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Apr 23, 2009

More than a decade into its mission, the Cassini spacecraft continues to redefine our ideas about outer space.

By FLYP Staff

Like the Energizer bunny, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft keeps on going and going.
By providing pictures of Saturn as many as 100 times more detailed than anything seen before, Cassini is allowing scientists to rethink old conceptions about the universe.
Among the discoveries, flybys of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, revealed ice geysers erupting from the south pole. That makes the moon one of the few bodies in the solar system known to contain liquid water. Cassini also revealed that Titan, another of Saturn’s moons, has lakes of liquid hydrocarbons, which were previously known to exist only on Earth.
Cassinis-Huygens is a joint mission among NASA, the European Space Agency (EAS), and the Italian Space Agency. The spacecraft itself consists of two components: NASA’s Cassini orbiter and the EAS’s Huygens probe. The craft was launched on October 15, 1997 and entered orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. The Huygens probe separated from the orbiter on December 25, 2004, and three weeks later reached Titan.
Cassini is currently scheduled to fly through September of 2010.


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