After a journey of seven years, gravity-assist slingshots past Earth, Venus and Jupiter, a plunge through Saturn’s ring-plane, and an engine burn of over an hour just to slow it down, the NASA/ESA space probe Cassini becomes the first man-made object to orbit Saturn. The trip has already paid off: Cassini has spotted never-before-seen features in Saturn’s immense rings, and succeeds in piercing Titan’s atmosphere with infrared imaging to provide one of the first-ever glimpses of the huge moon’s cloud-covered surface. Titan will also receive a visit from Cassini’s Huygens probe in 2005.
Cassini arrives at Saturn
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