John Spencer, Cassini Scientist on the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (bio)
Yeah! We made it! I wasn’t too worried about the plume passage, as I wrote yesterday, but it was still wonderful to hear last night that Cassini had contacted Earth and was sending home its precious cargo of Enceladus data. Not only did we survive, which was never much in doubt, but the spacecraft was healthy and the data were looking good. This morning, the beautiful images of Enceladus posted on the Cassini raw image Web site provided further confirmation that things had gone well. And there was more welcome news from the folks at Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland, where our Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument was built and is operated. The CIRS data have been collected from the Deep Space Network, compiled at JPL, transferred to Goddard, and everything looks as expected. The data are now going through the time-consuming calibration process, converting the raw bits into spectra that will reveal some of the secrets of the active south polar region. We should be able to transfer the calibrated data to Boulder and start work on it in an hour or two–I can’t wait!