Status Report

NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission Status Report 23 Aug 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
August 23, 2004
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NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission Status Report 23 Aug 2004

The Cassini spacecraft successfully completed a 51-minute engine burn
that will raise its next closest approach distance to Saturn by nearly
300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles). The maneuver was necessary
to keep the spacecraft from passing through the rings and to put it on
target for its first close encounter with Saturn’s moon Titan on Oct.

Mission controllers received confirmation of a successful burn at
11:15 a.m. Pacific Time today. The spacecraft is approaching the
highest point in its first and largest orbit about Saturn. Its
distance from the center of Saturn is about 9 million kilometers (5.6
million miles), and its speed just prior to today’s burn was 325
meters per second (727 miles per hour) relative to Saturn. That
means it is nearly at a standstill compared to its speed of about
30,000 meters per second (67,000 miles per hour) at the completion of
its orbit insertion burn on June 30.

“Saturn orbit insertion got us into orbit and this maneuver sets us up
for the tour,” said Joel Signorelli, spacecraft system engineer for
the Cassini-Huygens mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif.

The maneuver was the third longest engine burn for the Cassini
spacecraft and the last planned pressurized burn in the four-year
tour. The Saturn obit insertion burn was 97 minutes long, and
the deep space maneuver in Dec. 1998 was 88 minutes long.

“The October 26 Titan encounter will be much closer than our last
one. We’ll fly by Titan at an altitude of 1,200 kilometers (746
miles), ‘dipping our toe’ into its atmosphere,” said Signorelli.
Cassini’s first Titan flyby on July 2 was from 340,000 kilometers
(211,000 miles) away.

Over the next four years, the Cassini orbiter will execute 45 Titan
flybys as close as approximately 950 kilometers (590 miles) from the
moon. In January 2005, the European-built Huygens probe that is
attached to Cassini will descend through Titan’s atmosphere to the

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the
European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Science
Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled
the Cassini orbiter.

For the latest images and more information about the Cassini-Huygens
mission, visit and

SpaceRef staff editor.