Cassini is orbiting Saturn with a 31.9-day period in a plane inclined 50.1 degrees from the planet's equatorial plane. The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data were obtained on Jan. 14 using the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network station at Canberra, Australia. 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/1hyw3iH.
While the on-board S82 command sequence controlled the spacecraft this week, Cassini's Sequence Implementation Process teams continued working on the ten-week sequences S83 and S84. Tasks and meetings have been set for S85 development, and planning proceeded for the 2016 start of the F-ring and Proximal Orbits phase.
Wednesday, Jan. 8 (DOY 008)
The Magnetospheric and Plasma Science (MAPS) instruments completed a 35-hour magnetotail and plasma flow observation while the spacecraft traversed the environs "downwind" of Saturn from the Sun. Cassini's position (though not the magnetotail) is illustrated here looking toward the south; note the direction of the planet's shadow: http://go.usa.gov/ZHq4
Thursday, Jan. 9 (DOY 009)
Cassini completed a nine-hour, two-way tracking and communications session with flight team engineers and scientists via the Deep Space Network (DSN). Next, the MAPS instruments again took control of spacecraft pointing, and began a 37-hour long magnetotail and plasma flow observation. The spacecraft traveled toward the right (i.e. anti-clockwise) from its position seen in the illustration above.
Friday, Jan. 10 (DOY 010)
Deep Space Station (DSS) 43, the 70-meter diameter DSN station at Canberra, Australia, spent six hours linked with Cassini today, providing flawless two-way digital communications and radiometric tracking. This was one of Cassini's four DSN passes this week, all of which were with DSS 43. The round-trip communications time at the speed of light was two hours 53 minutes today, decreasing as Earth swings around the Sun.
Saturday, Jan. 11 (DOY 011)
The Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) and the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) observed the faint rings at high-phase illumination and low-elevation pointing angles for 17.5 hours, during which time the spacecraft passed through the ring plane going northward. The same instruments then turned the spacecraft to begin an 18.5-hour observation of the rings' spoke-like features (http://go.usa.gov/4WGP) .
Sunday, Jan. 12 (DOY 012)
Since ISS began to acquire science data on approach to Saturn in January 2004, there have been about 312,000 images taken, downlinked, processed, and distributed. In the same period over 203,000 VIMS cubes have come through the system.
Monday, Jan. 13 (DOY 013)
The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) performed a 23-hour observation of Saturn’s atmosphere to better define its composition. VIMS then squeezed in a two-minute storm-watch observation on the planet.
Tuesday, Jan. 14 (DOY 014)
ISS spent 12.5 hours today creating a movie of the dark-face ring spokes at high phase, to search for spoke periodicities.
The Navigation team took a new delivery today of the suite of navigation software known as MONTE (Mission-analysis Operations and Navigation Toolkit Environment).