Thursday, September 22, 2011

Astronomy Cast - Ep. 229

In 1982 NASA decided that after the Mariner missions, they needed to keep doing Mariner missions. So they started on what would become Cassini, but it was still called Mariner Mark II back then. Its goal was to be the first probe to examine Saturn and its moons up close for a long period of time, as the other probes that flew by, Pioneer and Voyager had only flown by. Launching in 1997 with a total build price of 3.26 billion dollars, Cassini was more than ready to do its job, and to do it right. Due to its small engines, Cassini was not lucky enough to be able to take a direct route to Saturn. Using Venus and Earth for multiple gravitational assists and eventually flew by Jupiter on its way to Saturn. Most of the Pictures you see of Jupiter were taken by the Cassini craft. On the 4th of July 2004, NASA was able to put Cassini into Orbit around Saturn. Once it arrived Cassini also launched the Huygens craft into Titans atmosphere to do research.

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