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Cassini Significant Events 11/29/17 – 1/2/18

Enceladus and Saturn's rings
Saturn's moon Enceladus drifts before the rings, which glow brightly in the sunlight. Beneath its icy exterior shell, Enceladus hides a global ocean of liquid water. Just visible at the moon's south pole (at bottom here) is the plume of water ice particles and other material that constantly spews from that ocean via fractures in the ice.. › Full image and caption

Cassini amassed an enormous trove of scientific data during its nearly constant observations of Saturn, its moons, rings, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Stunning discoveries often made headlines up through the mission's end in mid-September last year. Additional discoveries and deeper understandings of the Saturn system and our cosmic environs will likely continue for decades to come. In fact, there are many results from Cassini's Grand Finale that are in line to be published this year, in press releases and in conference proceedings, and which are likely to appear widely in the popular media as well.

Wednesday, Nov. 29

The mission-closeout working group conducted another one of its regular meetings today. Products under development include the Cassini Final Mission Report, a selection of Lessons Learned, and the permanent archives of science and non-science data.

Friday, Dec. 1

Today the Deputy Project Scientist supported a Cassini exhibit for JPL's Office of Legislative and Governmental Affairs at the Caltech Athenaeum in Pasadena. The event hosted staff from the offices of representatives of both local and national government.

Monday, Dec. 11

The five-day American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting began today in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cassini was honored with a Union Session, which took place in a large venue, so that colleagues from diverse geophysical science backgrounds could be involved, as each of Cassini's instrument teams focused on their key science results from the Grand Finale. In addition, Cassini was granted several individual sessions targeting Saturn’s atmosphere and interior, its planet-like moon Titan, its active moon Enceladus, the other icy satellites, Saturn's magnetic field, and plasma phenomena.

Wednesday, Dec. 13

Storms that result from oscillations in the mid-altitude layers of Saturn's atmosphere are the subject of today's news feature:


Wednesday, Dec. 20

A JPL artist created a fine Cassini greeting for the holidays:


Thursday, Dec. 21

Saturn reached superior conjunction today, as Earth and Saturn lined up on opposite sides of our central star. Today also happened to be Earth's solstice, marking the start of northern winter.

Friday, Dec. 22

An article appeared today in the journal Science, written by an AAAS staff writer, on the findings reported during last week's AGU meeting. "Saturn's Rings Are Solar System Newcomers" describes lines of evidence from Cassini, including the gravitational measurements made late in the mission, that the planet's vast ring system probably does not date back to the primordial formation of the planets.

While orbiting the Sun during its cruise to Saturn, some of Cassini's instruments were commanded to jettison the aperture covers that had protected them during ground handling and launch. These small covers, the surviving parts of Cassini, are still orbiting the Sun. This article focuses on the aperture cover that Cassini's Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) instrument let go of in 1997:


Monday, Dec. 25

A unique view of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus was featured today:


Monday, Jan. 1

Many of Cassini's team members were able to enjoy some significant time off during the holidays, given that there are no longer any in-flight operations, which used to demand constant attention.

Wrap up:

The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission operations on Sept. 15, 2017. Cassini Significant Events reports are now being published near the beginning of each month. This page offers all the details of the Mission's ending: