Press Release

Cassini Mission Status

By SpaceRef Editor
December 20, 1999
Filed under





PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Cassini Mission Status

December 20, 1999

With its odometer marking some 2 billion kilometers (about
1.25 billion miles) of space travel, the Saturn-bound Cassini
spacecraft has just entered the solar system’s asteroid belt, the
seldom-traversed ring of small rocky bodies that exists between
Mars and Jupiter.

The Cassini flight team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., reports that the spacecraft remains in
excellent health and on track for its arrival at Saturn in July
2004. The mission is a joint effort of NASA, the European Space
Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Telecommunications with the
spacecraft are conducted through NASA’s Deep Space Network of
large, sensitive antennas located at stations in Spain, Australia
and California.

Cassini, launched Oct. 15, 1997, passed by Earth in late
August, using the pull of Earth’s gravity to boost the
spacecraft’s speed and direct it toward the outer planets on its
journey. Several of the spacecraft’s science instruments
recorded data during the Earth flyby, and preliminary results
were presented by investigators last week at the American
Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco.

The mission and science teams are busy preparing plans for
Cassini’s four-year orbital tour of Saturn. They are also
working on additional opportunities to make observations and test
out Cassini’s science instruments during the spacecraft’s flyby
of Jupiter on Dec. 30, 2000, from a distance of approximately 10
million kilometers (6.2 million miles).

Cassini, carrying 12 scientific experiments, will enter
orbit around the ringed planet in July 2004, and in November of
that year, release the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe to
descend to the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.


SpaceRef staff editor.