Cassini is  fast approaching the final phase of its mission to explore Saturn and its complex system of rings and moons - the Grand Finale.

Countdown to End of Mission
Mission Elapsed Time

Cassini Orbiter

  • Dimensions: 22 feet (6.7 meters) high; 13.1 feet (4 meters) wide
  • Weight: 12,593 pounds (5,712 kg) with fuel, Huygens probe, adapter, etc; 4,685 pounds (2,125 kg) unfueled orbiter alone
  • Orbiter science instruments: composite infrared spectrometer, imaging system, ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, imaging radar, radio science, plasma spectrometer, cosmic dust analyzer, ion and neutral mass spectrometer, magnetometer, magnetospheric imaging instrument, radio and plasma wave science
  • Power: 885 watts (633 watts at end of mission) from radioisotope thermoelectric generators

Huygens Probe

  • Dimensions: 8.9 feet (2.7 meters) in diameter
  • Weight: 705 pounds (320 kg)
  • Probe science instruments: aerosol collector pyrolyser, descent imager and spectral radiometer, Doppler wind experiment, gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer, atmospheric structure instrument, surface science package
  • Huygens Probe Titan Release: Dec. 24, 2004
  • Huygens Probe Titan Descent: Jan. 14, 2005
  • Huygens' Entry Speed into Titan's Atmosphere: about 12,400 mph (20,000 kph)

Mission

  • Launch vehicle: Titan IVB/ Centaur
  • Weight: 2.2 million pounds (1 million kg)
  • Launch: Oct. 15, 1997, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
  • Earth-Saturn distance at arrival: 934 million miles (1.5 billion km) (10 times Earth to Sun distance)
  • Distance traveled to reach Saturn: 2.2 billion miles (3.5 billion km)
  • Saturn's average distance from Earth: 890 million miles (1.43 billion km)
  • One-way Speed-of-Light Time from Saturn to Earth at Cassini Arrival: 84 minutes
  • One-way Speed-of-Light Time from Saturn to Earth During Orbital Tour: 67 to 85 minutes
  • Venus Fybys: April 26, 1998 at 176 miles (234 km); June 24, 1999 at 370 miles (600 km)
  • Earth Flyby: Aug. 18, 1999 at 727 miles (1,171 km)
  • Jupiter flyby: Dec. 30, 2000 at 6 million miles (10 million km)
  • Saturn Arrival Date: July 1, 2004, UTC (June 30, 2004 PDT)
  • Primary Mission: 4 years
  • Two Extended Missions: Equinox (2008-2010) and Solstice (2010-2017)

Program

  • Partners: NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Italian space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI); total of 17 countries involved
  • U.S. states in which Cassini work was carried out: 33
  • Number of people who worked on some portion of Cassini-Huygens: More than 5,000
  • Cost of mission: $1.422 billion pre-launch development; $710 million mission operations; $54 million tracking; $422 million launch vehicle; $500 million ESA; $160 million ASI; total about $3.27 billion, of which U.S. contribution is $2.6 billion and European partners' contribution $660 million

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