NASA’s Great Space Mission, Cassini
One of NASA’s greatest space missions was the launching of the Cassini spacecraft. Starting on June 30, 2004 and ending on September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft overcame several challenges in order to enter Saturn’s atmosphere. It traveled a complicated path to gain speed from other planets’ gravity. The cost of the mission totaled approximately 3.26 billion dollars.
Cassini settled in Saturn’s orbit on July 1, 2004. Its main mission was to find more of Saturn’s moons and gather more information about Saturn’s rings. Cassini’s most important task was to release the Huygen Lander on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The Huygen Lander went though a mysterious haze and landed on June 14, 2005. Researchers examined pictures sent back of the rock fields, and discovered more about its climate.
Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, larger than either Mercury or Pluto. Its atmosphere is shrouded in thick orange clouds and dense nitrogen. Researchers believe Titan may contain liquid bodies of methane and ethane. They also believe Titan’s surface could be hundreds of feet deep in slush. Methane may also be in the form of snow and water as well as ethane.
Many scientists have reason to believe that Titan supported life in the past. They speculate that the temperature could have been warmer in the past due to volcanic activity or big meteors heating the icy planet. Titan, also, may be able to hold life in the future because of heat from the sun.
After learning about Saturn and Titan during Cassini’s 13-year mission in space, NASA scientists disposed of it safely in Saturn’s atmosphere in order to not to disturb the creation of future moons of Saturn.
About the Author:
This article was written by staff writer Makya Rodriguez, who first worked as a student reporter for James C. Wright Free Press. Now, Makya is a freshman at West High School. He is interested in writing about space science. In his free time he enjoys playing ultimate frisbee.