Cassini / Huygens
October 15, 1997


Collage of Cassini's prelaunch and launch


The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft, the most ambitious effort in planetary space exploration ever mounted, launches on a 6 1/2 year journey to Saturn. A joint endeavor between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, the mission will be the first orbiter of Saturn. It will study the planetary system for four years.

The Huygens probe will be released from Cassini and parachute through the atmosphere to the surface of Saturn's largest and most interesting moon, Titan, which is
shrouded by an opaque atmosphere. Titan's atmosphere includes organic compounds, leading scientists to believe that the moon may be like a frozen vault of conditions similar to those on Earth before life began. The Cassini orbiter will also use imaging radar to map Titan's surface.

See also: Cassini home page

Download image 1.9mb