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Cassini Saturn Orbiter

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vseehua
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  #1 Old 02-07-2004 Default Cassini Saturn Orbiter

Here is one update abt the Cassini Orbiter which just started its orbit of the planet Saturn

Quote:
Cassini gets ringside view of Saturn's mysteries


By Michael Coren
CNN
Friday, July 2, 2004 Posted: 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)



This image of Saturn's rings was taken by the Cassini spacecraft after successful completion of orbit insertion over the rings.

CASSINI-HUYGENS MISSION
Saturn and its moon Titan


SATURN: Planet second in size to Jupiter with a diameter of 74,898 miles (120,511 km). Seven rings of ice and rock particles with 31 known moons. Visited by Pioneer 11 (1979), Voyager 1 (1980), Voyager 2 (1981).


TITAN: Largest Saturnian moon. May harbor organic compounds similar to those predating life on Earth. Temperature is minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit.


CASSINI ORBITER: Launched Oct. 15, 1997. Spacecraft is 22 feet long and weighs 12,593 pounds (5,667 kg). Runs on nuclear power. Will orbit Saturn 76 times over four years.


HUYGENS PROBE: Spacecraft is 8.9 feet in diameter and 705 pounds (317 kg). Will be released from Cassini on Dec. 24 and enter Titan's atmosphere on Jan. 14.


MISSION COST: $3.3 billion, shared by NASA, ESA, Italian Space Agency.


RELATED
Gallery: Saturn's rings


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


(CNN) -- The spacecraft Cassini is sending back the finest images ever captured of Saturn's rings, giving scientists new insights into the planet, the origin of our solar system and even the formation of galaxies.

"They are a treasure trove," said Cassini scientist Bonnie Buratti, who will use the spacecraft for visual infrared mapping.

The rings -- the brightest in the solar system -- extend for hundreds of thousands of kilometers around the planet. They are composed of swarms of dust particles, tumbling rocks and icebergs of frozen water.

"I don't think you have to be a ring scientist to appreciate this," said Carolyn Porco, a member of Cassini's imaging team. "I'm blown away."

The highest resolution images of the rings will come in Thursday as Cassini continues its orbit around the distant planet. The most recent visits by two Voyager spacecraft during the early 1980s produced grainier images.

"One of the most fundamental questions we want to answer during this mission [is] the relationship between the rings and the satellites," Buratti said.

Scientists believe that Saturn's rings will refine models explaining how the planets -- and even galaxies -- coalesced from the diffuse clouds of gas and particles in the early universe.

Scientists are poring over new images that Cassini is sending back during its first of 76 scheduled orbits.

The intrepid spacecraft shot through a gap in the rings on Wednesday night to become the first spacecraft to enter Saturn's orbit.

"We'll learn more about the relationship between the rings and satellites...and a lot of the models that will be tested also apply to galactic formation and the origin of our solar system," Buratti said.

Saturn's rings are thought to have originated relatively recently -- from 10 million to 100 million years ago -- following a huge orbital collision. The massive impact of a satellite around Saturn and the smaller, subsequent collisions probably led to the planet's rings, although astronomers cannot be sure.

Saturn boasts the largest rings in the solar system, according to The Universal Book of Astronomy, outshining those of all three other giant planets: Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. The seven main rings are denoted by the letters A through G.

Although the rings are only about 1.5 kilometers high, they are extremely wide -- more than 170,000 kilometers if taken together. Yet their mass would account for barely 1 percent of Earth's moon and measure just 100 kilometers across.

The gaps in the rings that give Saturn its distinctive appearance are caused by gravitational tides that pull on the jostling debris, as well as smaller satellites which clean up certain orbits by "vacuuming" smaller particles.

Cassini used one of the outer gaps to enter orbit. The spacecraft is named for 17th century Italian-born French astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini, who discovered a major gap in the rings, since known as Cassini's division.

The trail-blazing spacecraft may reveal more about long-standing mysteries of the rings during its four-year mission.

Dark radial markings, called spokes, and the F-Ring, with a braided structure with what appear to be "knots," have long intrigued astronomers. Cassini is expected to relay about 300,000 images during the next four years.
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  #2 Old 03-07-2004 Default

With that probe safely in orbit and all its onboard systems and instruments working perfectly, we're all set to have a lot to see from the neighbourhood of the Lord of the Rings.
A Grand Tour fit to follow on to the Voyagers and Galileo missions.
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  #3 Old 13-07-2004 Default

can't wait for cassini's huygens decent on saturn.
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  #4 Old 13-07-2004 Default

That is 6 months away my friend, so its a long wait.
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  #5 Old 13-07-2004 Default

i waited for cassini since the late 90s. I am sure I could wait for another 6 months. =)
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  #6 Old 14-07-2004 Default

Wow! You can start waiting for the Kuiper Express then. Its scheduled for launch before 2010 and arrivial at Pluto around 2025, if the project gets the go ahead.
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  #7 Old 18-07-2004 Default

well.its worth all the wait.....things in space are really interesting.......consider we need a few millenias to achieve the level now...its quite amazing what science and technology are changing our preception abt our universe
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  #8 Old 18-07-2004 Default

Aye, that's right. Space has kept me fascinated for almost a decade already. A lot have been achieved, but some say that the trend in S&T development is slowing down, although its still exponential. All the same, I'm not complaining.
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  #9 Old 24-07-2004 Default

Quote:
Saturn's brilliant jewel, water-ice-covered Enceladus, is the most reflective body in the solar system.

Reflecting greater than 90 percent of the incidental sunlight, this moon was the source of much surprise during the Voyager era. Enceladus (pronounced "en-SELL-uh-duss"), exhibits both smooth and lightly cratered terrains that are crisscrossed here and there by linear, groove-like features. It also has characteristics similar to those of Jupiter's moons, Ganymede and Europa, making it one of Saturn's most enigmatic moons.

Cassini will investigate its rich geologic record in a series of four planned close flybys. The first flyby is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2005.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on July 3, 2004, from a distance of 1.6 million kilometers (990,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase angle of about 103 degrees. The image scale is 10 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel. Enceladus is roughly 499 kilometers (310 miles) across. The image has not been magnified.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

For more information, about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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  #10 Old 24-07-2004 Default

for more info on the mission, you can visit this site

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ca...ain/index.html
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