Cassini Continues Successful Deployment of Instruments
December 3, 1997
Now seven weeks and more than 113 million kilometers (about 70 million miles) flown since its perfect launch on Oct. 15, the Cassini spacecraft remains in excellent health as it travels smoothly along the first leg of its nearly seven-year-long flight path to Saturn.
The temporary covers that protected many of Cassini's sensitive instrument optics and other detectors during launch have been shed over the past few weeks, and the ground operations team at JPL reports that the spacecraft has successfully deployed antennas and other mechanisms that had been stowed for launch. Cassini's instruments and operating systems are operating normally.
This month, the spacecraft will remain relatively quiet, with periodic system health checks and routine maintenance operations scheduled. Telecommunications with Cassini are conducted through the antennas of NASA's global Deep Space Network, with complexes located in California's Mojave Desert, in Tidbinbilla, Australia, and near Madrid, Spain. Telecommunications with the spacecraft are routed to and from the Cassini mission operations area located in JPL's Space Flight Operations Facility.
Today, Cassini is traveling at about 97,900 kilometers per hour (about 60,200 miles per hour) and is more than 16 million kilometers (about 10 million miles) from Earth.
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.