Science Buzz Cafe # 469 Saturn & Titan: The Cassini-Huygens Mission
Dr. Phil Harriman will describe the astounding 20 year (1997-2017) trip taken by the NASA/European space probe to the planet Saturn. The probe produced spectacular pictures of a moon landing, possible sites for life in the Saturn system and Saturn’s rings and satellites.
The mission was a joint endeavor of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency. Cassini launched in 1997 along with ESA’s Huygens probe. The spacecraft contributed to studies of Jupiter for six months in 2000 before reaching its destination in 2004 (Saturn) and starting a string of flybys of Saturn’s moons. It released the Huygens probe on Saturn’s moon Titan to conduct a study of the its atmosphere and surface composition. In its second extended mission, Cassini made the first observations of a complete seasonal period for Saturn and its moons, flew between the rings and descended into the planet’s atmosphere.
Phil was Program Director for Genetics at the US National Science Foundation for 24 years until he retired to Sonoma County. Dr. Harriman has a BS in Physics from Caltech and a PhD in Biophysics from UC Berkeley. He spent a postdoctoral year at the Radium Institute in Paris founded by Marie Curie, now
a museum dedicated to her work.
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