Space Science Reviews

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 363-497

First online:

Cassini Imaging Science: Instrument Characteristics And Anticipated Scientific Investigations At Saturn

  • Carolyn C. PorcoAffiliated withCICLOPS/Space Science Institute Email author 
  • , Robert A. WestAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory
  • , Steven SquyresAffiliated withCornell University
  • , Alfred McewenAffiliated withUniversity of Arizona
  • , Peter ThomasAffiliated withCornell University
  • , Carl D. MurrayAffiliated withQueen Mary, University of London
  • , Anthony DelgenioAffiliated withNASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • , Andrew P. IngersollAffiliated withCalifornia Institute of Technology
  • , Torrence V. JohnsonAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory
    • , Gerhard NeukumAffiliated withFreie UniversitŠt
    • , Joseph VeverkaAffiliated withCornell University
    • , Luke DonesAffiliated withSouthwest Research Institute
    • , Andre BrahicAffiliated withCICLOPS/Space Science InstituteUniversitŽ Paris
    • , Joseph A. BurnsAffiliated withCornell University
    • , Vance HaemmerleAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory
    • , Benjamin KnowlesAffiliated withCICLOPS/Space Science Institute
    • , Douglas DawsonAffiliated withUniversity of Arizona
    • , Thomas RoatschAffiliated withCICLOPS/Space Science InstituteDLR
    • , Kevin BeurleAffiliated withQueen Mary, University of London
    • , William OwenAffiliated withJet Propulsion Laboratory

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The Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) is the highest-resolution two-dimensional imaging device on the Cassini Orbiter and has been designed for investigations of the bodies and phenomena found within the Saturnian planetary system. It consists of two framing cameras: a narrow angle, reflecting telescope with a 2-m focal length and a square field of view (FOV) 0.35 across, and a wide-angle refractor with a 0.2-m focal length and a FOV 3.5 across. At the heart of each camera is a charged coupled device (CCD) detector consisting of a 1024 square array of pixels, each 12 μ on a side. The data system allows many options for data collection, including choices for on-chip summing, rapid imaging and data compression. Each camera is outfitted with a large number of spectral filters which, taken together, span the electromagnetic spectrum from 200 to 1100 nm. These were chosen to address a multitude of Saturn-system scientific objectives: sounding the three-dimensional cloud structure and meteorology of the Saturn and Titan atmospheres, capturing lightning on both bodies, imaging the surfaces of Saturn’s many icy satellites, determining the structure of its enormous ring system, searching for previously undiscovered Saturnian moons (within and exterior to the rings), peering through the hazy Titan atmosphere to its yet-unexplored surface, and in general searching for temporal variability throughout the system on a variety of time scales. The ISS is also the optical navigation instrument for the Cassini mission. We describe here the capabilities and characteristics of the Cassini ISS, determined from both ground calibration data and in-flight data taken during cruise, and the Saturn-system investigations that will be conducted with it. At the time of writing, Cassini is approaching Saturn and the images returned to Earth thus far are both breathtaking and promising.


Cassini Saturn Imaging Rings Moons