Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cassini Space Probe Passes Through Asteroid Belt On Way To Saturn

Date:
April 17, 2000
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft, currently en route to Saturn, has successfully completed its passage through our solar system's asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft, currently en route to Saturn, has successfully completed its passage through our solar system's asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

This makes Cassini the seventh spacecraft ever to fly through the asteroid belt. Before NASA's Pioneer 10 spacecraft successfully passed through the region in 1972, it was not known whether a spacecraft could survive the trip.

The belt contains a significant concentration of asteroids. Nonetheless, the area is not considered a hazard to spacecraft. Engineers did not make any adjustments to Cassini as it passed through the region, except the spacecraft's cosmic dust analyzer was reoriented whenever possible to better study the environment. A cover over Cassini's main engines has been in place at all times since launch except when main engine firings were performed. The cover protects the engines from any possible impacts.

"I'm glad we've passed through it, but it's pretty routine. There's a lot of material in the belt, but there's also an awful lot of space out there," said Cassini Project Manager Bob Mitchell at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The spacecraft entered the belt in mid-December and while it was in the area, Cassini's camera imaged the asteroid 2685 Masursky. Data gathered provided scientists with the first size estimates on the asteroid and preliminary evidence that it may have different material properties than previously believed.

Cassini remains in excellent health as it continues its seven-year-long journey to Saturn. Launched October 15, 1997, Cassini has already flown by Venus and Earth before heading toward a flyby of Jupiter on December 30, 2000. The giant planet's gravity will bend Cassini's flight path to put it on course for arrival into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004.

Cassini's mission is to study Saturn, its moons, its rings, and its magnetic and radiation environment for four years. Cassini will also deliver the European Space Agency's Huygens probe to parachute to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan on November 30, 2004. Titan is of special interest partly because of its many Earth-like characteristics, including a mostly nitrogen atmosphere and the presence of organic molecules in the atmosphere and on its surface. Lakes or seas of ethane and methane may exist on its surface.

The mission is a joint endeavor of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Cassini orbiter, built by NASA, and the Huygens probe, provided by the European Space Agency (ESA), were mated together and launched as a single package from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Cassini's dish-shaped high-gain antenna was provided for the mission by the Italian Space Agency.

The mission is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology. More information about the Cassini mission is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini Space Probe Passes Through Asteroid Belt On Way To Saturn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000417094917.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2000, April 17). Cassini Space Probe Passes Through Asteroid Belt On Way To Saturn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000417094917.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini Space Probe Passes Through Asteroid Belt On Way To Saturn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000417094917.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins