Illustration Credit & Copyright: NASA/JPL-Caltech. CLICK illustration for larger view and look below for information and related links to include Cassini image databases.

Unbelievable; October 15, 1997 I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA and in the early stages of my 4 years in the USMC when Cassini lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SLC-40 in the nose of a Titan.
I would be a few months removed from the Marine Corps and back home here in New Hampshire when Cassini finally passed Jupiter on December 30, 2000. I remember looking at flight trajectory maps and thinking back then about the distances between the outer planets and that it takes just over three years (with gravity assists) to reach Jupiter and then, incredibly almost another four to reach the Ringed Planet.

Cassini would end up reaching Saturn and on July 1, 2004 a new satellite would be added to the Saturnian system. An electronic, human made satellite as a gift from the Earth, as a gift TO the Earth that today celebrates its tenth anniversary in orbit.

In the ten years that Cassini has been in orbit I cannot count the number of “WOW’s” that I’ve experienced as it would seem that almost on a daily basis a new mind blowing HD image or video comes through that just stops you in your tracks at least momentarily as you realize what you’re looking at. Cassini is on the photography vacation of a lifetime as its now iconic images are something we can only dream of seeing out of our spaceship window. The body of Saturn, its storms and polar vortexes, its rings and moons and how they interact with one another are all images delivered to us by this amazing machine.

Who can forget the ESA Huygens lander (named for the 17th century astronomer Christiaan Huygens) that touched down on the surface of the Xanadu region of Titan on January 14, 2005? The entire way to the surface this small craft delivered images that were never before dreamed of. All in all, the Cassini/Huygens mission has been and continues to be an amazing success. From images to the ongoing science involved this, in my opinion is a mission that must continue. Unfortunately it’s a mission that, as of now is on the chopping block to make room for new missions. As always, if you feel as strongly about planetary science as I do, join the Planetary Society and write your Congress to (politely) voice your opinion to them.


NASA Cassini 10 Years at Saturn (NASA main Cassini mission page):

JPL Cassini 10 Years at Saturn (JPL main Cassini mission page):

CICLOPS: Cassini official imagery site:

JPL Cassini mission images:

JPL RAW Cassini images:

The Planetary Society “Bruce Murray Space Image Library” Cassini Images (Great Source):

ESA Cassini mission page:

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