After 20 years in orbit, the Cassini Spacecraft is now able to launch the final step of its discovery. The Cassini would start out on a daring set of orbits, equivalent to a new mission. The Cassini will launch a sequence of 22 weeks of diving between Saturn and the rings. Final step research can continue to improve understanding of how giant planets and their systems are created, as well as their evolution.
The Cassini Spacecraft Mission is a joint effort between NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. The Spacecraft will fly to explore a region of the Saturnian system, generating unique images and to help solve enduring mysteries like the mass of Saturn’s rings and the rate of the planet’s rotation (Mitchell 61). The memo is a highlight the scientific investigations that will be performed in this final phase. Through this communication, all teams are notified of the planned orbit activity for the Cassini to support ongoing studies.
The final phase of the Cassini Spacecraft
Figure 1 showing planet Saturn and its rings
Orbit 271 of the final phase starts after a final close flyby of Titan that will send the Cassini on its initial plunge through between the planet Saturn and its rings. Before the periapse, the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer of the spacecraft will capture images that will show a video of the north polar region of the planet which has been remotely captured (Mitchell 62).
In orbit 272, the Cassini will roll to adjust its magnetometer for high-intensity observation when it is nearest to Saturn. During the 273rd orbit exploration, the radio instrument of the Spacecraft will conduct the gravity field measurements by use of Dopper shift to explore the inside of the planet (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). It is expected that during the 274 orbit, the visible-light camera of the Cassini, the Imaging Science Subsystems will observe the features of the most prominent ring of the Saturn (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). The 276th orbit is the most suitable for the Cassini to perform radio occultation of the Planet’s rings and study its unknown gravitational field.
It is in the 277th orbit that the imaging cameras will take the images of the perimeter of the A ring and the F ring, as well as the space between these rings to investigate their structure and interaction. In orbit 278, the Cassini will scan the across the key rings at an angle almost 90º (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). In the 279th orbit, the Cassini will conduct the fourth of the six radio occultations of Saturn’s ring system and will study in detail its gravitational field (Mitchell 62). In the 280th orbit investigation, the Cassini through the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph will observe the northern aurora of Saturn.
In orbit 281, the Moon Dione will be observed for a better understanding of the moon’s temperature, its material composition, and structure (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). During the 282nd orbit exploration, the perimeter of Saturn’s atmosphere will be investigated to understand how the sunlight affects the upper atmosphere of Saturn (Daily, and Val 1). In the 283rd orbit, the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrum stares at the Kappa Cania Majoris as the parts of A-ring and C-ring pass between the spacecraft and the Kappa Cania Majoris (Daily, and Val 1).
In the 284th orbit, the Composite Infrared Spectrometer will observe the lit side of the A ring that in the establishment of its structure and composition. It is also in this orbit that the Cassini using the Radio Science Subsystem will conduct its final science observations of the exploration (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). In the 285th orbit, the imaging cameras will observe Saturn’s moon for two periods to image its atmosphere and its surface (Daily, and Val 1). The 286th orbit involves a long observation of the northern aurora will be made at an unusually close range giving the highest resolution images of the whole exploration (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). It is in the 287th orbit that the Planet’s north aurora will be observed, trying to capture several auroral oval over a number of observations.
In orbit 288, the Composite Infrared Spectrometer observes Saturn’s perimeter to determine the different temperatures at diverse altitudes. The 289th orbit will have the Cassini observe the northern aurora, the temperatures in the south polar vortex of the Saturn. In the 290th orbit, the Composite Infrared Spectrometer maps the northern hemisphere to investigate the temperature in the higher troposphere while the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer maps the equatorial area of the Planet Saturn (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). The imaging cameras of the Cassini will observe haze in the planet’s moon and the Planet’s sunlit north polar auroral area. In the 292nd orbit, the amount of helium in the Planet’s atmosphere will be determined (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology 1). The 293rd orbit is the last on schedule. Three hours from the Spacecraft’s expected completion of the mission, all collected data will be transmitted to the earth seconds after each observation.
The final phase of the Cassini Spacecraft observation of the planet Saturn will have 21 orbits. Each orbit covers different regions of Saturn and its rings with respective images being captured for transmission upon completion of the mission. All employees are requested to provide the required moral and technical support to our team both on earth and in the Cassini.
Daily, Galaxy, and Val Landi. “Nasa’s Cassini Mission Grand Finale at Saturn Join Live at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab (today’s ‘galaxy’ Stream).” The Daily Galaxy. (2017): 2017-6. Print.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. “Cassini the grand finale. Orbit Guide.” (n.d): 1 https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/grand-finale-orbit-guide/
Mitchell, Robert T. “The Cassini Mission Exploring Saturn.” Acta Astronautica. 63 (2008): 61-67. Print.