Cassini Completes Second Trajectory Adjustment
March 3, 1998
The Cassini spacecraft successfully performed the second scheduled trajectory adjustment of its mission last week, fine-tuning its flight path in preparation for its flyby of Venus on April 26. The trajectory adjustment needed was so minor that the maneuver was performed using Cassini's small hydrazine thrusters instead of the spacecraft's large main engine. Engineering data recorded during the thruster firing confirmed that the maneuver went as planned, with all spacecraft and ground components performing perfectly. A final trajectory adjustment prior to the Venus flyby is scheduled in early April.
Cassini remains in excellent health, flying at a speed relative to the Sun of approximately 137,000 kilometers per hour (about 85,000 miles per hour). It is slowly gaining speed as it feels the tug of gravity from Venus. The spacecraft will gain a significant boost in speed when it swings around Venus next month. Cassini has traveled approximately 362 million kilometers (about 224 million miles) since launch on October 15, 1997.
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.