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Cassini's Triumph at Saturn, Part 1
Hugh Bollinger

Cassini's Triumph at Saturn, Part 1

Saturn's rings with Titan in profile (credit: Cassini-Huygens)

Since the first moon landing 55 years ago, one of the most complex space programs ever attempted was the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. The international effort combined the engineering and scientific talents of NASA, the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where the spacecraft was designed, built, and eventually launched in 1997. The six ton probe took 7 years to reach its destination to explore the giant ringed planet and its many moons first observed by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini in 1672.

Part 1 of Cassini's history is presented on how this adventure began and the obstacles that had to be overcome. The success or failure of the space probe could come down to a single marble-sized pebble when Cassini had to dip under the Saturn's rings to enter orbit around planet. To everyone's great luck this maneuver went off flawlessly. WHB


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