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Cassini-Huygens - Mission to Saturn and Titan


Cassini spacecraft The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moon Titan consists of two spacecraft, the NASA Saturn orbiter and the ESA Huygens Probe. The probe is attached to the orbiter until its release towards Titan in December 2004. The mission was successfully launched on 15 October 1997. Because the Titan IV rocket could not give the spacecraft enough energy to go directly to Saturn, two Venus flybys ( 26 April 1998 and 24 June 1999), an Earth flyby (18 August 1999) and a Jupiter flyby (30 December 2000) were made for gravity assist 'slingshots'. Arrival at Saturn was on 1 July 2004.
Cassini launch The orbiter mission profile includes a four year (2004-2008) detailed exploration of the Saturnian system. Huygens will descend through Titan's atmosphere and land on its surface in January 2005. The orbiter's over 70 revolutions of Saturn include 45 Titan encounters along with some targetted icy satellite flybys of Enceladus, Dione, Rhea and Iapetus at altitides of 1000 km or less. This will allow a detailed exploration of Saturn's magnetosphere by the orbiter plasma instruments, including the plasma interaction with the rings, with Titan and with the icy satellites.
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26th May 2006
Andrew Coates