Cassini Garners Top Honor From Air and Space Museum

PASADENA, Calif. NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has received the top group honor from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum the Trophy for Current Achievement. Representatives for Cassini will receive the trophy on March 21 at a black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C.

"Here we are some 15 years since Cassini launched and it's amazing how well the spacecraft has operated," said Charles Elachi, director of JPL. "Thanks to the superb work of both the development team and the operations team, Cassini has been able to show us the beauty and diversity of the Saturn system and, beyond that, to study what is really a miniature solar system in its own right."

The trophies for current and lifetime achievement are the National Air and Space Museum's most prestigious awards. They recognize outstanding achievements in the fields of aerospace science, technology and their history.

"The National Air and Space Museum Trophy is among the most prestigious awards given by the Smithsonian, it recognizes significant aerospace accomplishments," said National Air and Space Museum Director Jack Dailey. "We are pleased to present it to the Cassini-Huygens Flight Team in the Current Achievement category."

The Cassini-Huygens mission, a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, launched in 1997. It performed a dramatic burn in June 2004 to slide into orbit around Saturn and, in December of that year, the spacecraft successfully released ESA's Huygens probe to pass down through the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan.

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