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: Cassini Saturnalia

Related Stories

Cassini Saturnalia

April 26, 2010

Six years ago, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft began orbiting Saturn. Scientists are celebrating the data and detailed images the mission has provided of the planet, its famous ring, and its many moons.

Cassini sees Titan cooking up smog

February 5, 2013

(Phys.org)—A paper published this week using data from NASA's Cassini mission describes in more detail than ever before how aerosols in the highest part of the atmosphere are kick-started at Saturn's moon Titan. Scientists ...

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.

Land Ho! Huygens Plunged to Titan Surface 5 Years Ago

January 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Huygens probe parachuted down to the surface of Saturn's haze-shrouded moon Titan exactly five years ago on Jan. 14, 2005, providing data that scientists on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn are still ...

Image: Dark pools on Titan

January 11, 2016

This radar image from the Cassini orbiter shows a thin strip of surface on Saturn's moon Titan. The yellow-hued terrain appears to be peppered with blue-tinted lakes and seas. However, these would not be much fun to splash ...

Mystery of the missing waves on Titan

July 23, 2013

One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn's moon Titan resembles Earth. Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it has river channels, ...

Recommended for you

Dark matter may be smoother than expected

December 7, 2016

Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey, made with ESO's VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought. An international team ...

Saturn's bulging core implies moons younger than thought

December 7, 2016

Freshly harvested data from NASA's Cassini mission reveals that Saturn's bulging core and twisting gravitational forces offer clues to the ages of the planet's moons. Astronomers now believe that the ringed planet's moons ...

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.