Cassini’s historic space journey to Saturn actually began back in 1990 when the onset of the behemoth engineering task was undertaken build the pioneering satellite. It took seven years to build, and was finally launched in October of 1997. Just one of many “serendipitous” facts about the Cassini mission is that it would ultimately require the extra gravity boost of Venus [ twice ] and Jupiter to propel the tiny satellite all the way to Saturn, in spite of Cassini’s plan to be launched by the mighty Titan rocket, the largest space rocket on earth. And it “just so happened” that just such a rare planetary alignment of Venus and Jupiter was to occur in the late 1990s which would not occur again for more than 600 years, making the October 1997 launch of Cassini a unique an unparalleled moment of opportunity, a quite literal catapult into the 21st century of solar system exploration. I find this a remarkable fact about the Cassini Mission.
“Cassini launched in October 1997 with the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe. The probe was equipped with six instruments to study Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. It landed on Titan’s surface on Jan. 14, 2005, and returned spectacular results.”
To say that the journey of the tiny satellite was perilous at points would be an understatement. As the satellite finally closed in on Saturn, Cassini actually had to pass through the rings of Saturn to achieve proper orbital lock around the giant planet, risking obliteration by the trillions of rocks and ice particles, some as large as houses. Another serendipitous moment was checked off when the satellite passed through the rings unharmed, a near miraculous achievement.
Further, when the satellite’s smaller exploratory unit was discharged for landing on Titan, the signal it would send back to NASA and EU space scientists on earth across more than 1 billion kilometers of space announcing it’s landing was no stronger than that of a mobile cell phone at the time.
Today some 15 years later we are treated to a brief photo essay of what Satellite Cassini has discovered, including moons too numerous to remember their names, and color images of the glistening blue lakes of Titan. Perhaps all the scientific focus on Mars has been misplaced. I happen to believe that the future of humankind might possibly be destined to become ever more entwined with the orbit, resources and mysteries of Saturn’s Titan.
Other Videos Covering Cassini’s Journey Through Space
Tags: space, solar system, space exploration, Cassini space satellite, Cassini, Saturn, moons of Saturn, Titan, space exploration videos, MIMAS, TITAN, ENCELADUS, DIONE, HYPERION, TETHYS, SATURN-RINGS, RHEA, SATURN, IAPETUS, PHOEBE, SATURN-ERING, HELENE, PANDORA, ATLAS, CALYPSO, PROMETHEUS, JANUS, EPIMETHEUS, TELESTO, SATURN-FRING, SKY, SUN, JUPITER, SATURN-GRING, PAN, UNK, PALLENE, METHONE, POLYDEUCES, SATURN-DRING, DAPHNIS, SKADI, MUNDILFARI, KIVIUQ, IJIRAQ, S18_2004, S8_2004, SIARNAQ, PAALIAQ, S13_2004, S14_2004, TARVOS, ERRIAPO, YMIR, K07S4, ALBIORIX, SUTTUNG, ANTHE, LOGE, THRYM, SKOLL, BESTLA, KARI, ERRIAPUS, AEGAEON, BEBHIONN, HYROKKIN, GREIP, BERGELMIR, SKATHI, SUTTUNGR, S12_2004, TARQEQ, THRYMR, JARNSAXA, SURTUR, HATI, NARVI
- NASA Reveals First Topographical Map of Saturn’s Moon, Titan (scienceworldreport.com)
- Cassini observes meteors colliding with Saturn’s rings (phys.org)
- Titan Unmasked: 1st Map of Saturn Moon’s Topography Revealed (space.com)
- NASA Maps Titan (geeky-gadgets.com)
- NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data suggests Wild Weather for Saturn’s Moon Titan this Summer (clarksvilleonline.com)
- Exceptional Full Moon & Saturn viewing tonight! (wtvr.com)