Broadcast 2595

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Guest:  Dr. Linda Spilker;  Topic: NASA's CASSINI mission to Saturn and its planned ending.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See  For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. 

We welcomed Dr. Linda Spilker to the program to discuss the NASA Cassini mission to Saturn, Cassini Saturn discoveries, and more.  Note that our program was 66 minutes in length in one segment.  We started our discussion with Dr. Spilker doing a quick overview of the Cassini mission.  It took seven years to get to Saturn and has been flying around the Saturn system for11 years since July 1, 2004.  Cassini will run out of fuel with a spectacular final mission in September 2017 which we discussed later in the show.  Dr. Spilker talked about the design and budget compromises made with Cassini, the mission plan or the Cassini "tours," the protests against Cassini due to the NTG aboard the spacecraft, plus the path it took to get to the Saturn system.  I asked Dr. Spilker for the highlights so far regarding Cassini discoveries so don't miss what she had to say about this given there have been so many great findings and discoveries.  We also talked orbital dynamics for Saturn orbiting the sun (1 orbit=30 Earth years) and Cassini orbiting Saturn or touring the rings or the moons.  Highlights included the polar geysers discovered on the moon Enceladus, the mysterious red streaks on a smaller moon, Tethys, plus countless discoveries about Saturn's ring system.  Linda had much to say about Titan and the Huygens Probe and its camera limitation due to a question by Dr. Doug.  We also talked about finding organics in the Saturn system, the possibility of life, &  comparisons to Mars and Europa.  Ben asked if the huge gravity field of somewhat nearby Jupiter had an impact on Saturn.  Sherry wanted to know if NASA, JPL, or members of the Cassini team ever heard from the NTG protestors with apologies given the great success of Cassini.  I bet you can guess what Dr. Spilker said in reply to Ben.  Our guest was also asked if a future mission could be done using solar rather than an NTG.  While Linda was not certain of it, she did say that great advances have been made in solar panel effectiveness, storage, etc. NASA is looking into the possibility of doing a Cassini like mission using solar power.  Karen wanted to know how long it took Cassini to orbit Saturn.  The answer required knowing the specific tour Cassini was undertaking at the time but anywhere from 6-7 days to a few months depending on the tour.  I asked Linda how JPL planned these tours so don't miss how this is done and how a mission is planned for a spacecraft such as Cassini.  Doug emailed in another question about possible ion propulsion usage and Burton in Montreal wanted to know if a Saturn probe mission might be part of the new NASA New Frontier Mission group being planned.  Many times during the show Linda referenced building on the shoulders of the Voyager spacecraft and its Saturn system information.  Todd talked about the end of Cassini which prompted Linda to describe the final mission plan for this terrific spacecraft. You can read about this final mission at  John in Philadelphia was the last to ask a question as he wanted to know the size and shape of Cassini, what it looked like.  Linda did a great job explaining the size and shape, and schematic for Cassini. 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  Linda can be reached through JPL or The Space Show.





Cassini, Saturn, the rings of Saturn and more

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29 Nov 2015 Dr. Linda Spilker
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