. Suite of the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft discoveries

. The Huygens Probe Mission

. Some future missions scenarios on the Moon's Titan




Notes: This video explores Cassini CIRS' Greatest Hits, as told by instrument team members Michael Flasar, Conor Nixon, and Carrie Anderson.

. OSIRIS-REx mission to Asteroid Bennu (1999 RG36) & more

. Why  Spacecrafts' Missions are Extended

. Psyche: Journey to a Metal World



Moon Enceladus surface

Moon Titan surface

Saturn have almost 62 Moons

Cassini-Huygens Story - suite

Launched in October 1997 by a Titan IVB booster rocket (see just beside) with an orbiter of 2,125 kilograms (kg), the Huygens probe of 320 kg and a 3,132 kg of propellants, the spacecraft weighed a total of 5,712 kilograms. That is one of the largest, heaviest and most complex interplanetary spacecraft ever built. After nearly seven years of trip, the vehicle reached Saturn and its moons in July 2004.

The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft during vibration and thermal testing in 1996. Credit: NASA/JPL

With its total height of nearly 7-m and a 4-m high–gain antenna on the top (as see below), Cassini becoming the largest interplanetary spacecraft ever constructed by NASA. The magnetometer instrument is mounted on an 11-meter (36-foot) boom that extends outward from the spacecraft. Three other 10-meter (32-foot) rod-like booms that act as the antennas for the radio plasma wave subsystem extend outward from the spacecraft in a Y shape. The complexity of the spacecraft is necessitated by its flight path to Saturn and by the ambitious program of scientific observations to be undertaken once the spacecraft reaches its destination.

Total, Cassini-Huygens has three-axis stabilized spacecraft equipped for 27 diverse science investigations. Of that, Cassini orbiter has 12 instruments and Huygens probe, six, and many of these have multiple functions.

In bref, that`s included spectrometers, cosmic dust analyzers, magnetometers, radar and imaging technology, and three Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs), while provide power for the spacecraft's instruments, computers, and radio transmitters on board, attitude thrusters, and reaction wheel.

Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft done a Very Good Job... See!

The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), a box of four telescopes, creates pictures by observing ultraviolet light. In ultraviolet wavelengths of light, gases are observable and UVIS determine what types it is by splitting the light into its component wavelengths, or colors.

Color view of Saturn's rings. Credit: NASA/JPL

This view of Saturn's rings in the ultraviolet indicates more ice toward the outer part (in blue), than in the inner part (in red), hinting the origins and their evolution.

Saturn's auroral emissions are similar to Earth's Northern Lights. These dual images were taken in 2005 with Cassini's UltraViolet Imaging Spectrograph. Credit: NASA

The instrument study the composition of atmospheres on the night-sides of the planet and its moon Titan, and also looks at how light from the sun and stars passes through atmospheres and rings. Light is altered when it passes through gas or dust, and those changes tell us about the density and composition of the material.

A ring was made from the stellar occultation observed by Cassini's UVIS when the spacecraft was at 6.3 million kilometers (4 million miles) from Saturn. Here, the bright areas indicate the denser regions of the rings. CREDIT:  NASA/JPL

The Spacecraft is constantly moving, so it can lock onto a bright star and record how the its light changes as Saturn’s rings or an atmosphere intrude upon the instrument’s line of sight. This process is called an “occultation” because the object in the background is “occulted” (hidden) by a another one in the foreground, such as the rings or a moon.

The occultation technique has permit to the spectrograph team to map features of Saturn’s rings that are 10 times smaller than Cassini’s visible-light cameras can see.

To collect light that are visible to humans and infrared light of slightly longer wave-light, Cassini use the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer or VIMS. By splitting the light into its various wavelengths, scientists learn about the composition of materials from which the light is reflected or emitted.

False color view of Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL

This image shows the glow of auroras streaking out about 1,000 kilometers from the cloud tops of Saturn's south polar region. It is among the first images released from a study that identifies images showing auroral emissions out of the entire catalog of images taken by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer.

Scientists use VIMS to determine the content and temperatures of atmospheres, rings and surfaces in the Saturn system. This instrument included lenses, mirrors and other hardware to take light apart and spread it out into a tidy row of 352 separate colors. Then, we can see which wavelengths are present, absent, stronger or weaker. From that information, we learn what something is made of, be it a briny lake on Titan or the rings of Saturn.

