Explored the Saturn system for the first time

Cassini launched in October 1997, and arrived at the Saturn System in 2004. Cassini had 12 instruments that returned a daily stream of data from Saturn’s system, unlocking the many mysteries of the planet and its moons, including the important targets Titan and Enceladus. This mission concluded on September 15, 2017, when the Cassini orbiter was intentionally de-orbited into Saturn’s atmosphere. Towards the end of the mission, during its “Grand Finale” set of 22 orbits, Cassini made a remarkable series of dives between the planet and its rings. Since Cassini arrived at Saturn just after the planet’s northern winter solstice, the final extension permitted the first study of a complete seasonal period.

Mission Class:

Larger Missions

Mission Status:


LASP Roles:

Research, Instruments, Mission Operations

Science Target:


Mission Focus:

Planetary Atmosphere, Planetary Dust, Planetary Interior

Launch Date: October 15, 1997
Saturn Orbit Insertion: July 1, 2004
End of Mission: September 15, 2017
Mission Duration: 7 year journey to Saturn, 10 years+ in Saturn System

Lead Institution: NASA

Partners: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research