Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn Overview

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Information about Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn Overview

Published on January 23, 2008

Author: AEM



The international Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997 and had a marathon 7-year 2-billion mile journey to the distant planet Saturn. The 23-foot tall, 14-foot wide, 6-ton spacecraft is the largest most sophisticated outer planet spacecraft ever built, and is in its third year of operation in orbit around the planet Saturn. Cassini-Huygens has been returning extraordinary data about the entire Saturn system: the spectacular rings; the numerous icy satellites with a variety of unique surface features; the giant planet itself; a huge magneto-sphere teeming with particles that interact with the rings and moons; and the intriguing moon Titan, which is slightly larger than the planet Mercury, and whose hazy atmosphere is denser than that of Earth. This talk will be an overview of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn with a summary of the top science returns of its first three years in orbit.
The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, run out of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota, hosts Trina Ray of NASA JPL on January 22, 2008.

Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn Overview QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.

JPL Overview

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by the California Institute of Technology, is the world leader in robotic exploration of the solar system.

Mission Overview

Huygens and Cassini The Scientists and the Machines Giovanni Domenico Cassini Christiaan Huygens (1625-1712), Italo-French (1629-1695) Dutch astronomer, who discovered scientist, who several of Saturn’s satellites: discovered the true Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys and nature of Saturn’s Dione. In 1675, he rings, and in 1655, discovered what is today Titan called “Cassini Division” the gap in-between the two main rings of Saturn

Cassini Orbiter & Huygens Probe

Launched on October 15, 1997 from KSC QuickTime™ and a YUV420 codec decompressor 7 year cruise on are needed to see this picture. VVEJGA trajectory

Cassini Spacecraft Cassini Spacecraft Specs • Height: 6.8 m (22 ft) • Diameter: 4 m (13 ft) • Mass: 2125 kg (2.8 tons) (fueled+probe): 5700 kg (6 tons) • Power: 700 Watts at SOI • .5 GB recorder • Huygens Probe: 320 kg (~700 lbs) Cassini Instruments: Magnetospherie and Plasma Science (MAPS) Optical Remote Sensing (ORS) CDA: Cosmic Dust Analyzer CIRS: Composite Infrared Spectrometer INMS: Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer ISS: Imaging Science Subsystem MAG: Dual Technique Magnetometer UVIS: Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph MIMI: Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument VIMS: Visual and Infrared mapping Spectrometer RPWS: Radio and Plasma Wave Science Microwave Remote Sensing RADAR: Cassini Radar RSS: Radio Science Subsystem

Cost • Cassini total cost $3 billion – $2.5 B NASA for Cassini, $0.5 B ESA for Huygens – Spread over ~20 y -> $150 M/y – Cassini 0.5% of NASA annual budget ($16.8 B) • NASA annual budget $16.8 B – 1.7% of U.S. discretionary spending ($982 B) – 0.6% total U.S. budget ($2800 B)

Tour Overview 4 year Prime Mission – 75 orbits – 45 targeted Titan flybys – 8 targeted icy satellite flybys 5 Science Objectives QuickTime™ and a Animation decompressor Titan – are needed to see this picture. Saturn – Rings – Icy Satellites – Magnetosphere – Tour (Petal) movie

#1: Huygens on Titan

Why Titan? • Diameter – 5150km; larger than Mercury and Pluto • Only planetary satellite with a dense atmosphere • Surface: P: 1.5 X Earth’s; T: 94 K (-179 C) • Composition – Nitrogen (N2); Methane (CH4) and rich array of hydrocarbons (CxHx) and nitriles (HCN) • Surface – obscured by photochemical haze • Murky atmosphere may be similar to that which existed on Earth before life formed. • Most Earth-like body in the solar system: rivers, lakes, seas, mountains, dunes, channels, winds, volcanos, thick atmosphere - chemically complex

Huygens Separation & Entry Release: December 24, 2004 Decent: January 14, 2005 Data Collection: •Decent: 2h 27m •Surface: 1h 12m •Radiometric: 5h 52m QuickTime™ and a MPEG-4 Video decompressor are needed to see this picture.

The Huygens Descent QuickTime™ and a Sorenson Video 3 decompressor are needed to see this picture.

