Venus flyby successfully completed
25 June 1999Cassini-Huygens successfully completed its second flyby of the planet Venus late last night.As planned, Cassini-Huygens flew by Venus at about 600 km altitude above the surface at 22:30 CET on 24 June, with Venus' gravity giving the spacecraft a boost in speed to help it reach Saturn more than 1 billion kilometres away.
Several of the Cassini Orbiter scientific instruments were briefly switched on to make observations during the Venus flyby. Scientific data from the flyby will be transmitted to Earth over the coming days.
Huygens remained switched OFF during the flyby. Its internal temperatures were monitored through the Orbiter telemetry at the Huygens Probe Operations Control Centre at ESOC and all remained nominal.
Four flybys of planets - two of Venus and one each of Earth and Jupiter - give the spacecraft the speed it needs to reach Saturn and Titan. Cassini/Huygens first flew past Venus on 26 April 1998 at a distance of 284 kilometres. Yesterday's Venus flyby will be followed by a flyby of Earth on 18 August, which will put it on course for a Jupiter flyby on 30 December 2000. The giant planet's gravity will bend Cassini/Huygens' flight path to put it on course for arrival into orbit around Saturn on 1 July 2004.