On Target for First Venus Flyby
April 3, 1998
The Cassini spacecraft remains on track for its flyby of Venus on April 26, which due to the effects of Venus' gravity, will give the spacecraft a 26,280 kilometer-per-hour boost (16,330 mile-per-hour) in speed. Cassini's navigators have determined that the spacecraft is already so accurately targeted for its 284-kilometer altitude swingby of Venus that a scheduled fine-tuning maneuver is unnecessary and has been cancelled.
Cassini is feeling the Sun's gravitational tug since the spacecraft last week reached its perihelion, or closest point to the Sun, and is now flying in outbound direction. The spacecraft is traveling at a speed of approximately 143,000 kilometers per hour (about 89,000 miles per hour) relative to the Sun, and has traveled approximately 464 million kilometers (about 288 million miles) since launch on October 15, 1997.
Over the past week, Cassini began transmitting previously- recorded data from last week's engineering checkout of the European Space Agency's Huygens probe. This health-check of Huygens occurs every six months. The data are forwarded to the Huygens team in Europe for analysis. The remainder of the engineering checkout data from Huygens is scheduled to be transmitted from the spacecraft next week.
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.