Engineers assessing Cassini spacecraft

Nov 05, 2010 By Jia-Rui C. Cook
Artist's concept of NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are working to understand what caused NASA's Cassini spacecraft to put itself into "safe mode," a precautionary standby mode. Cassini entered safe mode around 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Since going into , the spacecraft has performed as expected, suspending the flow of science data and sending back only data about engineering and spacecraft health. Cassini is programmed to put itself into safe mode automatically any time it detects a condition on the spacecraft that requires action from mission controllers on the ground.

Engineers say it is not likely that Cassini will be able to resume full operations before a planned Nov. 11 of Saturn's moon Titan. But Cassini has 53 more Titan flybys planned in its extended mission, which lasts until 2017.

"The spacecraft responded exactly as it should have, and I fully expect that we will get Cassini back up and running with no problems," said Bob Mitchell, Cassini program manager based at JPL. "Over the more than six years we have been at Saturn, this is only the second safing event. So considering the complexity of demands we have made on Cassini, the spacecraft has performed exceptionally well for us."

Since Cassini launched in 1997, Cassini has put itself into safe mode a total of six times.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of , the and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Explore further: NASA's Orion spacecraft back in Florida after test flight

Related Stories

Journey to Saturn From Your Computer

Feb 01, 2008

Want a peek at Saturn as seen from space? A new interactive 3-D viewer that uses a game engine and allows users to travel to Saturn and see it the way the Cassini spacecraft sees it is now online at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/CASSIE ...

Cassini Goes On

Aug 24, 2004

The Cassini spacecraft successfully completed a 51-minute engine burn that will raise its next closest approach distance to Saturn by nearly 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles). The maneuver was necessary to keep the spacec ...

Image: A Closer Look at Daphnis

Jul 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured the closest images of Saturn's moon Daphnis to date.

Cassini Gets Close-Up Views of Saturn's Moon Iapetus

Sep 12, 2007

Cassini completed its closest flyby of the odd moon Iapetus on Sept. 10, 2007. The spacecraft flew about 1,640 kilometers (1,000 miles) from Iapetus' surface and is returning amazing views of the bizarre moon. ...

NASA Salutes Successful Huygens Probe

Jan 15, 2005

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today offered congratulations to the European Space Agency (ESA) on the successful touchdown of its Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan. The probe entered Titan's upper atmosphere at ...

Recommended for you

Why is Venus so horrible?

1 hour ago

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

3 hours ago

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

4 hours ago

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

5 hours ago

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

flicktheswitch
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2010
No-one is going to make the obvious Microsoft joke?...
jjoensuu
not rated yet Nov 06, 2010
funny, I did think about asking if it is running Windows since it went into "safe mode"...
JES
not rated yet Nov 06, 2010
Wasn't -97 too early for Vista..?
Doug_Huffman
not rated yet Nov 06, 2010
Davideo Kaku and Mich Suzuki have run out of voodoo dolls and stickpins long since but their curses do have some marginal effect.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.