Cassini Mission Status Report

December 29, 2004

NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully performed a getaway maneuver on Monday, Dec. 27, to keep it from following the European Space Agency's Huygens probe into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. This maneuver established the required geometry between the probe and the orbiter for radio communications during the probe descent on Jan. 14. The probe has no navigating capability, so the Cassini orbiter had been placed on a deliberate collision course with Titan to ensure the accurate delivery of the probe to Titan.

The Huygens probe successfully detached from the Cassini orbiter on Dec. 24. All systems performed as expected.

The European Space Agency's Huygens probe will be the first human- made object to explore on-site the unique environment of Titan, whose chemistry is thought to be very similar to that of early Earth before life arose.

Next for Cassini is a flyby of Saturn's icy moon Iapetus on Dec. 31. Iapetus is Saturn's two-faced moon -- one side is very bright, and the other is very dark. One scenario for this striking difference is that the moon's surface is being resurfaced by some material spewing from within.

The Cassini spacecraft has been in orbit around Saturn since June 30, 2004, and has returned stunning pictures of Saturn, its rings and many moons. Titan has already been the subject of two close flybys by Cassini. With 43 more flybys planned and the in-situ measurements made by the probe, it is likely only a matter of time before Titan's secrets begin to unfold.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Mystery of Saturn's 'F ring' cracked, says study

Related Stories

Mystery of Saturn's 'F ring' cracked, says study

August 17, 2015

An enigmatic ring of icy particles circling Saturn, herded into a narrow ribbon by two tiny moons, was probably born of a cosmic collision, according to a study published Monday in Nature Geoscience.

The Planet Saturn

August 3, 2015

The farthest planet from the Sun that be observed with the naked eye, the existence of Saturn has been known for thousands of years. And much like all celestial bodies that can be observed with the aid of instruments – ...

Huygens mission: Ten years at Titan

January 14, 2015

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the pioneering Huygens mission to Saturn's moon Titan, the first successful landing on an outer Solar System world.

The formation and development of desert dunes on Titan

October 23, 2014

Combining climate models and observations of the surface of Titan from the Cassini probe, a team from the AIM Astrophysics Laboratory (CNRS / CEA / Paris Diderot University) , in collaboration with researchers at the Paris ...

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.