Potential encore-mission scenarios have been considered for the Cassini mission. In this paper we discuss one of the end-of-life scenarios in which the Cassini spacecraft could perform a Saturn escape via gravity assists from Titan. It is shown that such satellite-aided escape requires a small deterministic maneuver (e.g., Δv<50 m/s), but provides enough energy for the Cassini spacecraft to reach a range of targets in our Solar System, as close to the Sun as the asteroid belt or as far as the Kuiper belt. The escape sequence could be initiated from an arbitrary point during the on-going Cassini mission. Example tours are presented in which the final Titan flyby places the spacecraft into ballistic trajectories that reach Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. After years of heliocentric flight, the spacecraft could impact on the target gas giant or perform a flyby to escape from the Solar System (if not to another destination). The concept can be generalized to a new kind of missions, including nested-grand tours, which may involve satellite-aided captures and escapes at more than one planet.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering