Cassini-Huygens Mission Essay

Cassini-Huygens mission / Saturn / Titan / spacecraft / moon

Essay Topic:

The importance of the Cassini Ė Huygens mission for the space-exploration.

Essay Questions:

What was the contribution of Jean-Dominique Cassini to the exploration of the Solar System? How did Christian Huygens discover the rings of Saturn? What was the goal of the Cassini Ė Huygens mission?

Thesis Statement:

No wonder that the name of the mission with a clearly set goal Ėto reach the planet Saturn and to explore it in details in close up, therefore either to confirm or neglect the scientific assumptions about the planet got the name Cassini-Huygens.


Cassini-Huygens Mission Essay

Table of contents:

1. Introduction

2. Cassini-Huygens mission.

1. The primarily objectives of the mission

2. The contemporary condition of the mission

3. Cassini-Huygens spacecraft properties.

4. Point of destination Ė Saturn.

1. Saturnís rings and their peculiarities.

2. The moons of Saturn and its main moon Ė Titan.

5. Conclusion.

Keywords of the essay: paper, essay, sample, example,

1. Introduction

The process of looking at the bottomless sky enchanted peopleís minds and hearts for thousand of years. Modern science has drawn the humanity near the infinity of the universe, making people believe that someday they will know and understand all the unrevealed secrets veiled in space. The magnetism of the stars above made people start thinking on how they could technically perfect their devices in order to observe the heavenly bodies clearly. The necessity of very serious equipment in order to do it professionally was the most accurate approximation to the truth. Scientists have made a lot of discoveries concerning the Solar System, nevertheless there are thousand more to make. One of the most mysterious planets in the Solar system is Saturn. Saturnís rings and their unique physical characteristics along with Saturnís moons and satellites stipulate the great interest to this planet. A Dutch scientist by the name Christian Huygens discovered Saturnís rings and its biggest moon Titan. An Italian scientist Jean-Dominique Cassini discovered the phenomena known as ęCassini DivisionĽ, which defines the dust gap between Saturnís rings. It was also Cassini who discovered four of Saturnís satellites: Dione, Rhean, Tethys and Iapetus. These two men dedicated a lot of time to the analysis and synthesis of the information they got from their observations of Saturn. No wonder that the name of the mission with a clearly set goal Ėto reach the planet Saturn and to explore it in details in close up, therefore either to confirm or neglect the scientific assumptions about the planet got the name Cassini-Huygens.

2. Cassini-Huygens mission

The word combination ďCassini-Huygens missionĒ is hardly not known to any person who is somehow connected to science or al least interest in it. This is primarily due to the significance of this mission and its specifics. Generally speaking, ďCassini-Huygens missionĒ is a joint NASA/ESA/ASI mission created in order to explore the mysterious planet Saturn and its moons, including Titan. Cassini becomes an engineer envoy of humanity on one of the most unexplored planets of the Solar system. The exploration of the Saturnian system is the basic mission-objective that is set ahead of the Cassini-Huygens mission. Basically, what it is going to investigate and is already investigating now is the planet itself, the peculiarities of its atmosphere. Another element that possesses a very high interest from the scientific point of view is Titan, Saturnís moon and all the other moons of the planet. Titan and its exploration occupy a special place in the scientific prediction of the Cassini-Huygens mission.

The Cassini orbiter is to explore Titans orbital tour around Saturn. Every flyby of the moon will be accompanied with the Cassini orbiterís will remote the information about the surface of Titan in order to find out whether it is solid or liquid, about the enviroment of Titan, considered to consist of plasma and of course about its atmosphere. The basic goal of the mission is to obtain more scientific information about the planet and its moons that have been so magnetic for such a long time. The Huygens Probe is to get the data concerning the atmosphere of the planet in details directly from the surface of Saturn while the Cassini Orbiter will provide distant and generalized characteristics of the planets status. The Orbiterís main destination is to produce targeted flybys during which it is going to collect the data it requires and that eventually will to send to Earth. This is expected to proved the unique scientific knowledge that will reveal Saturnís and Titanís secrets and understand some effects that seem not to have clear reasons for the scientists. The information about Titan is considered to be very important by scientists due to Titanís similarity to early Earth. The possibility of a deep analysis of the surface of Titan and its interior is achieved through Huygens Probe, as mentioned before.

