CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY

ANDREW B. HALES

A

CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY
ANDREW B. HALES

Table of Contents
Table of Contents.......................................................................................................................................1 1. Introduction............................................................................................................................................2 2. Origin of the Cassini Mission................................................................................................................2 3. Selection Process....................................................................................................................................2 4. Goal and Objectives...............................................................................................................................5 4.1. Observation of Titan......................................................................................................................5 4.2. Observation of the Magnetosphere ...............................................................................................6 4.3. Observation of Icy Satellites .........................................................................................................6 4.4. Observation of Saturn’s Ring System............................................................................................6 4.5. Observation of Saturn ...................................................................................................................6 5. The Cassini and Huygens Spacecraft.....................................................................................................7 5.1. Cassini Spacecraft Layout..............................................................................................................7 5.2. Cassini Electrical Power................................................................................................................7 5.3. Maintenance and Control...............................................................................................................9 5.3. Communications and Data Recording...........................................................................................9 5.4. Huygens Spacecraft Layout...........................................................................................................9 6. Launch..................................................................................................................................................10 6.1 Launch Vehicle.............................................................................................................................10 6.2 Launch Sequence..........................................................................................................................10 7. Planetary Swingbys .............................................................................................................................12 8. Arrival at Saturn...................................................................................................................................13 8.1. Saturn Orbit Insertion...................................................................................................................13 8.2. Huygens Probe Insertion .............................................................................................................14 9. Orbital Tour of the Saturnian System..................................................................................................16 9.1 Decommissioning Cassini ............................................................................................................16 References................................................................................................................................................17

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The largest moon orbiting Saturn is Titan. Figure 1. Huygens batteries and two of pieces of scientific equipment came from the U. Origin of the Cassini Mission The mission and Orbiter spacecraft is named after the French/Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini. The Cassini Program is a cooperative international partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). which is the second largest in the galaxy and is significantly larger than the planet Mercury.S. The scientific instruments would be accommodated by a ram platform. The planet is so massive it has sixty-one moons as well as hundreds of moonlets circling the planet within the rings. a turntable. Figure 1 shows a detailed sketch for this initial design. The Spacecraft will make in situ and remote observations under geometric and temporal conditions not available from Earth. NASA’s Deep Space Network is used for communications with Cassini during the mission. This was also where the Orbiter was developed and manufactured. moons and magnetic environment. The European Space Agency (ESA) and The Italian Space Agency (ASI). its rings. Spain and Australia. The mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. 2. Selection Process The main goal when designing the Cassini and Huygens spacecraft was to optimise their ability for making various types of observation. Introduction The planet Saturn is the second largest in the solar system and has been noted by virtually every civilisation in ancient history. Stations are located in California. Some of the moons orbiting Saturn can be considered “icy satellites” due to their high percentage composition of water. Data from the Huygens probe will be sent to a communications complex in Darmstadt. Saturn has the most extensive system of rings compared to any other planet in the solar system. The main Orbiter is 3-axis stabilized. The moon Titan will be of special interest because of the atmospheric and surface characteristics it possibly shared with early planet Earth. Germany. 3. The atmospheric Huygens Probe that will explore Titan is named after Dutch Astronomer Christiaan Huygens. HALES A 1. Development of the Huygens Titan Probe was carried out by the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC). who discovered the moon in 1655.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. California. He discovered several of the Saturnian satellites and ring features between years 1671-1685. Communications between the Orbiter and Huygens is provided by a steerable antenna. Initial Design for the Cassini Orbiter and Huygens Probe. The Cassini Mission will perform close-up studies of Saturn. 1 . ASI is contributing the orbiter’s dished high-gain antenna and significant pieces of three science instruments. an optical calibration target and a scan platform. this allows remote sensing of Huygens descent into Titan’s atmosphere. Titan is the only moon in the galaxy to posses a dense veiling atmosphere. The prominent system of rings mostly consists of icy particles with small amounts of rock debris and dust.

