Cassini-Huygens: A journey to Saturn and its moons
The Cassini-Huygens mission

Cassini-Huygens – the end of an epic, extraordinary mission

One of the most exciting missions to explore the Solar System began on 15 October 1997, when an almost seven-metre Titan 4B launcher took off from Cape Canaveral and disappeared into the night skies above Florida, carrying a payload weighing just under five and a half tons. Shortly after, a Centaur upper stage accelerated the spacecraft out of Earth's orbit, sending it on its journey to Saturn, the second-largest planet in the Solar System. Its striking rings and numerous glacial moons make it almost a miniature solar system in its own right.

The successful NASA/ESA mission will come to an end after 20 years on 15 September 2017. Among the principal components of the mission was the Huygens lander by the European Space Agency ESA, which piggybacked on Cassini until its arrival at Saturn, before separating and landing on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, in January 2005.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has, and continues to be involved in the Cassini-Huygens mission both scientifically and technically. The DLR Space Administration has been funding the venture on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Our small series of articles will look back on the mission, its experiments, the scientific concept, its most important findings and the contributions made by DLR and other scientific institutes in Germany.

NASA´s preview from 4 April 2017 of the 'Grande Finale' of Cassini Saturn Mission: