The Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn for 13 years, sending back data that revolutionized our understanding of Saturn, its rings and moons. Cassini’s findings have fundamentally altered many of our ideas of where life might be found in our solar system and beyond. Cassini Project Scientist, Linda Spilker, will present highlights of the Cassini mission’s most exciting discoveries.
The robotic spacecraft arrived in 2004 after a 7-year flight from Earth, dropped a parachuted probe named Huygens to study the atmosphere and surface of Saturn’s big moon Titan, and commenced making astonishing discoveries as Cassini orbited Saturn until the mission ended with a fiery plunge into the planet’s atmosphere on 15 September 2017. Key discoveries include icy jets shooting from the tiny moon Enceladus from a liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust, and lakes of liquid hydrocarbons and methane rain on Saturn’s giant moon Titan.