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Astronomy

Cassini mission to Saturn

An animated model of Cassini-HuygensAn animated model of Cassini-HuygensThe Cassini mission, officially the Cassini–Huygens mission, was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to send a probe to study the planet Saturn, its rings and its moons. The spacecraft was made up of both the Cassini orbiter and Huygens lander, which landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Launched on 15th October 1997 and orginally planned to last until May 2008, the Cassini mission was extended twice. It ended on 15th September 2017, when the space probe was deliberately steered into Saturn's atmosphere. There it burned up in order to prevent any risk of contaminating Saturn's moons. 

Cassini's image of Saturn and its ringsCassini's image of Saturn and its rings
Titan's surface imaged by CassiniTitan's surface imaged by Cassini

Arrival at Saturn

After a seven-year voyage, on 1st July 2004 the Cassini space probe flew through the gap between Saturn’s F and G rings and completed an orbit of the planet. It was the first spacecraft ever to have orbited Saturn. In a series of fly-bys between July and December 2004, Cassini collected images of Titan, including the lakes of methane on its surface, which looked similar to the lakes of water on Earth.





Huygens parachutes down to Titan's surfaceHuygens parachutes down to Titan's surface

Huygens on Titan

The Cassini orbiter was named after the Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625–1712), discoverer of Saturn's ring divisions and four of its satellites. The Huygens probe was named after the Dutch astronomer, mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens (1629–95), discoverer of Titan.

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