The ISIS3 software package can be used to process data for several of the Cassini mission instruments, including those of the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) and RADAR.

Here you'll find step-by-step instructions for cartographic and science data processing of these data so that you can create your own high-quality research data products. To get started, click on the science instrument name below.

Brief Mission Summary

Cassini approaching Saturn
Cassini approaching Saturn Artist's conception.
Credit: NASA/JPL

Launched in October, 1997 on a Titan IV-Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Cassini executed two gravity-assist flybys of Venus, then one of each of the Earth and Jupiter to send it on to arrive at Saturn in June, 2004.

Upon reaching Saturn, Cassini swings close to the planet in late 2004. Cassini released the European-built Huygens probe for its descent of up to 2 1/2 hours through Titan's dense atmosphere. Huygens landing and last signal hours later occurred on January 14, 2005.

During the course of the Cassini orbiter's mission, it has executed dozens of close flybys of particular bodies of interest -- including over fifty encounters of Titan and many of Enceladus, Rhea, Iapetus, Mimas, Dione and Hyperion. More flyby's are planned in the extended mission called the Equinox Mission (through Sept. 2010).

Just recently, in February 2010, NASA extended the mission through May 2017, calling it the Cassini Solstice Mission. 155 additional orbits are planned with 54 flybys of Titan and 11 of the icy moon, Enceladus.

Science Goals of the Mission

Circled by distinctive rings and attended by a group of at least 18 moons, Saturn has been called one of the most intriguing planetary realms in the solar system. Its largest moon, Titan, boasts organic chemistry that may hold clues to how life formed on the primitive Earth. So it is that Saturn and Titan was the destination of the Cassini mission, a project by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The U.S. portion of the mission is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Cassini's principal objectives are:

  1. Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamical behavior of the rings;
  2. Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object;
  3. Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus' leading hemisphere;
  4. Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamical behavior of the magnetosphere;
  5. Study the dynamical behavior of Saturn's atmosphere at cloud level;
  6. Study the time variability of Titan's clouds and hazes; and,
  7. Characterize Titan's surface on a regional scale.

Science Instruments

References & Related Resources

Cassini Mission and Instrument

Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS)


Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS)

Planetary Data System (PDS) Information and Data Search Tools

Cassini_Art_th200.png View - Cassini approaching Saturn (33.9 KB) Makayla Shepherd, 2016-05-31 01:37 PM