Cassini is currently orbiting Saturn with a 47.8-day period in a plane inclined 33.1 degrees from the planet's equatorial plane. The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data were obtained on Nov. 12 using the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) station in Australia. The spacecraft continues to be in an excellent state of health with all of its subsystems operating normally except for the instrument issues described at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/significantevents/anomalies. Information on the present position of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on "Eyes on the Solar System."
Cassini continued moving outward in its Saturn orbit toward a Nov. 14 apoapsis. While coasting and slowing this week, the spacecraft reached an altitude of 4.4 million kilometers from the planet by the end of Tuesday. With high altitude comes a beautiful view, and Cassini's various science instruments took full advantage.
Wednesday, Nov. 5 (DOY 309)
Looking back toward Saturn's north polar region, the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI), the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), and the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) began a set of auroral science observations that will take 37 hours to complete. Of these instruments, which all face the same direction, only MIMI does not use an optical telescope. Instead, it creates unique images by direct-sensing methods, from the particle environment; it literally "soaks in" the view.
Thursday, Nov. 6 (DOY 310)
The on-board sequence of timed commands, which is known as S86, had Cassini turn to face its high-gain antenna dish to Earth. Just as the spacecraft's microwave radio signals finished propagating across the 1.64 billion kilometer void, the DSN's newest antenna finished rotating to face Saturn. Late in the day, after downlinking four hours' worth of digital data, S86 had the spacecraft begin another 37-hour aurora observation like the previous one. The newest DSN station, known as DSS-35, is 34 meters in diameter and located at the DSN’s Canberra complex in Australia. While collecting the digital telemetry data from Cassini, it also participated in the Radio Science team's superior conjunction experiment to study the Sun's corona. The station also provided tracking data that the Cassini navigators will use.
Friday, Nov. 7 (DOY 311)
A Cassini scientist's endeavor made NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day today, with a map of the surface of Saturn's big icy moon Dione:
Saturday, Nov. 8 (DOY 312)
Having finished the long-duration observations of Saturn's aurora, ISS took control of the spacecraft's pointing for 90 minutes, with CIRS and VIMS riding along, to perform an observation in the Titan monitoring campaign. Hazy, cloudy Titan was 4.1 million kilometers away.
Sunday, Nov. 9 (DOY 313)
While the spacecraft continued to slow along its ballistic arc towards apoapsis, S86 had Cassini turn to favor an observation by the Cosmic Dust Detector (CDA). The instrument then began a 42-hour long measurement of the dust, far from Saturn, that revolves about the planet in the retrograde direction.
Monday, Nov. 10 (DOY 314)
Cassini's Radar instrument can operate as a radar altimeter as well as an imager, a scatterometer, and a radiometer. A news feature released today discusses findings based on altimetry depth-measurements of Titan's greatest lake: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/cassinifeatures/feature20141110
Why are the sunlit rings so dark in this image featured today? ISS used a near-infrared filter, which brings out not only very beautiful but scientifically valuable scenes of Saturn's morning atmosphere: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=5110
Tuesday, Nov. 11 (DOY 315)
ISS and VIMS made another Titan monitoring observation; the target had swung around to a distance of 3.5 million kilometers. After this 90-minute interlude, CDA started another observation of retrograde dust; this one lasted 36 hours.
Scientific results are still coming in from Cassini's observations of the Great Red Spot in the year 2000, while Jupiter was giving Cassini its final gravity-assist kick towards Saturn: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/newsreleases/newsrelease20141111
This week, the DSN communicated with and tracked Cassini on five occasions, using stations in Australia and California. Each also participated in Cassini's Radio Science superior conjunction experiment. A total of 406 individual commands were uplinked, and about 360 megabytes of telemetry data were downlinked and captured at rates as high as 110,601 bits per second.