Cassini is orbiting Saturn with a 31.9-day period in a plane inclined 45.5 degrees from the planet's equatorial plane. The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data were obtained on March 19 using the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) 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".
The on-board S82 command sequence finished controlling the spacecraft's activities this week, and the S83 sequence seamlessly took over. On Earth, Cassini's Navigation team worked on upcoming Orbit Trim Maneuver opportunities, and the Sequence Implementation Process teams continued working on the ten-week command sequences S84 and S85. Planning also proceeded for the 2016 start of the F-ring and Proximal Orbits phase.
Wednesday, March 12 (DOY 071)
The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) completed a 22-hour observation mapping Saturn’s atmosphere in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum; the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) participated in ride-along mode. Next, the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) executed a Saturn limb scan with VIMS and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) riding along; this took two hours. When ISS finished, UVIS took over and began an eight-hour examination of Saturn in the extreme- and far-ultraviolet (EUV and FUV) for eight hours, this time with ISS riding along.
Thursday, March 13 (DOY 072)
CIRS started a 7-hour 40-minute observation of Saturn’s atmosphere to better define its composition, with UVIS and VIMS also taking part. The final commands in the 10-week long S82 sequence clocked out by turning the spacecraft to keep its high-gain antenna dish pointing toward Earth during 10.5 hours of communications with Cassini's engineers and scientists via the DSN.
Next, the S83 command sequence began its ten-week execution, while the flight team members who led its development took responsibility for monitoring its activities. The first science activity was a 36-hour long ISS observation capturing the little rock named Fornjot. With a diameter of about six kilometers, this faint speck revolves about Saturn in an inclined, retrograde orbit 25.1 million kilometers from the planet.
Friday, March 14 (DOY 073)
A web page released today invites visitors to dig through the treasure trove of Cassini's raw-image database and create digital masterpieces and suggested captions to send in: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/cassinifeatures/feature20140314
Saturday, March 15 (DOY 074)
CIRS began a 22-hour observation to map Saturn’s atmosphere using its mid-infrared sensor, with ISS and VIMS riding along.
Sunday, March 16 (DOY 075)
With the 10th anniversary of Cassini's capture into the Saturnian system just a few months away, the Cassini team has released an exciting three-minute video preview of the next four years of the mission:
Monday, March 17 (DOY 076)
ISS led CIRS and VIMS in a Titan cloud monitoring observation lasting one and one-half hours. When that was finished UVIS studied Saturn in the EUV and FUV for 16 hours, with ISS riding along.
Shadows, but no rings, are visible in a unique crescent image of Saturn featured today:
Tuesday, March 18 (DOY 077)
The 13th edition of the Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest has begun. The contest is open to students in grades 5-12, working alone or in groups of up to four. The contest deadline is April 17. The Cassini Project Scientist introduces the contest in a video on this page: