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Cassini Significant Events 1/31/18 – 2/27/18

Cassini scientists continue to work hard at analyzing data from all phases of the Mission and, in particular, from the Ring Grazing and Grand Finale phases. Many of their results will be unveiled at science conferences coming up throughout this year, and in journals such as Science, and Geophysical Research Letters. Late this month the science team wrapped up plans for the next Cassini Project Science Group meeting, which will be held in Rome next month. Meanwhile, work proceeds on closeout of the project, which includes ensuring proper archiving of the data, creating a Final Mission Report, and dismantling and recycling the Mission's remaining ground-system components.

Wednesday Jan. 31

JPL made headlines 60 years ago today, with the successful launch of America's first Earth-orbiting spacecraft aboard a Jupiter-C rocket: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180131.html.

Monday Feb. 5

Cassini's view of two of Saturn's moons in 2009 was featured today: /resources/17820.

Thursday Feb. 8

The Cassini Realtime Operations Manager gave a presentation about the Cassini-Huygens Mission to attendees of the Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

Monday Feb. 12

With the ring system nearly edge-on in the background, Saturn's active moon Enceladus is seen with its constantly erupting southern geysers. This 2009 image was featured today on the Cassini website, and it was also chosen as NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on the following Thursday. Here is the image: /resources/17821.

Thursday Feb. 15

Each year, the Cassini science team selects the previous year's "top 10" images. For 2017, though, there were 21 top images announced today: https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/top-tens/images

The Cassini Mission's final images were taken of Saturn's night side, just before the spacecraft arced over the northern latitudes towards its atmospheric entry and destruction on the day side last September. The images have been fully processed now and were presented in an extraordinary mosaic today: /resources/17822. Of note, the most prominent feature is a very dark equatorial band. That's where there is little or no ring-light (sunlight reflecting off the rings) to brighten the night. The vast rings are so thin -- only tens of meters -- that they would be invisible from the equator, so they reflect little if any sunlight onto that region. Some strands of the C ring are visible in the lower left.

Wednesday Feb. 21

The three-day, bi-annual Outer Planet Assessment Group meeting and Technology Forum began today. It was held in Hampton, Virginia. At this meeting, the outer planet science community heard status briefings on past missions (e.g. Cassini at Saturn), present missions (e.g. Juno at Jupiter), and future missions (e.g. the Europa Clipper to Jupiter). The OPAG community discussions focused on the direction of NASA's outer planet missions in the context of the current Planetary Science Decadal Survey, in addition to discussing the needs of the outer planet community to prepare for the next Decadal Survey. The last day was dedicated to a Technology Forum, which provided valuable information on the status of technologies available for future missions. Both Cassini's Project Scientist and Deputy Project Scientist are members of the OPAG steering committee.

Tuesday Feb. 27

A member of the Realtime Operations team gave a talk about Cassini to 130 tech enthusiasts at the Hackaday Collaborative Development Community in Pasadena this evening.

Wrap up:

The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission operations on Sep. 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: https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/overview.