Objective and Coordinator. The results of the selection and who coordinates which instrument can be seen in Table I and Table II. As a result engineering complexity was traded for a greater operational complexity.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. At the same time some of the scientific objectives were given up such as asteroid fly-by. The selection of instrument usage and team coordination was discussed and finalised between NASA and ESA. HALES A The designs of the initial Orbiter and Probe were scrapped in the early development phase because of control of development and operational costs. TABLE I Cassini Orbiter Instrument. Jupiter fly-by and cruising science. 1 .

The input of various scientists from different areas of the world has led to new technological developments and inventions. Cassini offers a wider range of talented engineers and scientists to apply their knowledge to the challenging mission.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. Bringing so many people together has had a great indirect cultural benefit to the mission. HALES A TABLE II Huygens Probe Instrument. Objective and Coordinator. all aiming for one clear goal and objective. 1 .

1989).CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. study formation and composition of aerosols. the rings. allowing comparison of results. • Determine the physical state.’ (ESA. topography and the composition of the surface. Voyager 1 and 2. model the photochemistry of the stratosphere. its ionization. 4. infer the internal structure of the satellite. To strive for this synergistic effect. • Observe vertical and horizontal distributions of trace gases. several additional constraints apply with respect to the synergistic gathering of data. some of the required observations were prioritised. • Measure winds and global temperatures. • Investigate the upper atmosphere. A clearer more in depth study of Titan in particular was needed. Goal and Objectives The primary goal of Cassini/Huygens is “to conduct an in-depth exploration of the Saturnian System” (NASA. This allows interactions between different systems to by observed and understood. no significance should be taken from the order of their appearance. These interactions are very complicated. icy satellites and the magnetosphere. The objectives from the following lists are taken from the NASA/ESA mission brief. investigate energy sources for atmospheric chemistry. • In this respect the Probe data will provide a reference set of data which will be used to ‘calibrate’ the Orbiter observations. and Pioneer II each flew through the Saturnian system and gave very brief but eye opening observations. for studying spatial and seasonal variations of the atmosphere composition and dynamics. Although many other spacecraft have explored the Saturnian system before Cassini. The Probe data will be used. Certain objectives for the different parts of the Saturnian system was established by NASA and ESA. search for more complex organic molecules. Titan. investigate cloud physics. HALES A 4. establish isotope ratios for abundant elements. there are some specific objectives that have been identified. search for lightning discharges. 1989) 1 . While the formal set of scientific objectives is the same for both Probe and Orbiter. it will perform a set of atmosphere and surface remote sensing observations which will include re-observations of the atmosphere and surface along the flight path of the Probe. Observation of Titan Titan is the major focus of the mission. and its role as a source of neutral and ionized material for the magnetosphere of Saturn. the interactions are addressed. its moons. this has a huge impact on electrical power usage. The specialised equipment and mission duration allows the orbiter and probe to make the same observations at different periods of time. as it was revealed as a new and unique object. The scientific objectives are to: • Determine abundances of atmospheric constituents (including any noble gases.1. a greater understanding of the system. This requirement as well as the need for a diverse collection of equipment able to operate in the Saturnian system is the reason why the Cassini/Huygens spacecraft is one of the largest to data. Many of the spacecraft instruments need to operate simultaneously. together with the Orbiter data. its ring and its atmosphere was needed. • ‘Each time the Orbiter will fly by Titan. constrain scenarios of formation and evolution of Titan and its atmosphere. Cassini/Huygens is designed to determine the present state of Saturn. It will be studied by both the Huygens Probe and the Cassini Orbiter. thanks to the complexity of the instrument sets. general circulation and seasonal effects in Titan’s atmosphere. ‘In the design of the Huygens measurements and Orbiter observations it is highly desirable that the value of the whole set of data be maximized’.

