The mission of NASA’s Cassini will end when the probe is directed into Saturn’s atmosphere at around 3 pm Finnish time on 15 September. Instruments used to study the plasma around Saturn, which include technology developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, will be destroyed along with the probe.
Cassini is the first probe to orbit Saturn and the fourth to study the planet. It went into orbit in 2004. Due to its success, the mission was continued until 2017.
When Cassini is destroyed, its 12 scientific instruments, which took pictures of multiple regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, studied dust particles and measured Saturn’s plasma environment and magnetosphere, will be destroyed alongside it.
The technology developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland forms part of the mechanisms, control electronics and support structures of the probe’s two plasma sensing instruments.
“For those of us involved, this has been the most instructive and unique project of our lives,” says Project Manager Kai Viherkanto of VTT.
Among the instruments built by VTT in the early 1990s, the IBS ion beam spectrometer is part of the probe’s CAPS plasma spectrometer, which is moved by an ACT actuator mechanism developed by VTT. VTT’s TT rotating platform for the LEMMS sensor is part of the MIMI magnetosphere imaging instrument.