Cassini Significant Events 12/03/08 - 12/09/08
Title: Cassini Significant Events 12/03/08 -
The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired on Dec. 9 from the
Deep Space Network tracking complex at Canberra, Australia. The
Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and all
subsystems are operating normally. Information on the present position
and speed of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the "Present
Position" page at:
Wednesday, Dec. 3 (DOY 338):
A meeting was held today for the S46 Saturn/Tethys Live Inertial
Vector Propagator (IVP) update due to execute on DOY 343-345.
This will be a tight schedule with the Go/No Go meeting tomorrow,
command approval meeting on Friday, uplink of the commands on
Saturday, and execution beginning on Monday, Dec. 8.
Thursday, Dec. 4 (DOY 339):
Based on the pointing error predictions, Science Planning (SP)
recommended a GO for the live update of the Tethys vector. The
pointing error suggested that the Saturn vectors should also be
updated but it was not clear from the plots. After reviewing the
data, Imaging Science (ISS), the Visual and Infrared Mapping
Spectrometer (VIMS) and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS)
teams gave their GO for the update of both vectors. The team is
proceeding with the generation and review of the sequence file to be
A procedure review was held today for the propulsion system fuel-side
repressurization activity currently planned for early January 2009.
On Monday, a week long dry run will begin execution in the Integrated
Test Laboratory to confirm that commands perform as expected.
The final integrated S51 sequence segments for orbits 112-115 are due
today. They will be delivered in their final form as there is
not time for reintegration at a later date. The Science Operations
Plan (SOP) implementation process will begin Dec. 9 with instrument
teams beginning work on pointing designs for this sequence. In
addition, today is also the first delivery port for S50 Spacecraft
Activity Sequence Files as part of SOP development.
For science activities, today began with VIMS measurements of Saturn's
atmospheric dynamics in the south polar region. This was
followed by an ISS led Titan cloud monitoring campaign. The day
concluded with a Magnetometer Subsystem (MAG) calibration roll.
These calibrations are needed every 15-20 days in regions where field
conditions are suitable.
Friday, Dec. 5 (DOY 340):
Sixteen days after its previous flyby, and just over three days after
Saturn closest approach, Cassini flew past Titan for the T48 flyby.
The spacecraft was traveling at 6.3 km/sec, passing Titan at an
altitude of 960 km, latitude of 10.3 degrees S, and with closest
approach occurring at 7:44 AM PST. T48 was the twelfth in a
series of outbound encounters and the fourth Titan encounter in the
Cassini Equinox mission. T48 and T47 were unique flybys with low
phase and high resolution opportunities for the imaging
T48 was the only dayside pass near Titan's equator in the Prime and
Equinox Mission tours. For the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer
(INMS), this prime observation measured non-reactive neutrals while
simultaneously observing the dayside ionosphere. This flyby also gave
INMS coverage of the boundary between the outer flank and wake
magnetospheric interaction regions. Outbound, INMS collected
measurements from closest approach to the ionospheric peak and into
the transition from thermal to co-rotating particles.
For RADAR, T48 represented the end of a series of flybys that observed
territory that may be cryovolcanic. RADAR had the opportunity to look
at part of Tui Regio inbound. Previous VIMS observations
suggested that this region might resemble Hotei Arcus, with an
anomalous composition and possible cryolava flow morphologies. Near
closest approach, RADAR observed the dark dune fields of Shangri-La
while riding along on an INMS observation. Synthetic Aperture Radar
looked at a possible impact structure feature seen in ISS data in the
The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) conducted far-infrared limb
composition measurements, and mapped vertical distributions of CO,
CH4, and H2O. In addition, CIRS continued its campaign of mapping the
planet in the mid and far-infrared to obtain the spatial and temporal
variation of temperature as well as to measure the more abundant
hydrocarbon and nitrile molecules. These provide information on
possible seasonal changes in weather, climate, and chemistry.
ISS collected global and regional mosaics of Titan's leading
hemisphere, including a view of Hotei Arcus in its entirety, as well
as southern Xanadu and the western reaches of Tsegihi.
The Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument (MIMI) measured the Titan
exosphere and magnetosphere interaction by imaging with the Energetic
Neutral Atom camera. This is a component of the MIMI Ion
and Neutral Camera (INCA) that can be used when the sun is not in the
INCA field of view.
UVIS had its Far Ultraviolet Occultation slit boresight on the star
Epsilon CMa as Titan occulted the star. Over the course of the
mission, UVIS stellar occultations will sample about 12 latitudes.
This sampling will help constrain photochemistry, dynamics and aerosol
microphysical processes in the upper stratosphere and mesosphere.
For links to more information on this flyby, go to
Monday, Dec. 8 (DOY 343):
Over the weekend ISS performed nighttime imaging using the narrow
angle camera to monitor surface and atmosphere changes, and attempted
to see surface color variations and monitor limb hazes.
CIRS slewed across the disk and took mid-IR measurements to obtain
information on the thermal structure of Titan's stratosphere. CIRS
ended the day and began the Rings segment with an observation of the
rings designed to map the thermal emission at a variety of viewing
geometries to help understand ring particle properties and ring
Science Planning provided plots and analysis for the next live IVP
update on DOY 350-353, this time for Saturn and Rhea. Although
the pointing error was within margin, the pointing plot indicated that
the Rhea vector should be updated. For Saturn vectors, the
pointing error suggested an update, but the plots suggested
otherwise. Instrument recommendations will be necessary to make
the final determination in both cases. The Go/No Go
meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 9, with command
approval on Dec 11, and uplink on Dec. 12.
Tuesday, Dec. 9 (DOY 344):
Orbit Trim Maneuver (OTM) #176 was performed today. This was the
cleanup maneuver from the Titan 48 encounter on Dec. 5. The main
engine burn began at 1:44 PM PDT. Telemetry immediately after the
maneuver showed the burn duration was 18.225 seconds, giving a delta-V
of 3.032 m/s. All subsystems reported nominal performance after the
Today VIMS performed a ring spoke observation in the infrared. With
CIRS then leading the pointing, the optical remote sensing instruments
observed the Tethys eclipse and VIMS ended the day with a
high-resolution observation of the rings.
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