2.a. The primary objectives of the mission

Primarily, the Cassini mission is supposed to evaluate the excess and peculiarities of atmospheric elements. As Titan is often compared to early Earth the scientist are extremely interested in the prediction of its development. Special interest is given to the atmosphere of the planet. Another problem that the mission is to solve is find out the source of the elements in the atmosphere, to measure and evaluate the changes in the temperature of the planet. Titanís gases are also the objects of the Cassini-Huygens mission. The surface will be examined in detail and result in making topography maps and identifying the components of its surface. Another goal is the exploration of the magnetosphere of Saturn. Mission Cassini lies was getting to Saturn throughout the whole Solar System and exploring Saturn and Titan. Nowadays half of the mission is completed, as Cassini-Huygens aircraft is already at the place. Generally saying Cassini-Huygens is a ďsmartĒ spacecraft that is supposed to explore Saturn and its surroundings for four years and keep sending the obtained data back to Earth.

Generally speaking Cassini-Huygens is supposed to solve all the mysteries that are concentrated around Saturn and Titan. There is a group of things that provoke mush attention towards them and are considered to be very twofold. These mysteries are supposed to be unsolved through the constant observation of the planet and its moons. Here, there is a list of some of them: the source of the heat found in the ďbowels of SaturnĒ, high -speed winds, the reason of the appearance of the Saturnís rings, solve the problem of questioning whether there are water resources on Titan. Especial attention should be paid to the first problem, because Saturn does not get or absorb that much heat from the sun in order to posses such a heat inside the planet. As the official number of Saturnís moons differs from the reality so the mission is to estimate the quantity of Saturnís moons and cover the moments touching their surface. At last the mission is to find out the truth about the existance of pre-biotic molecules together with complex organic compounds on the planet.

2.b. The contemporary condition of the mission

Cassini was provided with three gravity assist boosts to make the aircraft reach Saturn in the equivalent of 68 040 kilograms of rocket fuel. The last piece of orbital momentum was got form Jupiter and Cassini-Huygens aircraft was ready to go on the 30th of December 2000. The date of missionís arrival on Saturn is July 2004. After the process of separating of Huygens from Cassini it takes the Probe 22 days to get to the surface of Titan. After the arrival the main goal was to let Huygens explore the surface. In order to do it Huygens was parachuted to Titanís surface in January 2005 to take probes. Therefore Huygens is on Titanís surface while Cassini is orbiting around Saturn. Huygens has no direct connection with Earth. It sends data signals to the Orbital Cassini. Cassini in its tern sends the information through its channels to Earth, where the information is interpreted and new requests are presented. Nowadays, Cassini keeps providing priceless data about Saturn and its region in general. The main plan of the mission is to complete 75 orbits of Saturn and perform 44 fly-bys of Titan. This does not include minor Saturnís other icy moons, which are also going to be investigated by Cassini. Nowadays, Cassini is performing the task is has been set perfectly, providing repeated flybys of Titan and Huygens keeps providing countless data about Titanís surface, its structure, elements and about the reasons of seasonable effect on the moon. As the probe is able to resist temperatures exceeding 18 000įC it makes its work very effective because for instance, Saturnís temperature is around 11 700įC and the results obtained from the exploration may viewed as rather exact ones.

2. Spacecraft construction

The executor of the mission is the 5.6 tone spacecraft Cassini consisting of two elements: the Huygens probe and the Cassini orbiter. Cassini-Huygens is the largest interplanetary spacecraft ever built. As it has been mentioned before the mission of the project created by NASA/ESA/ASI is the exploration of Saturn, Titan and the adjoining region, or generally saying Saturnian system. The spacecraft consists of two parts the Huygens Probe and the Cassini Orbital. The Huygens Probe was performed by the ESA. This part of the spacecraft is supposed to land on the surface of Saturnís most unique moon Ė Titan. The spacecraft is constructed to resist the four-year exploration it is supposed to carry out while exploring Titan and orbiting Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft was created solely for making probes from the surface of the needed target and for performing observation of space objects. Its creation was arranged in 1990 and only nowadays Earthís scientist may evaluate the priceless of this project. Aerospatiale carried out the creation of the Huygens Probe. The process occurring with the Probe is the invention of the programming language and it an algorithm. The Probe is ready to enter the surface of a heavenly body only after it separates from its second part - the Cassini Orbital. The Huygens Probe possesses the Entry Assembly, which protects the Descent Module from the outside impacts. It releases the Descent Module only after the Probe enters the required place. It is the Descent Mode that contains the probe experiments. The weight of the Probe is estimated as 318 kilograms. How does the Probe keep connection wit the orbital after the separation? The reason of this strong connection is the 30 kilograms of Probe Support Equipment which being a part of Cassini Orbital received Huygens signals and data. The main components of the Orbiter are: a Receiver Front End, a Receiver Ultra Stable Oscillator and two Probe Support Avionics. The Spin Eject Device and the umbilical connector provide power and data links between the Probe and Orbiter. The Huygens Probe activity is maintained by the Huygens Probe Operations Center in Germany. In its turn, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory controls the Cassini Orbiter mission and all of the operations; the whole process of communication with the orbiter and the interpretation of its data are made through NASAís Deep Space Network.

