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When the history-making Cassini spacecraft descended into Saturn's atmosphere for a fiery finale in September, two decades and two mission extensions after its launch, scientists at Leti could proudly say "mission accomplished".
This information helped scientists study the thermal structure and composition of all those objects.
Thinner than we ever imagined!'"Leti detectors onboard Cassini functioned perfectly from the beginning till the very end of the mission," said Olivier Gravrand, research director of IR devices. "They provided information about the temperature of a variety of objects in Saturn's atmosphere, including an extremely useful measurement of temperature gradients in Saturn's rings. This provided vital information for estimating ring thickness. It was less than 10 meters, thinner than we ever imagined!"
When NASA, the European Space Agency (ESS) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) were equipping Cassini and its temporary companion, Huygens, Leti was the only reliable source that could provide focal plane arrays for the IR detectors for the long wavelength range.
Leti's highflying knowhow
Leti The Cassini-Huygens mission is the most ambitious effort in planetary space exploration ever undertaken, but Leti has helped equip several missions over the years:
Working with its long-term partners CNES and ESA, Leti developed instruments or subsystems, such as the bolometers, for the Herschel Space Observatory (2009-13) and absolute scalar magnetometers for the SWARM mission (2013).
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.