Cassini: Journey To Saturn

Image and text courtesy of NASA
The Cassini Mural

In this dramatic Cassini mural, the mythological Roman god Saturn is represented as the symbol of Time drawing back a veil to allow the Cassini spacecraft to reveal the mysteries of the vast Saturnian system. In the earliest 7th Century BC mythology, this god was first called Kronos, who attacked his father Uranus with a sickle to become king of the universe. He was later overthrown by Zeus, who ruled from Mount Olympus. Since the earliest times, the Romans worshipped Saturn as their god of agriculture. Later, when the Romans accepted the Greek pantheon, Saturn was identified with Kronos. Eventually, Saturn became associated with time, and was often depicted with wings and a scythe.

The mural also shows the Cassini spacecraft firing its main engine to brake into orbit about the planet Saturn on 1 July 2004. Beneath the spacecraft lies the vast sheet of orbiting icebergs and particles that make up the magnificent rings of Saturn. Nearly transparent images of the spacecraft and the Huygens Titan probe are also painted on the mural to represent key moments in the mission several months after the spacecraft has entered Saturn orbit.

The Cassini mural embodies a cultural blend of art and science made possible by a joint undertaking between Cassini personnel and the Academia de Arte Yepes in Los Angeles. Eight young Hispanic master painters (Abel Gonzales, Daniel Gonzales, Octavio Gonzales, Francisco Vasquez, Gabriel Estrada, Juan Solis, Rebeca Robles and lead artist Ulysses Garcia) were guided during the mural creation by Charles Kohlhase of the Cassini Project. (P-46278)

Image and text courtesy of NASA
The Cassini Mission This graphic depicts the planned interplanetary flight path beginning with launch from Earth on 6 October 1997, followed by gravity assist flybys of Venus (21 April 1998 and 20 June 1999), Earth (16 August 1999), and Jupiter (30 December 2000). Saturn arrival is scheduled for 1 July 2004, which marks the beginning of a four year orbital tour of the Saturn system. The gravity-assist flybys of the different planets are designed to increase the spacecraft's velocity relative to the Sun so it can reach Saturn. During these planetary flybys, there is an exchange of energy between the planet and the spacecraft which accelerates the latter and changes its velocity direction relative to the Sun. With the use of the VVEJGA (Venus-Venus-Earth-Jupiter Gravity Assist) trajectory, it takes 6.7 years for the Cassini spacecraft to arrive at Saturn. The spacecraft must be designed to withstand the thermal environment both inside the orbit of Venus (130 0C) and at Saturn (-210 0C). (JPL-27089BC)

In October, 1997, the combined NASA - European Space Agency (ESA) dual purpose mission to Saturn launched. The Cassini Orbiter's mission consists of delivering a probe (called Huygens, provided by ESA) to Titan, and then remaining in orbit around Saturn for detailed studies of the planet and its rings and satellites. The Huygens Probe mission is an atmospheric probe designed to make in situ observations of the Saturnian satellite Titan.

The international organization of the Cassini Program involves scientists from 12 European nations, including the Italian Space Agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) and European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, both members of the ESA. Here in the United States, JPL is an great source of information for Cassini: Journey to Saturn.

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