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Cassini Significant Events 11/06/2013 – 11/12/2013

Cassini is orbiting Saturn with a 47.9-day period in a plane inclined 49.7 degrees from the planet's equatorial plane. The most recent spacecraft tracking, telemetry, and radio science data were obtained on Nov. 12 using the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) station at Canberra, Australia. Except for the science instrument issues described in previous reports (for more information search the Cassini website for CAPS and USO), the spacecraft continues to be in an excellent state of health with all of its subsystems operating normally. Information on the present position of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the "Present Position" page at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/presentposition/.

Cassini remained Earth-pointed during the remainder of superior conjunction, using its small rocket thrusters to maintain attitude control. The Magnetospheric and Plasma Science (MAPS) instruments collected data while the magnetotail crossing continued, and the Radio Science team collected data to study the solar corona using the spacecraft's radio link with Earth.

Wednesday, Nov. 6 (DOY 310)

This afternoon the angle between Cassini and the Sun as viewed from Earth reached its minimum of 2.2 degrees while the 70-meter diameter Deep Space Network (DSN) station in California was tracking.

The Sun's effect on the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan was the subject of a news feature released today: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/cassinifeatures/feature20131106

Thursday, Nov. 7 (DOY 311)

Cassini passed through apoapsis in its Saturnian orbit today, having coasted "up" 3.87 million kilometers from Saturn, which is farther out than the orbit of Iapetus, while slowing to 7,778 kilometers per hour relative to the planet. This marked the start of orbit #199. The spacecraft will whip through periapsis at triple that speed on Dec. 1.

Friday, Nov. 8 (DOY 312)

Today marked the start of the Cassini Realtime Operations team working from its new home in JPL's publicly viewable Space Flight Operations Facility Mission Control "darkroom." Ever since shortly after launch in 1997, Cassini's realtime mission control operations have been carried out from a dedicated support area on the third floor of the facility, largely removed from the public eye. The associated DSN support was from one of the 34-meter diameter stations in Australia. It carried out commanding and radiometric tracking, and captured telemetry and radio science data for the Superior Conjunction Experiment (SCE), which observed at X-band (8 GHz) and Ka-band (32 GHZ) radio frequencies.

Saturday, Nov. 9 (DOY 313)

As Saturn carried its orbiter further past the Sun into Earth's morning sky, commands for the Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystem in Cassini's S81 background sequence transitioned the spacecraft from thruster control back to reaction-wheel control. Optical remote sensing then began with a 37-hour observation by the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) of the irregular moon Skoll. This recently discovered object is about six kilometers in diameter; its retrograde orbit takes it more than seventeen million kilometers from Saturn.

Sunday, Nov. 10 (DOY 314)

The Radio Science team employed the 70-meter diameter DSN antenna in Australia today, capturing data for the SCE at X-band and S-band (2 GHz) amid routine communications. In all there were four periods of DSN support this week.

Monday, Nov. 11 (DOY 315)

ISS, the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) began a 37-hour series of observations intended to search for periodicities of the dynamic ring spokes (see http://go.usa.gov/4WGP). ISS's data will be combined to create a movie.

Saturn's ever-changing F ring was the subject of an image featured today: /resources/15914

Tuesday, Nov. 12 (DOY 316)

Quite possibly some of the most remarkable space-imaging products ever created were released today from the Cassini Program. After nearly four months of calibrating and processing the data acquired from within Saturn's shadow on July 19, stunning views from behind the ringed planet were made public, even spanning five columns on the New York Times front page. They may be seen here: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/newsreleases/newsrelease20131112