Cassini Significant Events 01/20/05 - 01/26/05

January 26, 2005

(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Thursday, January 20:

Let's take a look at what Cassini will be doing for science this week. Looks like the Magnetospheric and Plasma Science (MAPS) instruments - Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS), Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS), Magnetometer Subsystem (MAG), Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI) and Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument - will be continuing the magnetospheric boundary campaign. They will be looking at boundaries on the dawn flank of the magnetosphere, including the bowshock, magnetopause and associated boundary layers. These instruments will also be monitoring the solar wind when outside the magnetosphere.

The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) will conduct a survey of hydrogen in the interplanetary medium and the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) will monitor dust streams in or coming from Saturn's magnetosphere.

The sequence team leads finished uplinking the S08 background sequence today.

The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) team at JPL began reconstructing meta-data for the earliest Cruise data to support reprocessing to make a better set of cubes for final archiving. A design is now in place for capturing this meta-data and migrating it into the cube labels.

Friday, January 21:

There were no special events today. What this really means is that the instruments are taking data, the Navigation team is obtaining daily Optical Navigation images, and we have about one DSN pass a day where we downlink the data. For this week these activities are happening every day. For the rest of the report, if you see that I have skipped a day, you can assume that there were no "additional events" to add to this list.

Oops. Missed one. A major Huygens press conference concerning science results was held today in Germany. I received some highlights to share that were adapted from a Huygens press release. Check out their website for more details. 

Analysis of the Huygens science data continues. Spectacular images captured by the Descent Imager and Spectral Radiometer (DISR) reveal that Titan has extraordinarily Earth-like meteorology and geology. DISR has revealed geological evidence for precipitation, erosion, mechanical abrasion and other fluvial activity that says that the physical processes shaping Titan are much the same as those shaping Earth.

Heat generated by Huygens at the landing site warmed the soil beneath the probe and both the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) and the Surface Science Package (SSP) detected bursts of methane gas boiled out of surface material, reinforcing methane's principal role in Titan's geology and atmospheric meteorology -- forming clouds and precipitation that erodes and abrades the surface.

Saturday, January 22:

Today marked the official end of tour sequence S07 and the start of execution of S08. One of the first on-board events was for all the instruments to load their expanded block files and prepare of science acquisition. All went as planned.

Monday, January 24:

Now this is how you start a Monday! A DISR image of riverbeds and lakebeds on Titan is today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. 

The Radio Science Subsystem (RSS) performed an end-to-end test today as well as an IVD test. They will be releasing their report in about a week. Look for more details then.

The Program is bearing down on the end of Science Operations Plan (SOP) Implementation for the tour sequences. There are only 41 sequences in the prime mission. Today the second and final official port was met for S39 and S40. The wrap up meeting for this process will be held on February 9. By that time, the process for S41 will be nearing its end as well.

Tuesday, January 25:

Here's something interesting, a science fiction writing competition: From Earth to Planet X. For more information and details go to the ESA website at:

Now that the world has seen the first images of Saturn's moon Titan, here is a chance for young people to imagine voyages to other planets. EURISY, in cooperation with UNESCO and the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education, is holding a competition for young sci-fi writers. The author of the best story in each age group will win a digital camera and there will also be prizes for whoever comes 2nd and 3rd. From Earth to Planet X is the theme. Using this as their base, budding authors are asked to imagine and write a story describing progress, developments and discoveries related to science and life in outer space.

Wednesday, January 26:

Preliminary Port#2 for SOP Implementation of S41 occurred today. The team files are in the process of being merged. Official port#2 is scheduled for February 2. The wrap-up meeting is scheduled for February 16. At that time all initial versions of the tour sequences will be archived and will be waiting final processing closer to their scheduled execution dates. Remember, Cassini's primary tour goes out to 2008!

Science Planning hosted a Project Briefing today for S10. The briefing included presentations of the special events in this sequences as well as items that are being left open that need to be addressed when the products are passed on to the Uplink Operations Team. The next and final phase in processing for this sequence begins on January 28.

Wrap up:

That's it for this week. The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired today from the Goldstone tracking station. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and all subsystems are operating normally. Don't forget to check out the Cassini web site for the latest press releases and images.