The Icy Satellites

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The mission for exploration

 The Icy Satellites The missions for explorationCassini-Huygens

The Cassini-Huygens mission is for Saturn the mission that Galileo is for Jupiter. Cassini is the first probe to maintain an orbit around Saturn and carried with her a smaller probe for the exploration of Titan. She was lunched in 1997, and arrived at her destination in 2004. She will continue her mission until 2008.

The objectives of the mission are to better understand the magnetic field, the moons and the rings of Saturn as well as their interactions with each other.

Cassini is NASA's project where as Huygens was ESA's. In 2005, the little probe left Cassini and descended into Titan's atmosphere. It slowed it's descent with parachutes and dropped softly onto the satellites surface. It sent back readings for a few hours before becoming inactive as planned.

Cassini discovered cryovolcanic activity on Enceladus and showed how little irregular satellites (the shepherd moons) influenced the shape of the rings.

Above and beyond the initial objectives of scientists, it has proved to be a great opportunity for some amazing picture taking. The moons and rings are so numerous that "random meetings" frequent. The shadow play between the rings and the planet are just are beautiful.

Figures 1 to 6(credit: JPL/NASA)

1) Saturn's shadow on the rings
2) The Shepherd moons
3) Close up of Mimas, Dione and the rings
4) Rhea behind the rings
5) Titan and it's atmosphere, Enceladus and the rings, lit by the Sun that is in the line of sight, behind Titan (credit: JPL/NASA)
6) Enceladus (and its geysers) et Tethys in ring E

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