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Q: Aero brake Cassini orbiter into Titan orbit ( No Answer,   4 Comments )
Subject: Aero brake Cassini orbiter into Titan orbit
Category: Science > Astronomy
Asked by: x86_64x2-ga
List Price: $14.00
Posted: 12 May 2006 10:42 PDT
Expires: 11 Jun 2006 10:42 PDT
Question ID: 728144
I would like to know whether the following end-of-mission extension
scenario for the Cassini orbiter had been proposed - AND whether it is
technically feasible to do achieve:
Aero-brake the orbiter over successive orbits to get it in a position
to orbit Titan. Initially by a combination of using Saturn and Titans'
atmospheres to shape the orbit until 'captured' into Titan orbit. The
initial Titan orbit could further be shaped by successive aero-braking
by Titan alone.
Has the above been considered, and is it possible?

Clarification of Question by x86_64x2-ga on 12 May 2006 15:39 PDT
I'm talking about gentle aero braking here - not one which would
damage the vehicle. I believe that Cassini passes Titan at around
6km/s currently so the vehicle would not survive a pass of low enough
altitude to bleed most of that speed off. So I'm asking whether it is
feasible for numerous Saturn/Titan aero brakings to achieve Titan
orbit. And again - has it been considered as a possibility for
extending the mission beyond 2008 when its primary mission ends.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Aero brake Cassini orbiter into Titan orbit
From: ansel001-ga on 12 May 2006 17:21 PDT
I don't know what scenarios have been proposed to extend Cassini's
mission, but why would you want to make the mission myopic and only
focus on Titan?  It seems to me you would miss out on a lot that way. 
Already, as it is, the mission focuses quite a bit on Titan.  There
are 44 flybys of Titan with a gravity assist scheduled thru the summer
of 2008 as can be seen at the following link.
Subject: Re: Aero brake Cassini orbiter into Titan orbit
From: mongolia-ga on 13 May 2006 14:53 PDT
Given recent developments your idea would be much more appropiate to Enceladus.


Subject: Re: Aero brake Cassini orbiter into Titan orbit
From: keithpickering-ga on 13 Jun 2006 11:15 PDT
Aerobraking is not feasible without a heat shield, which Cassini
lacks. Attempting such a maneuver would destroy the spacecraft.
Subject: Re: Aero brake Cassini orbiter into Titan orbit
From: eestudent-ga on 07 Aug 2006 21:48 PDT
If you do a "very large number" of aerobrakes you could do it without
a spacecraft that was designed for such maneuvers. However, it seems
like NASA generally wants spacecraft not to settle into an orbit, but
to move father out of the solar system provided gravity assists gave
the craft enough velocity. I suspect space missions do not generally
settle into orbits because they do not have telescope and
retranslation abilities to justify circling a planet for some time.

I would love to hear an authorative answer.

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