Cassini Status Update (Launch +13)
October 28, 1997
10:00 a.m. PST
The Cassini spacecraft continues its journey through space in excellent health on its way to the planet Saturn while ground controllers perform checks on various flight systems. "The spacecraft is operating beautifully," said Cassini Deputy Program Manager Ronald
Cassini's three plasma wave antennas have been deployed successfully. In addition, controllers verified that the Langmuir probe deployment during Cassini's launch phase was successful. The probe, which measures electron density and temperature, is part of the radio and plasma wave science instrument that will conduct investigations of Saturn's magnetic environment. The principal investigator, Dr. Donald Gurnett of the University of Iowa, called local project members with congratulations for the successful deployment and verification.
Controllers successfully transitioned from low-gain antenna number one to low-gain antenna number two, increasing signal strength by several decibels. This change between the two low-gain antennas on the spacecraft was planned due to changing geometry requirements caused by the relative movement of the Earth and the spacecraft. Several transitions between the two antennas will be accomplished during the mission. Data from the first instrument maintenance sequence was played back and early indications show good information.
The spacecraft's velocity relative to the Sun is at about 26.5 kilometers per second (about 59,400 miles per hour). Since the Sun is the stationary object in our solar system, spacecraft velocity will be shown as relative to it in this and future status reports. Cassini is now more than 4.7 million kilometers (more than 3 million miles) from Earth.
The Cassini spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, at 4:43 a.m. EDT on October 15.
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.