Spacecraft Cassini is  
Visiting Saturn!

How Do You Send a Spacecraft to Saturn?

Saturn is pretty far away, more than 9 times farther from the sun than Earth.
Depiction of the sun and a tiny dot that's Earth on the far left, where we are, and then to extreme right, nine times farther than the Earth is from the Sun, is Saturn, where Cassini will be
What does it take to get a spacecraft all the way out there?
First you need to build the spacecraft in a very specific way. It must be
Picture of a rocketship with the words Light Weight riding on its back as it launches into spaceso a rocket can launch it into space, yet
Picture of Saturn radiating towards the word STRONG to withstand intense radiation, first from the sun, then later from Saturn
A beam of blue with the word RELATIVELY on top of it travels down to the word 'small'so it can speed up fast enough to get to Saturn in a few years, but
Red words BIG Enough are surrounded by the names of all the spacecraft's systems and mechanical parts, which are written in blue to hold all the cameras, science instruments, engine, thrusters, computers, antennas, and many other important devices,
AND duplicates of a lot of these things, in case something breaksThe same image as before, with the red words BIG Enough and blue words of all the systems, but in addition are more names in blue of all the backup systems and parts Cassini has
Image shows a tiny part of the last image, where a small box that reads 'electrical power source' is tucked against the word BIGAnd its electrical power source must be [COMPACT] enough to fit in whatever space is left
Yet POWERFUL enough to run everything on the spacecraft for at least 10 years! Again, same image as before but lines radiate from the 'electrical power supply' box, to so many systems, all of which it must operate for at least 10 years!

Sound like a tall order?
It is!
But NASA engineers and scientists
have done it all before!!

Pioneer, Voyager, and Galileo were all designed this way, so they could travel to the far gas giants of our solar system. In fact, Voyager 2 got all the way to Neptune! Voyager 2 is shown passing Neptune and saying, Incredible!! I made it to Neptune!
Once you've built the spacecraft just right, you then need some kind of fuel to fly it all the way out to Saturn. Getting way out there takes a lot of energy!
Cassini the spacecraft is shown outside Joe's Rocket Fuel, where a sign says 'Special! Fuel to reach Saturn!' However Cassini is telling Joe, 'Thanks, but I can't carry that much fuel. The Titan rocket wouldn't be able to launch me into space!'Can Cassini carry enough rocket fuel for the trip? Cassini must take some, but can't take enough to power itself the whole way. The fuel it can carry needs to be reserved for adjusting its course and getting into orbit at Saturn.
How about solar panels? First of all, solar panels could only provide electrical power, not propulsion, and even then, they would work effectively only as far as Mars. Past that, the sun becomes too dim to power a spacecraft like Cassini. Cassini the spacecraft is shown visiting Sol's Solar Farm, where all these solar panels are lying around. Cassini is telling Sol, 'Sure, you could build me solar panels for Saturn, but they'd have to be the size of 2 tennis courts! I'd never get off the ground!'
What can we use then?
What we've been using for decades --
Planet Power!
Diagram of how spacecraft sling around planets in order to increase their speed without liquid fuel
Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, and many other spacecraft increased their speed by flying alongside a planet on the way and getting a "gravity assist." That's when a spacecraft uses a planet's gravity and orbital energy to swing itself faster and on to a farther planet.
Cassini is shown zooming around Venus, saying, 'One down, three to go!' Cassini will get two gravity assists from Venus, one from Earth, and one from Jupiter. Only then will it be fast enough to make it to Saturn.
This long, windy route will add a billion miles to Cassini's path, but the planetary boosts will provide energy equivalent to 75 tons of rocket fuel!
Cassini passes Jupiter and the Galilean moons, saying, 'Next stop, Saturn orbit!'
Once you've built your Saturn-bound spacecraft and mapped out a path which gives it the power to fly all the way out there, what next?
You give it a good send-off, of course!
Once Cassini was all ready and about to travel to Cape Canaveral for launch, everyone who worked on the spacecraft came to visit it one more time...
Drawing of the long long line of JPL employees, contractors, and their families and friends, who all waited to see the Cassini spacecraft in the Spacecraft Assemply Building one last time, before it was shipped to the launch pad in Florida. In the background are the San Gabriel mountains. You can see inside how the line snakes up stairs to the viewing area, so everyone can see the 3-story tall Cassini craft
With their families and friends, workers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, all waited in line to look one last time at the amazing machine which would "see" Saturn for us!
One engineer brought her new baby along and thought about how her child would just be starting school when Cassini arrived at Saturn. A white woman with long brown hair wearing a blue shirt and skirt and sporting a JPL badge holds an infant as she looks at the wondrous spacecraft Cassini, about to leave for Saturn
A black man in a suit with a JPL badge talks to his son who is looking through the viewing window at Cassini A scientist and his preteen son talked about how the son would be able to vote by the time the spacecraft makes its first pass by the huge rings!
Cassini will arrive at Saturn in July 2004.
What will you be doing then?

What Will Cassini Do at Saturn?

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