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Cassini Fly-By of Phoebe successful!

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posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 11:47 AM
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(from JPL official release)

NASA's Deep Space Network received confirmation at 7:52 a.m. PDT today. First pictures after the flyby are expected later today.

One down, 52 to go," said Jeremy Jones, chief navigator for the Cassini-Huygens mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. During Cassini's planned four-year tour it will orbit Saturn 76 times and execute 52 close encounters with seven of Saturn's 31 known moons.

"Although this is the first flyby in the Saturn tour, it is the only opportunity to see Phoebe," said Dr. Dennis Matson, project scientist for the Cassini-Huygens mission. "This flyby is key to knowing more about the mysterious odd-ball, which has been the object of interest of many scientists."

"All previous indications suggest that it may be a captured Kuiper Belt object, one of the millions of asteroid-like bodies from outside the orbit of Pluto," said Dr. Bonnie Buratti, scientist on the Cassini-Huygens mission at JPL.

Cassini came within approximately 2,068 kilometers (about 1,285 miles) of the dark moon on Friday, June 11. The spacecraft was pointing its instruments at the moon during the flyby. Several hours later it turned to point its antenna to Earth. The signal was received through the Deep Space Network antennas in Madrid, Spain and Goldstone, in California's Mojave Desert. It was traveling at a relative speed of 20,900 kilometers per hour (13,000 miles per hour) relative to Saturn. It's been 23 years since we last visited Phoebe. The Voyager 2 flyby in 1981 was from 2.2 million kilometers, (about 1.4 million miles), 1,000 times further away.

Now, it's on the Saturn and the Orbital Insertion (SOI) on June 30th. If all goes well, Cassini will be the first man-made object to orbit the planet. After the Phoebe flyby, Cassini is on course for Saturn. A last trajectory correction maneuver is scheduled for June 16.

Re-printed with permission - JPL

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-Pandelirium
Moderator/Ops




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