Titan and Cassini Essay

Submitted By Xiaowen-Sun
Words: 318
Pages: 2

Cassini-Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. The spacecraft launched on Oct 15th, 1997 and entered orbit around Saturn on July 1st, 2004. It flew into orbit from below the famous rings that circle the planet. Cassini crossed through a large space between two of the huge rings at speeds close to 87,000 kilometers an hour. Cassini flew to within 158,000 kilometers of Saturn’s center. That is the closest Cassini will come to Saturn. After passing through the rings, Cassini fired its rocket engines. This slowed the spacecraft, permitting it to be captured by Saturn’s gravity. In this way, the Cassini spacecraft entered an orbit around Saturn. It had taken Cassini almost seven years to reach Saturn after traveling more than three-thousand-million kilometers through space.

The purpose of the mission is to perform close-up studies of Saturn, its rings, moons, and magnetic environment. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is a target of special interest because of atmospheric and perhaps surface characteristics it shares with early Earth. The instrument-laden Huygens probe descended via parachute to Titan's surface to directly sample the atmosphere and provided our first view of its surface.

Thanks to the Huygens lander and to radar on the Cassini spacecraft we are beginning to get some good looks at the surface of Titan.
Scientists have discovered lakes of liquid methane and ethane near Titan's poles.
They have also spotted clouds in the atmosphere of Titan.