Cassini is orbiting Saturn with a 47.9-day period in a plane inclined 49.7 degrees from the planet's equatorial plane. The most recent spacecraft tracking, telemetry, and radio science data were obtained on Nov. 20 using one of the 34-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) station at Goldstone, California. Except for the science instrument issues described in previous reports (for more information search the Cassini website for CAPS and USO), the spacecraft continues to be in an excellent state of health with all of its subsystems operating normally. Information on the present position of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on "Eyes on the Solar System" at http://1.usa.gov/I4ElBT.
Cassini's Sequence Implementation Process teams continued working on the ten-week command sequences S82 and S83, with tasks and meetings assigned for S84 development. Planning also proceeded for the 2016 start of the F-ring and Proximal Orbits phase.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 (DOY 317)
The Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) took charge of spacecraft pointing to begin a 37-hour observation of the rings, along with the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS). Results will comprise a movie to search for periodicities of the spoke-like features (http://go.usa.gov/4WGP).
The compelling high-phase mosaic of Saturn and the rings from within the planet's shadow, which was released last week, became NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day today: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131113.html
Thursday, Nov. 14 (DOY 318)
The Radio Science team employed the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) antenna in Australia today, capturing data for the Superior Conjunction Experiment (SCE) at X-band (8 GHz) and S-band (2 GHz) amid routine two-way digital communications and radiometric tracking.
Friday, Nov. 15 (DOY 319)
ISS, CIRS and UVIS started another observation searching for periodicities in the Ring spokes. The duration for this one is 29 hours.
Saturday, Nov. 16 (DOY 320)
The Radio Science team employed one of the 34-meter diameter DSN antennas in Australia today, capturing data for the SCE at X-band and Ka-band (32 GHz) during the routine two-way support.
Sunday, Nov. 17 (DOY 321)
The Magnetospheric and Plasma Science (MAPS) instruments continued to take data while the spacecraft was flying through Saturn's magnetotail, which is the long anti-sunward extension of the planet's magnetic field.
Monday, Nov. 18 (DOY 322)
The final observation in the ring-spoke movie series, which ISS, CIRS and UVIS began today, will take 44 continuous hours to complete.
Today's Radio Science SCE was supported by the 70-meter antenna in Spain, capturing at X-band and S-band data.
During today's Mission Planning Forum, the Spacecraft Operations Office presented a proposal to update the spacecraft's Operational Modes configurations that would take effect in the S85 command sequence and continue through the S101 at the end of Cassini's mission in September 2017.
Operational modes (opmodes) are routine states that delimit how the spacecraft handles various resources such as electrical power, data handling, and attitude control. Cassini’s three Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) generate less power as the mission progresses, which requires the engineering team to revisit the power allocations at points along the tour.
A beautiful wide-angle image of Saturn's northern crescent and the unlit side of the rings, taken through ISS's near-infrared filter, was featured today. Its view cuts through some of the upper haze to show deeper levels of atmospheric features; note that part of the northern hexagon can be seen: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=4921
Tuesday, Nov. 19 (DOY 323)
While Cassini's optical remote-sensing instruments were watching the rings, the MAPS instruments continued gathering data for cross-discipline studies of Saturn's magnetotail. All the observations were routinely stored as digital data on the solid-state recorder for later playback in telemetry.