The Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing Group is directly involved in the Cassini mission for many years. From 1991 to 2014 Prof. Neukum† was a member in the Cassini Imaging (ISS) Team. Tilmann Denk has been appointed as Cassini Participating Scientist in 2013 and Prof. Jaumann from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is a team member of the Spectrometer (VIMS) Experiment on Cassini.
The project has been funded at FU Berlin since 2003 by the National Space Administration with means of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The latest approved period of funding reaches from July 2015 to October 2018 (ref.no. 50 OH 1503).
At present we are working on the following topics:
A major task is to plan the camera observations for the Saturnian moons Iapetus, Dione, Rhea, Phoebe and the outer moons. The planning is conducted in close co-operation with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA in California, with the Space Science Institute in Colorado and with the DLR Institute of Planetary Research:
- Definition of the time schedules for the targeted and remote moon flybys
- Negotiations with other instrument teams to coordinate the short observation times
- Preparation and implementation of the entire observation plan for the outer moons
- Preparation of the camera control files (moment of exposure, exposure time etc.) and partly of the commands for the position control of the Cassini probe
Scientific evaluation of data
Immediately after the reception of data the systematic processing and evaluation can be started. The first images of the Saturnian moons reached Earth in June 2004. Since then, Cassini already transmitted more than 80.000 exposures. The image data is the basis for working on the following research topics:
- Age determination of solid surfaces in the Saturnian system (by means of crater measurements)
- Evolution of the light-dark dichotomy on Iapetus (global and local)
- Geologic evolution of the moons
- Research on meteorite bombardment
- Research on physical features of the outer moons (rotational periods, polar axes, form etc.)