Cassini Program Status Report

May 1, 1996

The engineering model of the Huygens Probe arrived at JPL last month for test and integration with the Cassini orbiter. The engineering model is a functional duplicate of the actual Huygens flight model, which will be installed on the Cassini spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida prior to Cassini's October 1997 launch from Cape Canaveral.


Meanwhile, a full-scale mock-up of the Cassini spacecraft finished its role as a stand-in for the real Cassini spacecraft in Cape Canaveral, helping engineers and technicians rehearse the transportation and launch vehicle integration activities that the actual spacecraft will undergo when it is prepared for launch next year. Referred to as "Trailblazer," the mock-up is to be shipped back to JPL where one of its jobs will be to serve as a model for the custom-fitted blanketing that will help maintain the spacecraft's thermal control and protect it from micrometeroids.


Last month marked the first time that instrument data coming directly from the Cassini spacecraft were available to a remotely located science team at the same time the data were available at JPL. The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), mounted on the spacecraft, sent data in near real time to the UVIS team at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Cassini's distributed operations strategy allows each experiment team with unprecedented access to engineering and science data from its experiment instrumentation.


Additional information about Cassini-Huygens is online at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.


Cassini will begin orbiting Saturn on July 1, 2004, and release its piggybacked Huygens probe about six months later for descent through the thick atmosphere of the moon Titan. Cassini-Huygens is a cooperative mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.


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