Future Exploration

The Cassini Mission

Date Event
10/06/97Titan IV / Centaur Launch
04/21/98First Venus Gravity Assist
06/20/99Second Venus Gravity Assist
08/16/99Earth Gravity Assist
12/30/00Jupiter Gravity Assist
06/25/04Arrival at Saturn
11/06/04Huygens Probe Separation
11/27/04Huygens Probe Entry at Titan
06/25/08End of Primary Mission

Why go to Saturn?

Cassini's mission is a planned four year close up study of Saturn. It's purpose is to explore the planet's atmosphere and magnetic filed, along with further study of the rings and moons. Cassini will bring with it the best instrumentation ever sent to another planet, and thus the most complete information mankind will have about any planet will be about Saturn.

Scientific Purposes

Cloud Properties / Atmospheric Composition
Winds and Temperatures
Internal Structure and Rotation
Saturn's Ionosphere
Origin and Evolution of Saturn

Atmosphereic Constituent Abundances
Distribution of Trace Gases and Aerosols
Winds and Temperatures
Surface State and Composition
Upper Atmosphere

Structure and Composition
Dynamical Processes
Interrelation of Rings and Satellites
Dust / Micrometeroroid Environment

Icy Moons
Characteristics and Geological Histories
Mechanisms of Surface Modification
Surface Composition and Distribution
Bulk Composition and Internal Structure
Interaction with Magnetosphere

Configuration and Current Systems
Particle Composition, Sources and Sinks
Dynamics of the Magnetosphere
Interaction with the Solar Wind, Satellites and Rings
Titan's Interaction with the Solar Wind and Magnetosphere

Cassini Mission Fun Facts Page

Other Benefits of the Mission

This mission is unique in several ways. It is an international mission. NASA is woking with many other agencies in Europe in order to successfully complete the mission. Also involved are the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. It marks a stand in international cooperation and investment.

New Technology

  • Solid State Recorder - sophisticated data recorder with no moving parts
  • Powerful New Computer Chips - on board data system is at least 10 times more powerful than previous designs, and will take up only 1/3 the mass and volume
  • Micro-Minature radio Receiver - low mass, low power, radiation hardened X-band receiver
  • Solid State Power Switch - greatly improved lifetime and efficiency
  • Gyros - greater reliability and less vulerablity to mechanical failure due to no moving parts
  • Resource Trading System - System for maintaining what systems will get how much electrical power so the ship remains in a resource stable state