Cassini Arrival Orbit
December 17, 2004
This graphic illustrates the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn and the initial orbit about Saturn. Upon entering the Saturn system, the Cassini spacecraft performs a 1.5 hour orbit insertion burn on July 1, 2004. This maneuver slows the spacecraft sufficiently to enter orbit about Saturn and defines the start of the four year orbital mission.
The initial orbit is the largest and longest orbit in the orbital tour. A large periapsis raise maneuver is performed a couple of months later to move the closest approach point at Saturn beyond Saturn's inner rings and also to establish the geometry required for probe entry at the first Titan flyby 2.5 months later.
The Huygens probe is separated from the Cassini spacecraft about 3 weeks before descending through the Titan atmosphere on November 27. An orbiter deflection maneuver is performed shortly after probe release to prevent the orbiter from following the probe into Titan's atmosphere, and to place it in the best geometry to receive the probe's radio transmissions. (JPL-27089AC)