News From Saturn
Hi and welcome to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
My name is Todd Barber, lead propulsion engineer on the Cassini mission to Saturn, here with the latest news from the ringed planet.
As Cassini heads into the last few months of its four-year prime mission, the spacecraft continues its campaign to "crank up" orbital inclination using a slew of close Titan flybys. Part of this delicate orbital ballet required Cassini's largest rocket firing in nearly three-and-a-half years!
This burn clocked out successfully on Feb. 5th, exacly one month after our most recent Titan flyby. This low-altitude Titan pass focused largely on infrared temperature mapping of the surface and atmosphere, the search for stratospheric oxygen compounds, and high-resolution spectral mapping around the Huygens landing site.
The ultraviolet camera studied Titan's atmosphere, while the visible-light camera literally worked day and night, with dayside mapping and nighttime searches for Titan aurora and lightning.
The spacecraft has also been busy with other observations, including wonderful radio science. All three radio frequency bands were used to probe the gamut of Saturn's ring features.
Scientists can determine fine ring particle structure by the blocking, or attenuation, of Cassini's downlink radio signal. The radio science team spotted orderly lines of evenly spaced icy boulders within the rings, yet another surprising result from Saturn.
Next up for Cassini is another Titan flyby on February 22nd. The team is eagerly anticipating it, since it will include radar imagery of the Huygens landing site.
Our ultraviolet camera will also investigate Titan's atmosphere during an outbound stellar occultation.
With your latest news from Cassini and Saturn, I'm Todd Barber with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.