• Determine current systems.3. and electromagnetic) responsible for ring structure. 1989) 4. • Infer the internal structure and rotation of the deep atmosphere. (ESA. including imbedded satellites. both external and internal. ionosphere. • Investigate interactions of Titan’s atmosphere and exosphere with the surrounding Plasma. Observation of Icy Satellites Specific Cassini objectives for icy satellite science are to: • Determine the general characteristics and geological histories of the satellites.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. 1989) 4.4. viscous. composition.5. • Define the mechanisms of crustal and surface modifications. Observation of Saturn’s Ring System Specific Cassini objectives for the ring science are to: • Study configuration of the rings and dynamical processes (gravitational. and atmosphere. • Determine dust and meteoroid distribution in the vicinity of the rings. cloud properties. the satellites and the rings. Observation of Saturn Cassini objectives for Saturn are to: • Determine temperature field. (NASA. • Constrain models of the satellites’ bulk compositions and internal structures. • Investigate the compositions and distributions of surface materials. • Investigate wave-particle interactions and dynamics of the dayside magnetosphere and the magnetotail of Saturn and their interactions with the solar wind. particularly dark.2. and sinks of magnetosphere charged particles. 1989) 4. • Measure the global wind field. • Investigate interactions with the magnetosphere and ring systems and possible gas injections into the magnetosphere. and composition of the atmosphere of Saturn. erosional. sources. organic rich materials and low melting point condensed volatiles. • Study interactions between the rings and Saturn’s magnetosphere. Observation of the Magnetosphere Specific Cassini objectives for magnetospheric and plasma science is to: • Determine the configuration of the nearly axially symmetric magnetic field and its relation to the modulation of Saturn Kilometric Radiation (SKR). HALES A 4. • Map composition and size distribution of ring material. observe synoptic cloud features and processes. • Investigate interrelation of rings and satellites. including wave and eddy components. • Study the effect of Titan’s interaction with the solar wind and magnetospheric plasma. 1 . (NASA.

lightning whistlers). three-meters in diameter. The orbiter’s equipment is mounted on one of two fixed platforms. heat flux. The Cassini and Huygens Spacecraft 5. The generation of heat 1 .2. Centred at the top of the antenna is a smaller low gain antenna (LGA). There are eighteen specially designed instruments involved in the Cassini/Huygens mission. • Investigate the sources and the morphology of Saturn lightning (Saturn Electrostatic Discharges (SED).) on scenarios for the formation and the evolution of Saturn. Cassini Electrical Power Electrical power to the scientific instruments and to the spacecraft is provided by three Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG). These different stacks are arranged vertically upward on top of one another. (NASA/ESA. These are called the remote-sensing pallet and the particles-and-field pallet.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. 1989) 5. Cassini Spacecraft Layout Before separation the Cassini spacecraft and Huygens probe are as one. Figure 2. This isotope is non weapons grade. Working up from this section are other parts. Each piece of equipment is attached to the corresponding body platform. 5.1. isotope ratios. Another LGA is attached at the bottom of the bottom of the orbiter. so is completely safe. Several sections make up the spacecraft. The completed design for the Cassini spacecraft is shown in figure 2. these are the propellant tanks and engines. Approximately half way up the spacecraft is the Huygens probe. Completed design and configuration for Cassini/Huygens spacecraft. The probe is a disk-shaped spacecraft. twelve-bay electronics compartment and the high-gain antenna (HGA). These provide power through the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238. Above the platforms is a large four-meter diameter high gain antenna. upper equipment module. • Provide observational constraints (gas composition. etc. The bottom of the stack consists of the lower equipment module. Twelve of these instruments are attached to the Cassini orbiter and six on the Huygens probe. HALES A • Study the diurnal variations and magnetic control of the ionosphere of Saturn.

