Spacecraft Cassini is  
Visiting Saturn!

What Will Cassini Do at Saturn?

After Cassini travels its winding way to Saturn, what then? How will it explore the huge expanse where Saturn and its 34 moons live?
Cassini is shown approaching the Saturn system, saying, 'Wow! at last!!'
Saturn's moons are so many and so spread out that Cassini probably won't get to fly near some of them. For example, it will take too much fuel to see much of the more distant ones . . . Cassini is shown orbiting the inner Saturn system, and the moon Iapetus, farther out, calls to the spacecraft, saying, 'Yo, Cassini! Over here!!'
Atlas calls out to Cassini orbiting outside the main ring system, saying, 'Hey, Cassini! You forgot me!!' . . . and it may be too dangerous to fly close to some moons nearest Saturn, the ones way inside its rings . . .

But with the large moon Titan's help,
Cassini will try and explore as many moons as possible.
Here's what will happen:

In the summer of 2004, Cassini will arrive in Saturn's neighborhoodCassini approaches the ringed planet, saying, 'So this is Saturn...'
Cassini flies over Phoebe's red-colored surface, saying, 'Far out, Phoebe!' Saturn is shown above the horizon, with a bright moon nearby First the spacecraft will pass near the farthest known moon, Phoebe. This will be Cassini's only chance to see this small moon, it is so much farther from Saturn than the next one in.
At last Cassini will approach the great ringed planet itself! Cassini will cross the ring plane by flying through a gap in the outer rings. Cassini dives through one of the outer rings, yelling, 'YeeeHA!!!!'
Then Cassini will fire its engine for about 90 minutes, to slow down and put itself in orbit!
Cassini is shown against the planet as a backdrop, firing its engine to slow down, yelling 'WHOOOOOOOOA, NELLIE!'
Cassini releases the probe Huygens and it flies away. Cassini calls out, 'Go, little buddy!' as the probe says, 'wheeeee!'A few months later, Cassini will release the Huygens probe, which will then begin its flight to Titan.
Once it reaches the large moon, Huygens will dive into Titan's atmosphere and parachute to the surface. Cassini will fly overhead and keep contact with Huygens, to transmit to Earth the pictures and other data the probe sends back. Huygens disappears into the big orange cloudy moon Titan, as Cassini calls after it, 'Keep in touch!!'
Cassini flies out to Titan for another gravity assist, saying, 'Sling me again, Titan!'Cassini will then explore the other moons, each time returning to Titan's neighborhood for a course-altering "gravity assist." Titan will sling Cassini in a slightly different path each time, so we can explore Saturn's north and south poles and the surfaces of as many of the smaller moons as possible.
Cassini's main mission will take it around Saturn about 75 times, and on every orbit, Cassini will fly close to a moon every 8 to 120 days, depending on where the next moon is. Cassini flies around Rhea, complaining, 'So many moons, so little fuel!'
Cassini flies over Dione and says, 'You and Rhea look so alike! are you sisters?' Through Cassini, all Earth will get closely acquainted with the long, white wisps on Dione and Rhea...
Tethys' fabulous, moon-encircling canyon... Cassini flies over Tethys' canyon and says, 'This moon almost became TWO moons!'
Cassini looks into Crater Herschel and says, 'Yikes!! That HAD to hurt!' Mimas' huge crater...
Enceladus' smooth, bright, resurfaced plains... Cassini jokes while flying over Enceladus, 'and today's weather on Enceladus: Bright and Sunny, with a high of minus 330 degrees Fahrenheit!!'
and perhaps even some new moons!
Cassini flies by Hyperion and asks the moon, 'So, what is Titan REALLY like?' Cassini will check out tumbling Hyperion, a moon tossed around by nearest neighbor Titan's strong gravitational pull...
And probe Iapetus and its strange dark and light sides, maybe solving the long-standing mystery of just what Iapetus is made of. Cassini flies over the strange dark and light sides of Iapetus, wondering, 'What the heck IS that stuff?!'
Cassini is back for another gravity assist at Titan, saying, 'Titan, I'm BAAAAACK!!!' Each time the spacecraft will also swing by Titan. Cassini will get pretty close to Titan about 45 times.
Cassini will check out the poles of Saturn and pass over the tops of a few of the moons... Cassini passes over Saturn's north pole, exclaiming, 'This is like leapfrog!'
And, of course, Cassini will show us every bit of the gorgeous rings!
Cassini flies over Saturn's huge, golden rings, and says in admiration, 'SPECTACULAR!!!'
By 2008, Cassini's main mission will be complete. But if the spacecraft is healthy and still has enough fuel, there's no telling what Cassini will do next! More moon visits? Go check out an asteroid? Perhaps go explore another planet? We'll just have to wait and see!!
Cassini is shown flying away from Saturn's system after its mission is over, saying, 'Saturn was FANTASTIC! What's next?!'


Story and Illustrations by
Sue Kientz
with help from NASA images

Cassini Flash Movies and German Translation by
Wolfram Patzl

For more on Cassini, visit the home page:
Cassini-Huygens: Mission to Saturn and Titan

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