4. Point of destination Ė Saturn

The sixth planet from the Sun has possessed the attention of earth scientists for a very long time. The first attempts to examine it were made by Voyager in the 80ís. Saturnian year lasts for 29.46 Earth years and Saturnian day is approximately 10 hours 39 minutes. In addition to all its secrets Saturn is the only planet with blue skies, which makes it even more similar to Earth. Saturn has an atmosphere is unique. It consists of the components that are found on the Sunís surface. These are helium and hydrogen. The borderline between the atmosphere and the surface of the planet is ill defined. What can be possible say in order to characterize Saturnís atmosphere properly? It is rather active and is characterized by intensive winds that blow at a very high speed. On of the reasons Saturn is so attractive for the scientists are the arguments about its surface and its state: solid or liquid. The possibility of finding a solid core deep in the bowels of Saturn surface would simply support the supposition of the existance of liquid metallic hydrogen. One of the most distinctive characteristics of Saturn is the presence of the rings Ėstructure. Of course, rings are a normal attribute of the structure of the majority of gas giants; nevertheless Saturnís rings are very special and have a very complicated structure.

4.a. Saturnís rings and their peculiarities

The rings of Saturn have been the targets of Saturnís exploration not without a significant reason. The famous Cassini division, mentioned earlier is found between the first two rings and mainly consists of dust. Among all the gas giants only Saturn presents its rings in 7 different ďlevelsĒ or groupings. Schematically they are marked with the help of the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. This indications help greatly while examining and the differentiating the rings. The location of the rings varies from 75 000 to 483 000 km out of the center of the planet. What makes the rings so popular among the scientists? Talking about their specifics it is necessary to mention that the rings being so big in diameter are in fact very thin and have subtle colors. Saturn's rings consist mainly from ice and their thickness is measured starting from microns to meters in size.

The structure of the rings is often related to gravitational perturbations by the numerous moons of the planet but nevertheless there is still so much to be explained in order to understand Saturn better. The creation of the Cassini-Huygens mission is the potential solution of the rest of the unknown facts about Saturnís rings.

4.b. The moons of Saturn and its main moon - Titan

No matter how strange it sounds, but Saturn has 31 moons. Their distance from Saturnís center varies from 133 583 kilometers (Pan, a moon with the diameter of 20 km) to 12 952 000 kilometers (Phoebe, a moon with the diameter of 220 km). Some of the moons are small and some of them are big. All of them posses different names: Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus, Janus, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Telesto, Calypso, Dione and many more. Nevertheless, Saturnís main moon is Titan. It is not just the main moon of Saturn but also its largest moon. It is necessary to add that an evaluation of Titanís sizes in terms of our Solar System lead to the conclusion that Titan is the second largest moon in the Solar System. To be concrete it is the largest moon after Jupiterís Ganymede. It was Christian Huygens who discovered Titan, as it was mentioned before. Titanís distance from Saturn is 1 221 870 kilometers but its rotation is synchronous to Saturn. Titanís mass is 1.345 x 1023 kilograms or 1/45 of the Earthís mass. The temperature of Titan is -180 degrees C. Its atmosphere mainly consists of the next elements: nitrogen, methane, traces of ammonia, argon and ethane. One Titanic day lasts approximately 15.95 Earth days. Scientists have discovered a feature on the surface of Titan with the size compared to a continent and gave it a strange name of Xanadu. This feature attracts the attention of the scientists and Cassini-Huygens mission is to solve the mysteries covering it. Scientists consider that it would be better for Huygens to land on an ocean and not on land. This opinion is right in the first place because in this case Huygens will remain in the proper upright position, which will make the data even more correct.

5. Conclusion

In September 2005 Cassini is expected to study Hyperion, a tiny moon, at a range of 1,010 kilometers (628 miles). Nobody has examined Hyperion form such a position before. It will still be the continuation of Cassiniís primary mission with later exploration of Saturnís moons Dione and Rhea.

It is very hard to underestimate Cassiniís mission impact into the development of technology and the growth of knowledge humanity possess about Saturn. This is the ďterritory of mysteriesĒ for human scientists and therefore they need to be revealed and unveiled. Saturnís numerous moons and magnificent rings have still so much to tell and to share along with Titan whose mystery is waiting until is open by the Cassini-Huygens missions, which will continue approving and neglecting numerous of scientific ďassumptionsĒ.


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