Cassini's Infrared Saturn

  • Released Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:47PM

The Cassini-Huygens mission arrived at Saturn in 2004, beginning an epic thirteen-year tour of the ringed planet and its many moons. Cassini and its companion probe, Huygens, were an international collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Cassini carried an impressive array of scientific instruments, including the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) built at Goddard Space Flight Center. By studying the Saturn system in heat radiation, CIRS observed hot spots in a giant Saturn storm, discovered a new hydrocarbon in Titan's smoggy atmosphere, found unexpected surface heating on Mimas and Tethys, and even detected evidence of a liquid water ocean under the icy shell of Enceladus. This video explores Cassini CIRS' greatest hits, as told by instrument team members Michael Flasar, Conor Nixon, and Carrie Anderson. Learn more about the CIRS instrument and team.

Opening the Cassini CIRS engineering model inside its clean tent at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. This model is a twin of the CIRS instrument on the Cassini spacecraft.

Opening the Cassini CIRS engineering model inside its clean tent at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. This model is a twin of the CIRS instrument on the Cassini spacecraft.

The Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) engineering model.

The Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) engineering model.

The CIRS computer station, where instrument commands are tested before they are sent to JPL for transmission to the Cassini spacecraft.

The CIRS computer station, where instrument commands are tested before they are sent to JPL for transmission to the Cassini spacecraft.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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