Exciting discoveries from the Cassini mission at Saturn were featured at Open House 2008. Open House 2009 is on May 2 and 3.
In 1997, a spacecraft the size of a school bus was launched by JPL with a mission to explore the fascinating ringed planet Saturn and its many moons.
Seven years and 2.2 billion miles of travel later, Cassini arrived.
Dave Doody, Cassini Real Time Operations Lead. We are studying the atmosphere of Saturn, the rings,
the moons, the magnetic environment, and sending all of the data back to Earth.
Jo Pitesky, PlanetQuest Scientist and Cassini Science Planner We have seen for the first time that there is material coming off from the surface of the moon and streaming out behind it, and we see that it is forming part of the rings.
We are only finding out now how old they are, how young some of them are, did they come from an old broken up satellite?
Are they still being regenerated? Why have they lasted so long?
Since its arrival at Saturn in 2004, Cassini has continuously revealed the secrets of the planet and its moons.
Scott Edgington, Cassini Scientist So it's really cold, and we are seeing a lot of these lakes.
It’s really the land of lakes, more than Minnesota.The surface temperature on Titan is very very cold.
Water ice is hard as a rock; it’s not going to be a liquid, so we know that water ice is not forming these lakes.
However if you go back to the atmosphere, you have natural gas - methane.
Its properties are just right, the temperatures are just right, that it condenses, forms rivers and eventually these lakes.
Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is a gas giant.
Studying Saturn, its rings and its moons will help us understand more about how our entire solar system works.
Todd Barber, Cassini Propulsion Engineer Saturn is like the solar system as a whole and miniature.
You start to answer questions that we want to know about life on Earth, like how did life start here?
How did the solar system form? You can study that on a smaller scale with Saturn.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology