:  Saturn Orbit Insertion
24 Dec 2004:  Huygens Probe Release
14 Jan 2005:  Huygens Probe Landing
Status: Extended Mission in Progress
Fast Facts
Cassini Facts The spacecraft is named in honor of Giovanni Cassini (right), the 17th century astronomer who discovered gaps in Saturn's rings.

Cassini is a truly international mission. Three space agencies and 17 nations contributed to the mission.

The orbiter is about the same size as a 30 passenger school bus. It weighs roughly 5,650 kg (6 tons). Half of that is rocket fuel.

The orbiter is named for Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini (right).

Cassini is the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn.

Pioneer 11 was the first spacecraft to fly by Saturn in 1979.

The spacecraft is named for Giovanni Cassini (1625 - 1712), the European astronomer who discovered four moons of Saturn and a large gap in the planet's rings.

Cassini was the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn. Pioneer 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 were flyby missions.

Saturn and its ring system serve as a miniature model for the disc of gas and dust surrounding the early Sun that formed the planets.
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Last Updated: 7 May 2014