compact and reliable due to no moving parts. making it difficult to turn the orbiter in time to make observations. as the distance away from the Sun is twice of that at Jupiter. Uranus and Neptune. Saturn. RTGs are also currently being used in the Voyager mission. the spacecraft would be too massive t launch. launch systems and travel time to Saturn. The primary choice of electrical power in other NASA missions is solar power. A drawing of a RTG used on the Cassini orbiter is shown in figure 3. Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators have previously been used for electrical power in some of the space programs greatest successes. allowing the spacecraft to explore Jupiter. This distance is about the same distance as Jupiter's orbit. Solar cells have been developed and tested successfully to function 500 million miles away from the Sun. as well as the Pioneer and Galileo mission. Sizes of Theoretical Arrays. These include the Apollo lunar landings and the Viking landers on mars. Figure 4 depicts the theoretical size of arrays needed for the Cassini probe.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. The international Ulysses mission studying the sun’s polar region has been made possible thanks to RTG powered spacecraft. NASA continues to use this power when such technology is applicable. to make the mission possible. The attachment of two massive solar arrays would impact the design. Solar arrays will require mechanical systems 1 . Figure 4. Solar power is not feasible for the Cassini mission as the solar arrays. These cells would be less efficient at Saturn. . Figure 3. three RTGs were needed on-board the spacecraft for the Cassini spacecraft to accomplish its mission objectives. mass and operation of the spacecraft. Because of Cassini’s scientific objectives. in order to meet Cassini's electrical power requirement would have to be so large. HALES A through decay is changed into electricity by solid-state thermo-electric converters. The arrays would have a negative affect on the manoeuvrability of the spacecraft. The benefit of using RTGs is that they are lightweight. Cut-away drawing of an RTG.

5N can change the attitude of the aircraft. Once the probe's parachute is deployed.4m/s. The Cassini spacecraft is stabilized in three axes. as well as carrying out radio and radar experiments. RTGs are the only feasible power system for the Cassini/Huygens mission. Large arrays greatly increase the overall weight of the spacecraft. The high gain antenna is also used for communications between itself and Huygens.8 Gigabits. which releases a strong spring loaded mechanism that propels the probe away from the orbiter and imparts a spin about its axis. 5. The probe ways 305kg and the PSE weighs 35kg. each with a capacity of 1. The spacecraft is equipped with two of these. Mechanical failure due to the complexity of moving parts would render the mission a failure. reflective coatings are painted on some areas of the orbiter and probe to reflect sunlight. The primary data storage device used on the orbiter is called the Solid State Recorder (SSR). HALES A to extend themselves after launch. The Cassini and Huygens protect equipment through several means. Insulation and blankets are wrapped around or cover equipment. 5. Maintenance and Control Some of scientific instruments and parts of the spacecraft are sensitive to high temperatures or low temperatures and need to be maintained. Huygens Spacecraft Layout The Huygens probe system consists of the probe itself as well as the Probe Support Equipment (PSE) which is attached to the orbiter. There are six specially designed instruments within the Huygens probe. The whole spacecraft must be turned and rotated in order to point the instruments. the protective shell is released allowing Huygens to safely land on the surface of Titan. The PSE includes a spin eject device. shade is provided by other parts of the spacecraft. Figure 5 shows how the different instruments are arranged and packaged inside the probe. The rotation of the probe is approximately 5rpm and separates at a relative velocity of 0. The SSR will store spacecraft telemetry and attitude articulation and control (AACS).3. command and data subsystem (CDS) and instrument memory-loads in separate partitions. These communications use the orbiters high gain antenna.3. It consists of the descent module that has an enclosed thermal protection shell. Attitude changes will need to be carried out frequently. The Huygens probe is a conical shaped capsule which has a high drag coefficient. 1 . Communications and Data Recording Two way communications between Cassini and Earth is carried out through the Deep Space Network (DSN) via an X-band radio link.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. 5. or one of the low gain antenna. requiring greater thrust in order to launch orbiter and probe into orbit.4. Thrusters with a force of 0. This protects the probe from heat generation from atmospheric entry. so that the instruments on the body-fixed platforms can be pointed at their desired target. heat produced by the normal operation of some devices help keep areas of the spacecraft warm and small radio-isotope heaters are installed to keep some instruments warm.

