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The Cassini Mission is a major NASA mission which will perform a detailled study of Saturn, the rings, the magnetosphere, the Icy satellites and Titan. The Cassini mission will carry out a multi-faceted survey of the Saturnian system in 2004-2008. The payload includes 2 infrared spectrometers: VIMS (0.35-5.1 um) and CIRS (5-1000 um). Because Cassini observations will be focused on specific time intervals, spatial regions, and wavelength intervals, ground-based support is needed to determine brightness levels for planning purposes, provide global context and temporal coverage.

Mission Timeline

  • Oct 15, 1997 - Launch
  • Apr 26, 1998 - Venus 1 Swingby
  • Jun 24, 1999 - Venus 2 Swingby
  • Aug 18, 1999 - Earth Swingby
  • Dec 30, 2000 - Jupiter flyby
  • Jul 01, 2004 - Saturn arrival
  • Jul 2008 - Saturn tour ends

IRTF Mission Support

  • Saturn: mid-IR spectroscopy, temporal coverage, global context
  • Titan: wind observations, spectroscopy with the Goddard infrared heterodyne spectrometer, also temporal coverage with IR spectroscopy
  • Icy Satellites: Absolute reflectance at 1-5 microns to plan the VIMS observations and integration times during the brief flybys
  • Rings: 1-5 micron spatially resolved spectra to identify interesting spectral regions or spatial regions for VIMS to focus on. Mid-IR imaging to determine thermal intertia (how rapidly ring particles warm after eclipse).

Last Updated on December 16, 1999

This page has been visited times since October 1999.
Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii