The international Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997 and had a marathon 7-year 2-billion mile journey to the distant planet Saturn. The 23-foot tall, 14-foot wide, 6-ton spacecraft is the largest most sophisticated outer planet spacecraft ever built, and is in its third year of operation in orbit around the planet Saturn. Cassini-Huygens has been returning extraordinary data about the entire Saturn system: the spectacular rings; the numerous icy satellites with a variety of unique surface features; the giant planet itself; a huge magneto-sphere teeming with particles that interact with the rings and moons; and the intriguing moon Titan, which is slightly larger than the planet Mercury, and whose hazy atmosphere is denser than that of Earth. This talk will be an overview of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn with a summary of the top science returns of its first three years in orbit.
The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, run out of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota, hosts Trina Ray of NASA JPL on January 22, 2008.