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FEATURE ARTICLE

Cassini: The First One Thousand Days

The spacecraft's journey in orbit around this ringed world has provided startling discoveries and unprecedented views of Saturn's atmosphere, rings and moons, with more surprises doubtless still to come

Carolyn C. Porco

SaturnClick to Enlarge ImageOn July 1, 2004, after traveling for seven years across interplanetary space, the American-built Cassini spacecraft and its European-built Huygens probe glided flawlessly into orbit around the planet Saturn. Six months later, the Huygens probe drifted on a piece of fabric through the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, capturing panoramic images as it fell, and after two-and-a-half hours came to permanent rest on the dark equatorial plains of Titan. The images that Cassini and Huygens have returned of Saturn and its moons and rings have been an explorer's dream—breathtaking, dazzling and informative—and mission scientists expect even greater things to come. Dr. Porco describes some of the discoveries found in these remarkable new images.


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