Cassini Spacecraft and Huygens Probe Mission
By: Anirudh V and Rahul G
What it does
Cassini basically examines Saturn, and it's moons(except the Titan since there is a probe for that called the Huygens). It uses all the instruments to examine Saturn, and is mainly there to check out the magnetosphere.
Why is it there?
Cassini is there because it is mainly built to examine Saturn's magnetosphere, and the second largest visible satellite.
The Cassini spacecraft was destined to orbit Saturn, and examine it. It also was supposed to release a probe called the Huygens that gathered data on Saturn's biggest moon, Titan(Titan was also the 2nd largest satellite in the solar system and had a very interesting atmosphere). Cassini was launched on October 15, 1997, but only reached Saturn on July 1,2004 since there is a great distance between the Earth and Saturn(746 million miles to be precise). It is a big effort for the NASA Jet Propulsion, European Space Agency(ESA) and the Italian Space Agency(ASI). Cassini was a very successful mission, and one of the greatest.
Dimensions and Weight
- The spacecraft is 6.7 meters high and about 4 meters wide, and weighs 2125 kg probe weighs 394 kg. At launch the mass of the spacecraft was about 5.82 tons and 3.1 of those tons were propellant which basically means that those were movable and practically engines.
Cassini was obviously a powerful spacecraft, with lots of potency behind it. There were 18 instruments aboard the ship, 12 being a part of Cassini and 6 of the Huygens probe. A few of Cassini's focus on microwave remote sensing(which is it's communication to Earth), these are the Radar and Radio Science Subsystem (RSS).
The next part would be the optical remote sensing(this is where the instruments basically gathers data on Saturn, its rings and the moons through electromagnetic spectrum), these would be the Composite Infrared Spectrometer, Imaging Science Subsystem, Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph, Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer.
The last category would be fields, particles and waves(these would be examining Saturn's surface), these would be the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS), Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA), Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS), Magnetometer (MAG),Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI),Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS).
Huygens Probe Instruments
The Huygens probe was also pretty potent, but had to be more compact since it had to fit inside of Cassini in order to explore the Titan, and there were several instruments aboard it to keep it stable. The first is the two antennas part of the antenna subsystem, and each are responsible for a single job. The low end frequency is supposed to keep track with the Earth and keep stable communication, whereas the high one is supposed to act like an umbrella and keep the sun's harmful rays away. There are also three major RTGs (radioisotope thermoelectric generators) that give power to the probe, all the instruments, computers, radio transmitters, altitude thrusters and reaction wheels.
In all, Cassini has made a total of one mission, which it had succeeded in 2008. It has been so productive that it even has earned two more missions. One is current where it's supposed to gather more data for scientists to examine, and it's last will be in 2017 where it will crash into Saturn for the sake of looking at the surface. As for the probe, it couldn't survive that long without power, and therefore it is dead somewhere on Titan.
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- "Cassini Solstice Mission." Cassini Solstice Mission. Ed. Kirk Munsell. NASA, n.d. Web. 30 May 2015.
- Kurth, William S. “Cassini.” World Book Student. World Book, 2015 Web. 30 April 2015.
- "Cassini Spacecraft." European Space Agency. ESA, n.d. Web. 01 May 2015.