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Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn

10 June 2004

Optical filters manufactured at the University of Reading have just reached Saturn aboard the Cassini-Huygens mission.

The Cassini orbiter will enter orbit around Saturn in July 2004 to begin a four-year study of the ringed planet, its complex magnetic environment and mysterious moons.

The Infrared Multilayer Laboratory designed and manufactured novel very broadband (7 to 17┬Ám) antireflection coatings utilising PbTe, ZnSe and BaF2. The coatings were deposited on a 65mm diameter Germanium lenses for use in the CIRS (Composite Infrared Spectrometer) instrument which is was flown on the NASA Cassini orbiter.

The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument consists of dual interferometers that measure infrared emission from atmospheres, rings, and surfaces over wavelengths from 7 to 1000 microns (1400 to 10 cm-1) to determine their composition and temperatures. The instrument will measure infrared emissions from atmospheres, rings and surfaces in the Saturn system to determine their composition, temperatures and thermal properties. It will map the atmosphere of Saturn in three dimensions to determine temperature and pressure profiles with altitude, gas composition, and the distribution of aerosols and clouds. This instrument will also measure thermal characteristics and the composition of satellite surfaces and rings.