Blog Archives

Cassini’s First Dive Between Saturn and Its Rings

After the first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft called home to mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. See highlights from the scene at JPL on April 26-27, 2017, and some of the first raw images the spacecraft sent back from its closest-ever look at Saturn’s atmosphere. For more information about Cassini and its “Grand Finale,” visit .

Approaching Titan a Billion Times Closer

Remember the Titan (Landing): Ten years ago today, Jan. 14, 2005, the Huygens probe touched down on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
This new, narrated movie was created with data collected by Cassini’s imaging cameras and the Huygens Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR). The first minute shows a zoom into images of Titan from Cassini’s cameras, while the remainder of the movie depicts the view from Huygens during the last few hours of its historic descent and landing.
It was October 15, 1997, when NASA’s Cassini orbiter embarked on an epic, seven-year voyage to the Saturnian system. Hitching a ride was ESA’s Huygens probe, destined for Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The final chapter of the interplanetary trek for Huygens began on 25 December 2004 when it deployed from the orbiter for a 21-day solo cruise toward the haze-shrouded moon. Plunging into Titan’s atmosphere, on January 14 2005, the probe survived the hazardous 2 hour 27 minute descent to touch down safely on Titan’s frozen surface. Today, the Cassini spacecraft remains in orbit at Saturn. Its mission will end in 2017, 20 years after its journey began. More information and images from the mission at

Cassini Saturn Arrival-The 10th Anniversary of Cassini

On June 30, 2004 (PDT), as mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory held their collective breath, the international Cassini-Huygens mission successfully arrived in orbit around Saturn. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft delivered the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe to Titan in early 2005. Cassini completed its four-year primary mission in 2008 and went on to perform dozens more flybys of Titan, Enceladus and Saturn’s other icy moons through its 10th anniversary in 2014. The mission may continue through 2017.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Moon Shadows on Saturn

About this video (03-20-07)
Saturn’s wide, but very thin, rings are tilted with respect to its plane of orbit around the Sun. Once every 15 years, the rings are edge-on (perpendicular) to the Sun. During those times, some of Saturn’s moons can cast shadows across the rings.

This time-lapse movie shows the icy moons Enceladus, Mimas, Dione, and Tethys orbiting Saturn. Enceladus, seemingly chased by Mimas, is first to speed past the rings and in front of the planet. Both moons cast small shadows on the planet, but only Enceladus casts a shadow on the rings. The orbit of Mimas is inclined so that its shadow misses the rings. Dione is next, and its long shadow also tracks across the ring system. As the three moons move across Saturn’s disk, the viewer catches a fleeting view of Tethys as it moves behind the planet on the right.

The 30-second movie is created from Hubble images taken over a 9½-hour span. The images were taken Nov. 17, 1995, with Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The movie has a standard aspect ratio, but is presented within a widescreen frame – the black bars along the sides are normal.

E. Karkoschka (Arizona), G. Bacon (STScI)