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Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, Mission to Saturn

Cassini-Huygens is the name of a joint N.A.S.A., european space agency and the Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) space craft that was sent into space to travel to Saturn. It was launched on the 15th October 1997 on a near seven year journey to Saturn which it arrived on 1st October 2004. It didn't go directly to the planet, it went first to Venus which would give it a speed momentum to help it on its way. Its primary mission length was for four years to hopefully answer a few questions about the planet and its moons. The primary missions are 2:-

Huygens Primary Objectives

Cassini Objectives

Saturn

Ring science objectives:

Icy Satellite science objectives:

Magnetosphere:

After the four years finished, it would move onto its secondary mission known as the Equinox missions then the Solstice missions after that. The Solstice and Equinox missions are on the page linked above. The picture below is an artists impression of the craft in orbit round Saturn. It is one of the heaviest space crafts ever launched into space.


Artists impression of Cassini-Huygens in orbit round Saturn


The craft's contains a dash which is to indicate that the craft is actually two crafts in one. One part, the Cassini is the craft and the Huygens is a probe that was sent into the orbit of Titan which had an atmosphere which astronomers wanted to know more about. The Huygens probe was released from its mother craft on 25th December 2004 (Christmas Day) and on the 14th January it entered the atmosphere of the moon.

Cassini is named after Giovanni Cassini who discovered both gaps between the rings of the planet but also some of its moons. Huygens is named after Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens who discovered Saturn's largest moon and the one it would be visiting. Huygens was built by the Europeans whilst the craft Cassini was built by the Americans.

One of the interesting discoveries was made on 3rd April 2014, that there is an underground ocean of water on Enceladus, one of the Saturnian moons. The revelation also increases the prospect that there could be micro-organisms deep below. 1.

The primary resources for the mission can be found at N.A.S.A. and E.S.A.

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