Cassini is orbiting Saturn with a 31.9-day period in a plane inclined 40.3 degrees from the planet's equatorial plane. The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data were obtained on Oct. 15 using the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) station in California. 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 has been gradually gathering speed after last week's apoapsis passage, falling inbound along its orbital path towards an Oct. 21 periapsis. Still close enough to apoapsis to take advantage of the orbital-mechanics "leverage," the flight team fired the spacecraft's main engine to set up for another encounter with Saturn's massive moon Titan. This flyby, dubbed T-106, will occur on Oct. 24.
Also gathering speed are final preparations for Cassini's 64th Project Science Group meeting next week, when more than 200 scientists will converge at JPL for workshops and team meetings.
Wednesday, Oct. 8 (DOY 281)
Based on the latest iterations of navigation solutions, the flight team created commands and uplinked them today to perform Orbit Trim Maneuver (OTM)-393. The spacecraft properly responded by turning and firing its bipropellent-fed main engine for 6 seconds. This provided the desired change in velocity of 1 meter per second, targeting for a flyby altitude of 1,013 kilometers above Titan's surface for the T-106 encounter.
Thursday, Oct. 9 (DOY 282)
The Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) had control of the spacecraft's pointing while the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) rode along to observe Saturn’s northern aurora for 15 hours.
Friday, Oct. 10 (DOY 283)
VIMS began a 31-hour observation of the northern aurora, with CIRS and UVIS riding along again to acquire data. The observation was repeated for 29 hours on Sunday.
Monday, Oct. 13 (DOY 286)
Saturn's narrow F Ring, plus the 42-kilometer-wide Keeler gap within the outer part of the A ring, are accentuated as they cut across the icy moon Tethys in the background
Tuesday, Oct. 14 (DOY 287)
ISS and VIMS made a 90-minute observation as part of the Titan monitoring campaign, this one from a distance of 1.8 million kilometers. When the observation completed, ISS spent one hour looking near Saturn for small objects as part of the satellite orbit campaign. After a two-minute glance over to Saturn for an ISS storm-watch observation, ISS turned to watch the arc of Saturn's G ring for 17 hours while CIRS rode along.
After another quick ISS storm watch on the planet, CIRS began a 10-hour watch of the northern, sunlit side of the rings to obtain thermal infrared spectral data for studying ring particle composition. VIMS rode along.
This week, the DSN communicated with and tracked Cassini on five occasions, using stations in Australia and California. A total of 152 individual commands were uplinked, and about 284 megabytes of telemetry data were downlinked at rates as high as 110,601 bits per second.