To do so, VIMS have one camera that measure visible wavelengths and, another one, infrared wavelengths. 

In 2004, when Cassini arrived at Saturn, VIMS has quickly discovered what appeared to be an ice volcano on the moon Titan, fresh ice along the “tiger stripe” fractures on the moon Enceladus, carbon dioxide ice on Phoebe, who is a small moon very distant from Saturn.

The carbon dioxide is consistent with other evidence that Phoebe originated in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune’s orbit, but was dislodged, then wandered too close to Saturn and was captured. But VIMS was just getting started.

This near-infrared color image shows a specular reflection, or sun glint, off of a hydrocarbon lake named Kivu Lacus on Saturn's moon Titan. Credit: NASA/JPL

In the first time of observation, some scientists thought the lakes detected near Titan’s north pole might be dry lake beds or very smooth plains. But the VIMS team settled the matter when the instrument imaged sunlight glinting off of what were clearly liquid lakes, the same way sunlight reflects in lakes on Earth when viewed from space.

A Vortex centered like a giant hurricane, bigger than the diameter of Earth, was discovery inside the Hexagon on Saturn`s North Pole. That was be possible to see that in its long wintertime night because VIMS`s wavelights camera can see clouds at night in the near-infrared. On the other hand, for visible-light camera, Cassini had to wait four years before Saturn’s northern pole tilted enough toward the sun to allow a visible-light photograph.

By the way, it had been possible to map the size and temperature of the hotspots above South Pole’s Enceladus, which is appear to be about 200 Kelvin [minus 100 Fahrenheit, or minus 73 degrees Celsius]. The hotspots are the apparent sources of heat that produce plume of water vapor, ice particles and simple organic compounds.That suppose, they are almost coming from a liquid ocean!

The team also found that Titan is home to a lot of ethane and other hydrocarbons in addition to methane.

In Resume

The Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS)study the dust, plasma and magnetic fields around Saturn in detecting and analyzing plasma (ions and electrons) in the vicinity of the spacecraft.

Illustration of magnetic field around Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL

The above diagram depicts conditions observed by Cassini  during a flyby in Dec. 2013, when Saturn's magnetosphere was highly compressed.

When particles approach the CAPS,they travel into the electron sensor, the ion mass spectrometer, or the ion beam sensor. All three sensors measure the particle’s kinetic energy (a result of its mass and speed), and the direction it has traveling.

The Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) is a large bucket that can rotate to collect particles flowing in different directions around the Saturn system. It detects dust particles one-thousandth of a millimeter wide (the size of smoke particles) and sometimes as small as one-millionth of a millimeter (smaller than a virus).

As a dust particle enters the CDA, it determines the particle's charge, speed, size and which direction it was going. The dust particle then smashes into the instrument’s detectors and is annihilated into smaller parts, from which the instrument determines the dust’s composition.

Black and white image of dusty rings at Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL

Saturn's broad, diffuse E ring (within which several of Saturn's major moons travel in their orbits) is composed primarily of dust particles that are one-thousandth of a millimeter in size. These particles are tiny, much smaller than the width of a human hair, smaller even than red blood cells, but are easily detectable by the CDA.

Minuscule particles of dust wander, orbit and race throughout the Saturn system. Some dust comes from outside the Saturn system, even beyond our solar system, others from Saturn's rings and its moons, as well as the plume of material at the moon Enceladus. By studying those particles with Cassini’s CDA, scientists had better understand  of what produces them and how they interact with Saturn’s rings, moons and magnetosphere.

Black and white image of plumes at Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL

In early 2015, CDA scientists reported the first evidence of hot-water chemistry active on a world other than Earth. Jets around the southern polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus produce a plume of mostly water, but small amounts of other material are also being carried into space with the jets. The team analyzed years of data from CDA, which had detected microscopic particles of silica-rich rock in some of the material that had sprayed out the moon. The size and chemistry of the tiny particles hinted that they came from an area of hydrothermal activity.

Illustration of composition at Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL

The lower panel is a mass spectrum that shows the chemical constituents sampled in Enceladus' plume by Cassini's Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer during its fly-through of the plume on Mar. 12, 2008. Shown are the amounts, in atomic mass per elementary charge (Daltons [Da]), of water vapor, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, simple organics and complex organics identified in the plume.

Illustration of magnetic field around Saturn and Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL

This artist concept shows the detection of a dynamic atmosphere on Saturn's icy moon Enceladus. The Cassini magnetometer instrument is designed to measure the magnitude and direction of the magnetic fields of Saturn and its moons.

Illustration of lightning at Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL

Another artist concept showing how Cassini is able to detect radio signals from lightning on Saturn. Lightning strokes emit electromagnetic energy across a broad range of wavelengths, including the visual wavelengths we see and long radio wavelengths that cause static on an AM radio during a thunderstorm. Some of the radio waves propagate upwards and can be detected at long distances by the radio and plasma wave science instrument.

And now, by the RADAR of Cassini Orbiter, we see Titan's Lakes!

These images from the Radar instrument aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the evolution of a transient feature in the large hydrocarbon sea named Ligeia Mare on Saturn's moon Titan. Credit: NASA/JPL


Scientific's instruments on Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft


Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS)

. Wide Angle Camera [WAC](20 cm f/3.5 refractor; 380-1100 nm; 18 filters; 3.5ox3.5o)
. Narrow Angle Camera [NAC](2 m f/10.5 reflector; 200-1100 nm; 24 filters; 0.35ox0.35o)
. Mass (estimate) = 57.83 kg
. Peak Operating Power (estimate) = 55.90 W
. Peak Data Rate (estimate) = 365.568 kilobits/sec
. Dimensions (approx.) = 95x40x33 cm (NAC); 55x35x33 cm (WAC)

The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS)

Measure ultraviolet light over wavelengths from 55.8 to 190 nanometers, UVIS is a valuable tool to determine the composition, distribution, aerosol particle content and temperatures of their atmospheres.
. Mass (estimate) = 14.46 kg
. Peak Operating Power (estimate) = 11.83 W
. Peak Data Rate (estimate) = 32.096 kilobits/sec
. Dimensions (approx.) = 48 cm x 30 cm x 23 cm

The Cassini Plasma Spectometer (CAPS)

. Mass = 12.50 kg
. Average Operating Power = 14.50 W
. Data rate: 0.5 kilobits/s (survey) to 16 kbps (encounters/selected perisapsis)  
. For more information, read the engineering technical write-up or visit the science team's Web site:


Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS)

.Mass (estimate) = 9.25 kg
.Average Operating Power (estimate) = 27.70 W
.Average Data Rate (estimate) = 1.50 kilobits/s

Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI)



MIMI is the first instrument ever designed to produce an image of a planetary magnetosphere, and it first did so in 2004, before orbit insertion, when Cassini was about 3.7 million miles (about 6 million kilometers) from Saturn.
Mass: 16 kg
Average Operating Power: 14.00 W
Average Data Rate: 7.00 kilobits/s

Radio Science Subsystem (RSS)

Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) 

Sensing Instruments:
. Far-Infrared Focal Plane [FP1] (16.67 to 1000 µm; 4.3 mrad circular field of view)
. Mid-Infrared Focal Plane [FP3] (9.09 to 16.67 µm; 1x10 array of 0.273 mrad squares)
. Mid-Infrared Focal Plane [FP4] (7.16 to 9.09 µm; 1x10 array of 0.273 mrad squares) 
. Mass (estimate) = 39.24 kg
. Peak Operating Power (estimate) = 32.89 W
. Average Operating Power (estimate) = 26.37 W
. Peak Data Rate (estimate) = 6.000 kilobits/sec
. Dimensions (approximate) = 50-cm diameter telescope; 89 cm x 76 cm x 52 cm
. More information, see the engineering technical write-up or visit the science team's Web site: http://cirs.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS)

. Visible Channel [VIMS-V] (0.35 to 1.07 µm [96 channels]; 32x32 mrad field of view)
. Infrared Channel [VIMS-IR] (0.85 to 5.1 µm [256 channels]; 32x32 mrad field of view)
. Mass: 37.14 kg
. Peak Operating Power: 27.20 W
. Average Operating Power: 21.83 W
. Peak Data Rate: 182.784 kilobits/sec
. Dimensions: 78 cm x 76 cm x 55 cm

Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA)

.Mass: 16.36 kg
.Peak Operating Power: 18.38 W (including articulation)
.Average Operating Power: 11.38 W
.Peak Data Rate: 0.524 kilobits/s
.Dimensions: 50.7 cm length x 45.0 cm diameter; 81 cm x 67 cm x 45 cm overall
.For more information read the engineering technical write-up for CDA or visit the science team's Web site:

