13 Greatest Discoveries During Its 13 Years at Saturn

13 Greatest Discoveries During Its 13 Years at Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft spent more than a decade in the Saturn system, and what a mission it has been. Cassini revealed new information about the potential habitability of icy moons; it uncovered features that look like pop-culture symbols; and it delivered a glimpse below the atmosphere of Titan, in part by successfully landing a probe on the orange moon’s surface.

Among years of observations, it’s hard to single out Cassini’s best discoveries at Saturn (and the probe also had that stunning Jupiter flyby in 2000), but we’ve done our best and picked out 15 notable things that Cassini revealed about Saturn. You can see more details in the slideshow.

Making icy moons look more habitable than ever

Enceladus stripes

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Cassini was the first mission to spend an extended period of time in Saturn’s neighborhood. (The Voyager probes and the Pioneer 11 probe had all made short flybys of Saturn prior to Cassini’s arrival.) In doing so, Cassini revealed new levels of complexity in Saturn’s moons. The probe found evidence of subsurface oceans of liquid water on some of the moons, spotted geysers and other geologic activity, and even found indications of prebiotic chemistry (more on that further on in the countdown).

Based on Cassini’s findings, scientists think the Saturn system is home to multiple moons that could be hospitable to life. The science revealed by Cassini will also help scientists search for life in other solar systems, because the researchers can extend the lessons of this mission to planets orbiting other stars.

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