Figure 6. Launch 6. HALES A Figure 5. whereas the Titan uses liquid-fuel. Sketch showing Titan IVB/SRMU-Centaur Configuration. This rocket system had two multiple start engines. or the Cassini/Huygens spacecraft. Above the propulsive system sits the Cassini/Huygens spacecraft which is protected by a 20 meter long payload fairing. 6. The Titan vehicle has two main stages. Protection is required through the lower atmosphere due to the risk of temperature damage.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. Layout of Huygens' Instruments. The propulsive system involved is shown in figure 6. SMRUs are basically strap on rockets to provide extra propulsion required for launch info orbit.1 Launch Vehicle The launch vehicle was a Titan IVB with two Solid Rocket Motor Upgrades (SMRU) attached at the lower stage. On the top of the propulsion stack was a Centaur rocket. They burn solid fuel.2 Launch Sequence 1 . high energy and cryogenic liquid fuelled. The second stage is the Centaur rocket. The SMR|Us are anchored to the first lower stage. 6. The performance of the combined Titan IVB/SRMU-Centaur system is capable of launching a payload of weight 5760kg into orbit. which is a versatile. above this on the uppermost stage is the payload.

CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. the first stage of Titan was ignited. The Centaur then fired and boosted the remaining rocket and spacecraft into a parking orbit and switched off its engines. Rotation occurred until the required azimuth (The horizontal angular distance from a reference direction. It burnt for a further 8 minutes before the Centaur was separated from the Cassini spacecraft. Venus again. HALES A Lift off took place at night from Cape Canaveral. 10 seconds after the ignition of SMRU the stack continued to accelerate and tilt and rotate. The altitude was 192000 feet approximately. the two SMRUs were jettisoned because they were spent. Cassini/Huygens was now in an interplanetary trajectory. Five and a half minutes into the flight and 549000 feet was reached and the first stage of Titan separated and the second stage fired. usually the northern point of the horizon. The whole stack was lifted off the pad with the thrust produced. 1 . the spacecraft was now heading for swingbys of Venus. Sixteen minutes after the turn off the rockets were re-ignited for a second time. At launch plus 9 minutes. The launch sequence began with the ignition of the two SMRUs. Two minutes into the launch. Figure 7 shows the launch sequence events. The whole system reached an altitude of 360000 feet in a further one and a half minutes and the payload fairing was released. Earth and Jupiter. to the point where a vertical circle through a celestial body intersects the horizon) was reached. before reaching and orbiting Saturn. A few second after the ignition of Titan. The whole launch was executed perfectly. stage two had fully burnt out and was dropped away.

CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. Planetary Swingbys The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft did not immediately head for the outer solar system. The two Venus swing bys would be followed by an Earth gravity assist plus one flyby at Jupiter before the spacecraft had enough energy to climb out of the Sun's gravitational pull and reach Saturn. Not enough thrust could be provided from the Titan-Centaur rocket to propel the spacecraft straight to Saturn. Table III shows the planetary swingbys as well as the observations made along the way to Saturn. Additional gravitational assistance was needed from Venus in the form of two swingby orbits. TABLE III Venus and Earth flybys 1 . Launch Sequence to place Cassini/Huygens into Earth Orbit. HALES A Figure 7. 7.

as well as the operational capabilities before the important observations took place. This was a big opportunity to test all the instruments and get to grips with the control and manoeuvrability of the spacecraft. Cassini/Huygens Trajectory to Saturn. Saturn Orbit Insertion 1 . Figure 8 shows a diagrammatic course trajectory of the Cassini spacecraft to Saturn. Figure 9. HALES A The flybys provided Cassini the chance to perform coordinated scientific observations before it reached Saturn.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B.1. 8. Arrival at Saturn 8.