The Surface of Titan

Arial view of Titan

Huygens “News”

#2: Enceladus

National Geographic, 1981 Slide 22

Enceladus, July 14, 2005 175 km flyby!!

Two UVIS stellar occultations. The one in July identified a local atmosphere around the south pole.

Enceladus Flyby: 12 November 2005

GEYSER COMPOSITION (Waite et al. 2006; Hansen et al., 2006) H2O 91 ± 3 % wt. 2 CO 2 3.2 ± 0.6 % wt. N2 4 ± 1 % wt.* 2 CH4 1.6 ± 0.4 % wt. 4 CO < 0.9 % wt (i.e., (i.e., NH3, HCN, C2H2, C3H8 < 0.5 % wt. (i.e., detected) 3 22 38 *Inferred from a combination of INMS and UVIS data

Why the South Pole? Nimmo and Pappalardo (2006) • Low-density silicate or ice diapir can be sufficient to overcome the equatorial bulge and reorient Enceladus • Resulting stresses may be consistent with the observed tectonic patterns • Few mgal gravity anomaly: might be detectable by Cassini? Slide 30

Planetary Heat Flow Enceladus Avg Earth South Polar Terrain 87 mW/m2 250 mW/m2 Tiger Stripes Yellowstone 13,000 mW/m2 2500 mW/m2

“Mimas Paradox” NASA/JPL/SSI Mimas Enceladus Bistable tidal heating? Diameter 420 km 504 km • Enceladus is warm, dissipative, stays warm. Density 1.2 1.6 • Mimas is cold, rigid, stays Distance from Saturn 3.1 RS 3.9 RS cold. Orbital Eccentricity 0.0206 0.0047 Need a way to “kick start” Tidal heating, solid 16 MW 160 MW Enceladus initially ice rigidity, Q = 20 Slide 34

#3: Titan from Space

Titan: the most Earth-like body in the Solar System detached haze mid-latitude streaks drainage channels huge cloud system mountains river channels wind driven dunes aeolian patterns lakes few craters

ISS map Titan @ 938 nm

VIMS map (r = 5 µm; g = 2 µm; b = 1.6 µm)

RADAR map (TA-T30)

87°W 20°N Impact basin (above) is 100 km about 450 km in diameter Impact crater (left) is about 80 km in diameter 16°W 11°N Impact Craters Cryovolcano and surface flows

Cat Scratches” = Dunes? Longitudinal Dunes Arabian Peninsula Dunes probably consist of wind-blown hydrocarbon particles

Wispy terrain to east of Shikoku Lucky (Great Britain) resembles dunes seen in earlier SAR data Number 13 Circular feature Guabonito may not be an impact crater after all This complex area of hilly terrain and erosional channels is located atop Xanadu, the continent-sized region QuickTime™ and a Sorenson Video 3 decompressor are needed to see this picture.

A Titan Lake? Cassini had seen several “suspiciously lacustrine features”…

…until finally Cassini found the Titan equivalent of Minnesota.

Titan's Atmospheric Variability mid-latitude streaks Seasonal detached haze changes in 150 km higher weather than observed patterns by Voyager South-polar convective clouds VIMS images of mid-latitude clouds complex, variable haze structure

What Would the INMS Measure in Other Ionospheres? We have discovered that Titan has the most chemically complex ionosphere in the solar system. There are likely strong connections to neutral chemistry; these are still being explored.

#4: Saturn Orbit Insertion and the Rev 28 occultation Images

SOI Trajectory

Saturn Orbit Insertion Ring Plane Crossing QuickTime™ and a Sorenson Video 3 decompressor X are needed to see this picture.

Approach picture from Cassini: May 10, 2004 F Dist: 27 million km. Pixel: 161 km. Moon: Prometheus A C B Cassini ISS image: Space Science Institute (Boulder), NASA/JPL. Encke Gap W~350 km The main rings Cassini Division

Complex Rings QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.

Rev 28 Occultation

For the first time, we can see all the rings clearly in a single image! D-Ring E-Ring Cassini G-Ring F-Ring Division A-Ring B-Ring C-Ring There is a lot going on in this image, so let’s take a closer look…. No need for these artist’s renditions anymore.

Out here, we see the light scattered by the rings A CD B D C On the planet, we see the light blocked by the rings C B CD A The non-trivial relationship between brightness and amount of material leads to strange images….

Come join us!

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