Cassini Mission – Target 2 – By Caitriona Ryan 2nd Year Student at St.Joseph’s College

My name is Caitriona Ryan and I am a second year student attending St.Joseph’s College, Co.Tipperary and I have chosen target 2 as my chosen target as I believe that this target has the potential for scientists to study Jupiter in a way which it has never been studied before.


Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, it is so big that 1,000 earths would fit inside it, even though the planet is so big it only looks or seems like a speck to the naked eye, this is because it seems so far away. As Cassini is orbiting Saturn which is further from Jupiter than Earth, taking pictures from Cassini would be a lot more beneficial to scientists studying “exoplanets” as its images would show how exoplanets with an atmosphere would appear from a billion miles away, which would be very useful to scientists as it would give them an idea of what types of things they should be looking out for.

The last time that Jupiter has been observed from afar was more than 25 years ago by “Voyager 1”. There has been amazing advances in technology in recent years, which means the technology and the instruments aboard Cassini are a lot more advanced and will provide much more accurate information and data about the planet and its appearance, which would be helpful in the study of Jupiter.

Even though Saturn is still far away from Jupiter, taking pictures of the giant planet from Saturn’s orbit may be the best way to study Jupiter in different ways for the time being as launching any type spacecraft from Earth to Jupiter would take years, compare this to how long it took for the Cassini spacecraft to reach Saturn from Earth, which took roughly 7 years. Keep in mind that Saturn is roughly 1.2 -­ 1.67 billion km away from Earth and even though Jupiter may be closer to us then Saturn is, it would still take years to design, build and launch a spacecraft, let alone the amount of time the craft would take hopefully reaching it’s destination.

By choosing target 2 it would also become clear to scientists what improvements and changes are needed to study planets that are not in our solar system, as observing Jupiter from afar and studying it as if it was an exoplanet, we would be able to see how much of our current technology would be useful in the search for exoplanets beyond our Solar System and what improvements need to be made to make the search easier for the future.