Cassini/Huygens deep-space manoeuvre completed
3 December 1998Cassini/Huygens successfully completed its long-planned 90-minute firing of its onboard rocket engine on 3 December, settingthe spacecraft on course for a second flyby of Venus in June - the next major milestone on the long voyage to Saturn.
The main rocket engine firing started at 07:06 Central European Time (10:06 p.m. Pacific time) on Thursday 3 December and ended at 08:36 CET (11:36 p.m. Pacific time).
The deep-space manoeuvre has reduced Cassini's speed by 450 metres per second, from 67860 km/h to 66240 km/h, adjusting the spacecraft's flight path relative to the orbit of Venus, in order to achieve the maximum velocity boost from Venus' gravity during the June flyby.
News from the Huygens Probe Operations Control at ESOC, Darmstadt
The Huygens ground controllers were monitoring the Cassini/Huygens activities and reported that the Probe was in good health. Claudio Sollazzo, the Huygens Mission Operations Manager reports that "the manoeuvre went as expected and Cassini/Huygens is now heading towards Venus. The Probe was used as the spacecraft sun-shield during the manoeuvre and experienced as expected a slight increase in temperature by a few degrees. After completion of the manoeuvre, the spacecraft was oriented back to its nominal HGA-to-Sun attitude and the Probe temperatures were back to nominal a few hours after completion of the manoeuvre".
The next Huygens activity is the third in-flight checkout that will be executed on 22 December.