The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft was built in collaboration with sixteen European countries and was launched in 1997 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40. Designed to study the heliosphere, Jupiter, and other scientific phenomena, the Cassini spacecraft is perhaps best known for its jaw-dropping images of Saturn and its moons Rhea, Enceladus, and Titan.
1. Saturn’s north pole
This hexagonal jet stream has long since puzzled scientists, and recent data courtesy of Cassini reveal an even more complex and intricate system characterized by an array of colorful hues, multi-layered clouds, and wavelike behavior along the outer edges of the jet stream. Click here to see a video of the jet stream in action.
Besides the stunning beauty of its fissures, cracks and craters, Enceladus‘ most intriguing mystery is what lies beneath its icy surface. In November 2005, Cassini’s infrared mapping spectrometer revealed a warmer than expected interior, evidence of spouting geysers not unlike those found in Yellowstone, and geological activity on the moon’s southern pole.
3. Titan’s surface
With the Curiosity rover garnering most of the attention, few know that the Huygens probe landed on the surface of Titan with an on-board laboratory in 2005. The Huygens probe has also been taking some amazing pictures of the rocky moon whose nitrogen rich atmosphere and giant lakes of methane and ethane may harbor basic life.
Heavily cratered with a unique set of fissures, Rhea is Saturn’s second largest moon. Cassini took this image in March, 2013 and is measuring the rate at which meteors bombard this small-sized moon.
Image credits: NASA and Space.com