1 . On Christmas day 2004. The Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) burn begins at the spacecrafts closest approach to Saturn. The Cassini Orbiter turns to aim the probe at Titan. Figure 10 shows the relative positions of orbiter and probe away from Titan. Cassini began making synoptic observations 2 months before arrival in order to refine the knowledge of Titan and to characterise the rings and the planet. The spacecraft is designed to withstand small debris collision expected through the empty region. Huygens reaches Titan. when the required velocity change has been made an accelerometer will end the burn.2.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. Huygens Probe Insertion On the third orbit of Saturn. After the burn has ended and sloshing in the fuel tanks has subsided. 8. The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft is the forth to pass through Saturn's rings. The Cassini Orbiter is inserted into Saturn orbit on the 1 July 2004. the spin eject mechanism releases Huygens and imparts a 5rpm axial spin. the Huygens probe is set on course by the Probe Targeting Manoeuvre to intersect Titan. the spacecraft is rolled 60-70° to allow the ORS instruments to be switched on to view Saturn's inner rings. The manoeuvres just before SOI are planned to insure the correct trajectory for the orbit insertion manoeuvre. and is inserted to pass through a region known to be free of particles. This was done as early as possible as soon as a few tenths of pixels came into view of Cassini's imaging instruments. Any manoeuvres after the SOI are only to course correct any errors during the entry burn. The SOI manoeuvre is a 97 minute engine burn with a total increase in velocity (ΔV) of 633m/s. This sets the course 60000 km away from Titan and at the right time to receive transmission from Huygens. this keeps the thrust efficiency at a maximum. the Orbiter fires an engine and executes the orbiter deflection manoeuvre. During landing of the probe. during the landing of Huygens. The engine gimble actuator keeps the main engine pointed near the velocity vector. HALES A Before arriving at Saturn. The spacecraft is then steered at a constant angular velocity rate. Twenty-two days after release.

1 hrs before the orbiter will reach its closest approach to Titan. The major landing events for the Huygens probe is shown in figure 11. position of Orbiter and Probe During Huygens Mission.5 is achieved.3m. A smaller 3. Huygens has a protective thermal shell. this has a diameter of 8. Schematic Representation of Huygens Landing Mission. 1 .0m drogue chute is instead deployed for the remainder of the descent. This allows Huygens to initiate a slow and stable descent. to protect it from enormous flux of heat generated from atmospheric entry.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B. The main parachute is then deployed. The slowing down of the probe allows the release of the protective shell as well as the main parachute. HALES A Figure 10. . Once deceleration to mach 1. The designated flight path angle for the probe is 64°. Huygens enters Titans atmosphere 2. Figure 11. the aft cover is pulled off by a pilot parachute.

Cassini is put back into orbits that take it to the icy satellites. For example Cassini would have to accomplish a risky manoeuvre which could render the spacecraft uncontrollable. The tour of Cassini/Huygens consists of 76 Saturncentred orbits. 1 . The orbits for the tour of the Saturnian system. This has some inherent risks however. From there Cassini explores the volume of the magnetosphere and to high latitudes to observer the rings. Figure 12. The melted ice could be conducive to the viability of any earth organism that might have survived on the spacecraft to that point. which could potentially melt ice on the moon. Titan is the only satellite that is large enough to provide sufficient gravity assists. such as bacterial organisms. Further flybys of Titan. In 2012 the Cassini mission will need to be decommissioned. This too has risks. This is because of the lack of power available by this time. NASA and ESA will make great efforts not to contaminate alien worlds with terrestrial life. On the right the observer is in the planet’s equatorial plane with the sun to the right. Another option is to crash Cassini into an icy moon of Saturn. The complete tour is shown in figure 12. HALES A 9. Orbital Tour of the Saturnian System After Huygens is delivered to the surface of Titan. On the left the view is from above Saturn’s north pole. continually orbiting the planet where it is unlikely to impact anything. 9.CASSINI SPACECRAFT MISSION STUDY ANDREW B.1 Decommissioning Cassini The Cassini mission is roughly over halfway through its looping voyage of the Saturnian system and is still returning a bounty of information. provide opportunities to study and observe the moon as well as gravitational assists to other possible ventures. The RTGs on board the spacecraft generate heat. One option is to leave Cassini in orbit around Saturn. They are navigated by using propulsive manoeuvres and 45 Titan gravity assists. impact Cassini into Saturn. Or like Galileo did at Jupiter. There are many options of what to do with the spacecraft when the power is about to run out.

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