This illustration shows Cassini above Saturn's northern hemisphere prior to making one of its Grand Finale dives.

Launch Date October 15, 1997
Launch Site Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
Destination Saturn, Titan, Enceladus
Type Orbiter
Status Successful
Nation United States, International
Alternate Names 1997-061A, Cassini Orbiter, 25008

Goals

Completed the first in-depth, up-close study of Saturn and its realm from orbit.

Accomplishments

  • Completed first detailed reconnaissance of Saturn and its family of moons and rings
  • Delivered Huygens probe to Titan for the first landing on another planet's moon
  • Discovered erupting geysers and a global subsurface ocean on Enceladus
  • Found clear evidence of present-day hydrothermal activity on Enceladus - the first detection of hydrothermal activity beyond Earth
  • Revealed Titan as world with rain, rivers, lakes and seas
  • Revealed Saturn's rings as active and dynamic -- a laboratory for how planets form
  • Served as the first Saturn atmospheric probe during its last five orbits

Key Dates

Oct. 15, 1997: Launch

Dec. 30, 2000: Jupiter Flyby

July 1, 2004: Saturn Orbit Insertion

Dec. 24, 2004: Huygens Probe Release

Jan. 14, 2005: Huygens Probe Landing

Sept. 15, 2017: Saturn Impact

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle: Titan IVB/ Centaur

Spacecraft Mass: 5,712 kilograms (12,593 pounds) with fuel, Huygens probe, adapter, etc; 2,125 kilograms (4,685 pounds) unfueled orbiter alone

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. composite infrared spectrometer
  2. imaging system
  3. ultraviolet imaging spectrograph
  4. visual and infrared mapping spectrometer
  5. imaging radar
  6. radio science
  7. plasma spectrometer
  8. cosmic dust analyzer
  9. ion and neutral mass spectrometer
  10. magnetometer
  11. magnetospheric imaging instrument
  12. radio and plasma wave science

Additional Resources

NASA News: Cassini

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Cassini

National Space Science Data Center Master Catalog: Cassini

Selected References

Siddiqi, Asif A. Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, NASA, 2002

Solar System News