December 17, 2004
This graphic illustrates the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn and the
initial orbit about Saturn. Upon entering the Saturn system, the Cassini
spacecraft performs a 1.5 hour orbit insertion burn on July 1, 2004. This
maneuver slows the spacecraft sufficiently to enter orbit about Saturn and
defines the start of the four year orbital mission.
The initial orbit is the
largest and longest orbit in the orbital tour. A large periapsis raise
maneuver is performed a couple of months later to move the closest approach
point at Saturn beyond Saturn's inner rings and also to establish the
geometry required for probe entry at the first Titan flyby 2.5 months later.
The Huygens probe is separated from the Cassini spacecraft about 3 weeks
before descending through the Titan atmosphere on November 27. An orbiter
deflection maneuver is performed shortly after probe release to prevent the
orbiter from following the probe into Titan's atmosphere, and to place it
in the best geometry to receive the probe's radio transmissions. (JPL-27089AC)