Cassini/VIMS Observation Service (Instrumentation for major observatories on Earth and in space)

This observation service came into being with the preparation of sequences for observing Titan (the largest moon of Saturn), the VIMS (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer) spectral-imaging machine on board the Cassini space probe, which has been in orbit around Saturn since July 2004. This preparatory work related to the direction in which the probe was to be positioned when the observation time is allocated to VIMS and the choice of characteristics for the images recorded (the size of the images, mosaics, shutter speed, wavelength, etc.). It was linked to the OSUNA between 2010 and 2019.

Work began on these activities in October 2004 when the Cassini probe flew over Titan for the first time. NASA carries out a review of Cassini/VMS every two years.

The Cassini mission, the initial duration of which was set at 4 years, was extended up until 15th September 2017, the date on which the observation service was to be closed. Between 2004 and 2018, 128 grade A publications used this observation service.

Particular focus was paid to studying geological structures (impact craters, mountains, dunes, rivers, etc.), the evolution of lakes, seasonal changes to cloud cover and the characteristics of Titan’s orbital parameters and internal structure.

The planning of VIMS observations will then be used to develop maps of the spectral properties of the surface and the atmosphere of Titan, which appears as an orange ball to the naked eye.Titan, qui apparaît comme une boule orangée à l’œil nu. 

> National heads of the observation department: Christophe Sotin (Pr., Director), Stéphane Le Mouélic (IR, Deputy Director)