CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Rev 61: Mar 7 - Mar 18 '08

Cassini's journey at Saturn continues with Rev 61, its 62nd orbit of the ringed planet. The spacecraft is set to perform an eagerly anticipated targeted flyby of Enceladus on March 12. Additional observations of Saturn's rings and small satellites are also planned.

Cassini begins Rev61, on March 7 at 13:05 UTC at its farthest distance from Saturn, called apoapsis. At this point, Cassini is 1.64 million km (1.02 million mi) from Saturn. Between March 7 and 10, the spacecraft performs observations of several of Saturn's small satellites. The observations are designed to study the orbits of these objects and how they might evolve over short time periods due to perturbations from the other satellites in the system. On March 9, Cassini's Imaging Science Subsystem will observe the outer B ring, focusing its narrow-angle camera on the right ansa. This 1.3-hour-long observation will allow scientists to study variations in the structure of ringlets in this region of the ring system.

Cassini performs an ultra-close, targeted encounter with Enceladus on March 12 at 19:06 UTC. The close approach point altitude is only about 50 km (31 mi)--the closest flyby of any world thus far in the Cassini mission. More information on this encounter is available within a very special Looking Ahead article, available here.

A couple of hours after Cassini encounters Enceladus, the spacecraft reaches periapse (the closest point in its orbit around Saturn) on March 12, when it is 229,000 km (142,000 mi) above Saturn's cloud tops. In the three days following periapse Cassini will observe Saturn's ring system once again, this time observing the Encke Gap--a division in the A ring carved by the small moon Pan--on March 14, and the F ring on March 15. Cassini finishes Rev61 with two small satellite orbital determination sequences.

Cassini begins orbit 63, Rev62, on March 18. Rev62 includes a flyby of Titan.

Image products created in Celestia.