Enceladus Flyby Underway

Amanda HendrixAmanda Hendrix, Cassini Scientist on the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (bio)

Well our flyby sequence has officially started!! Last night we began our observations of Enceladus! We are very distant, but getting closer all the time, over the northern hemisphere.  The first observation was a long stare at Enceladus, which is still pretty far away and small, but this is a nice opportunity to do compositional measurements. As of 9 a.m. Pacific, radar observation of Enceladus began, which will give us an idea of the roughness of this side of Enceladus, at centimeter scales.  The closest approach is around 1 p.m. Pacific today.

The entire flyby sequence is on-board the spacecraft, and there’s really no opportunity to change it at this point. We’re in it for good. However, the sequence gets thoroughly tested prior to uplink, so we are confident that things will go smoothly. The next time we hear from Cassini will be tonight after the flyby at around 7 p.m. Pacific.  We are being fairly cautious, though: even though Cassini will come about 30 miles of the surface, while flying through the plume we will be 120 miles from the surface. So we’re “dipping our toes” in the plume a little more than we’ve done before!

Cheers from Houston,
Amanda

15 thoughts on “Enceladus Flyby Underway”

  1. Hello! I.m very happy for conection with you because to much interesting. Thank.s
    From Esparreguera.Barcelona.Espa�a

  2. Hi!

    I’m getting news of the flyby from France. It’s really exciting!

    But I’d love to see some pictures of the planet getting bigger and bigger … :_)

    Good luck!

    Arthur Sauzay, Paris France

  3. This is all very, very exciting, and I hope the entire team gets results worthy of their hard work.

    I am curious, though, with such a close fly-by, are there any jitters over there being the kinds of miscalculations that have destroyed other spacecraft in the past? Surely that’s always a concern, but with such a close approach to the moon, I know I’d be more than a little bit nervous, given how long it took to get the probe to that particular neighborhood!

    Anyway, all the best! I look forward to reading about this operation’s total success.

  4. Following the events from Valencia, Spain, too!

    Cassini is now like Capt Ahab, hunting the white whale –but hoping this time they’ll get along better!

  5. Its past midnight, all the way from Bangalore India, proud of what you guys are doing, cant wait to see that Cassini made it thru, safe and sound. Look forward to the findings.. another proud American…

  6. What an extraordinary feat: I, and many other Americans ,still believe when tax dollars are spent in the name of science and human education all humanity can profit :

    “In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness”

    Carl Sagan

  7. Amanda, this is so exciting. I can’t hardly wait to see or hear of the results of the imagery…to see if there’s really a liquid ocean there.
    How can such a small satellite support the heat that’s apparently necessary? With the news from Wall St such a downer, this is really cool.
    Regards, Carl

  8. ::hi there…
    .
    stunning images i hope to see.
    also scientific results.
    .
    on my own concerned…u doing very well.
    .
    fly away!
    .
    best wishes…from down here in brazil
    .

  9. We are keeping our fingers crossed for you here in Sweden guys, Its exciting stuff, I have been waiting for this flyby for what seems like forever.
    The world waits and watches with you!

  10. Wheeee!!! I’m a space fanatic and this is the single moment (besides July 1st, 2004;)) that I’ve been waiting for!!! Too bad there’s nothing groundbreaking yet… but that computerized movie mad it look like Cassini was gonna crash into it!:) GO CASSINI!!!!!!!!!
    Bye.

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