Magnetometer (MAG)

.Mass: 3.00 kg
.Average Operating Power: 3.10 W
.Average Data Rate: 3.60 kilobits/s

Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS)

.Mass: 6.80 kg
.Average Operating Power: 7.00 W
.Average Data Rate: 0.90 kilobits/s


Sensing Instruments: .Synthetic Aperture Radar Imager [SAR] (13.78 GHz Ku-band; 0.35 to 1.7 km resolution) .Altimeter (13.78 GHz Ku-band; 24 to 27 km horizontal, 90 to 150 m vertical resolution) .Radiometer (13.78 GHz passive Ku-band; 7 to 310 km resolution) Characteristics:
.Mass (estimate) = 41.43 kg
.Peak Operating Power (estimate) = 108.40 W .Peak Data Rate (estimate) = 364.800 kilobits/sec

Scientific's instruments on Huygens Probe

.Descent Imager and Spectral radiometer

.Huygens atmospheric structure Instrument

.Gas Chromatograph and Mass spectrometer

.Aerosol Collector Pyrolyzer

.Surface Science Package

.Doppler Wind experiment

What is Extreme In-space Environments? 

- Normally, we need some criteria to reach: - Heat flux at atmospheric entry: Heat fluxes exceeding 1 kW/ cm2 Hypervel

- Hypervelocity impact: Higher than 20 km/sec

- Low temperature: Lower than −55◦C

- High temperature: Exceeding +125◦C

- Thermal cycling: Cycling between temperature extremes outside of the military standard range of −55◦C to +125◦C

- High pressures: Exceeding 20 bars

- High radiation: Total ionizing dose (TID) exceeding 300 krad (Si)

Additional extremes include deceleration (g–loading) exceeding 100g, acidic environments, and dusty environments.

The spacecraft communicate its discoveries to Earth by the use of a High-Gain Antenna (HGA) and two Low-Gain Antennas (LGH1 & LGA2).


Watch as NASA's Cassini spacecraft swoops past Saturn's largest moon, and takes snapshots of it's lakes, clouds, and atmospheric haze! Credit: Ian Regan, January 8, 2014.

On unexplored worlds, the sound of science is a harmonious melody of chimes, clicks and mechanical whirrs. At least, that’s how one scientist interpreted the January 2005 descent and landing of the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe on Titan. Credit: NASA

This video was created from approximately 25,000 images captured by the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. The probe passed the planet Jupiter for a gravitational speed boost and captured some shots during the process. The Cassini Jupiter flyby was leisurely and slow and nearly equatorial.

All images can be found at: http://pds-rings-tools.seti.org/opus/

Credit: Lightning Rod, July 13, 2015.

On 15 October 1997, NASA's Cassini orbiter embarked on an epic, seven-year voyage to the Saturnian system. Hitching a ride was ESA's Huygens probe, destined for Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The final chapter of the interplanetary trek for Huygens began on 25 December 2004 when it deployed from the orbiter for a 22-day solo cruise toward the haze-shrouded moon. Plunging into Titan’s atmosphere, on 14 January 2005, the probe survived the hazardous 2 hour 27 minute descent to touch down safely on Titan’s frozen surface.

This narrated movie, created with data collected by the Huygens Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR), depicts the view from Huygens during the last few hours of this historic journey.

This new version of the movie uses updated DISR data and was released on 14 January 2015 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Huygen's landing on Titan. 
Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona  Video: Erich Karkoschka, DISR team, University of Arizona. Script: Chuck See, DISR team, University of Arizona. Narration: David Harrington. Music: Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 by Debbie Hu (Yelm, Washington, USA).

More information about this video can be found at http://sci.esa.int/cassini-huygens/39...

Credit: ESA Science & Technology, January 6, 2017.


After almost 20 years in space, the Cassini mission will end on September 15, 2017 at 5:07 a.m. PDT (8:07 a.m. EDT)

On April 22, 2017, Cassini will leap over the rings to begin its final series of daring divesbetween the planet and the inner edge of the rings. This is the Cassini "Grand Finale." After 22 of these orbits, each taking six days to complete, the spacecraft, will plunge into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant planet, where it will burn up like a meteor, ending the epic mission to the Saturn system.

Reference: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/overview/