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Burn ignition!
Mission control erupts in applause as communications from Cassini confirm the orbit insertion burn has begun. (60sec file)
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Burn completed
Signals from Cassini announce the conclusion of the Saturn orbit insertion burn, confirming the spacecraft has arrived at the ringed planet. (2min 15sec file)
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Post-arrival briefing
Mission officials hold a post-orbit insertion burn news conference at 1 a.m. EDT July 1 to discuss Cassini's successful arrival at Saturn. (25min 27sec file)
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Wednesday's status briefing
Cassini's health in the final hours before arrival at Saturn is presented in this status briefing from 12 p.m. EDT on June 30. (33min 09sec file)
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International cooperation
Officials from the U.S., European and Italian space agencies discuss the international cooperation in the Cassini mission and future exploration projects during this news conference from 2 p.m. EDT June 30. (19min 35sec file)
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'Ring-side' chat
This informal "ring-side chat" from 5 p.m. EDT June 30 discusses the Cassini mission to Saturn and the future of space exploration. (49min 20sec file)
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Cassini update
Mission managers and scientists provide an update on the Cassini mission and preview the spacecraft's arrival at Saturn during this news conference from June 29. (51min 58sec file)
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Phoebe science briefing
Scientists report scientific results from the Cassini spacecraft's close-up examination of Saturn's moon Phoebe. (31min 53sec file)
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Phoebe flyby preview
This animation shows Cassini during its encounter with the tiny moon Phoebe on the route to Saturn. (42sec file)
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Cassini preview
The Cassini spacecraft's arrival at Saturn is previewed in this detailed news conference from NASA Headquarters on June 3. (50min 01sec file)
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Saturn arrival explained
Cassini's make-or-break engine firing to enter orbit around Saturn is explained with graphics and animation. Expert narration is provided by Cassini program manager Robert Mitchell. (3min 33sec file)
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Cassini mission science
The scientific objectives of the Cassini mission to study the planet Saturn, its rings and moons are explained by Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (4min 54sec file)
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Huygens mission science
After entering orbit around Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft will launch the European Huygens probe to make a parachute landing on the surface of the moon Titan. The scientific objectives of Huygens are explained by probe project manager Jean-Pierre Lebreton. (3min 14sec file)
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Reading tale of ions in Saturn's magnetosphere
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND NEWS RELEASE
Posted: July 2, 2004

The Cassini spacecraft has barely begun its four-year tour around Saturn, but already a University of Maryland sensor is beginning to reveal new data about the immense magnetosphere of the ringed planet.

Designed and built by scientists in the University of Maryland's space physics group, the CHEMS (CHarge Energy Mass Spectrometer) sensor measures ions -- positively charged atoms -- in Saturn's magnetosphere. A planet's magnetosphere is the magnetic field and charged particle environment that surrounds it. The magnetosphere traps ions produced in and around a planet. And it shields a planet from, and interacts with, the solar wind - the high-speed stream of ionized particles flowing out in all directions from the Sun.

"By determining the elemental composition and charge state of the ions within and around Saturn's magnetosphere, CHEMS will identify the sources of the plasma found there and study the processes of plasma acceleration," says Douglas C. Hamilton, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland and leader of the space physics team that designed and built the CHEMS sensor.

"CHEMS has already yielded data indicating the plasma in Saturn's magnetosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and oxygen ions and molecular ions derived from water," says Hamilton. "This suggests that the plasma probably comes from the surfaces of Saturn's icy moons and rings, and not from the atmosphere of Titan, which consists primarily of nitrogen."

Plasmas are the most common form of matter, comprising more than 99 percent of the known visible universe including the Sun and other stars. These ionized gases generate and interact with magnetic and electric fields around planets, stars and other astrophysical environments. Plasma processes can accelerate some ions to incredible energies. Cosmic rays -- which are some of the highest energy plasma particles -- contain "signatures" of the birth and death of stars. Observing the properties of space plasmas and energetic particles provides scientists a rich source of information about the physical processes that energize these materials and the conditions that exist at the sites where this energizing takes place.

Magnetospheric Imaging
Maryland's CHEMS is one of three sensors that make up the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument, MIMI, aboard NASA's Cassini-Huygens spacecraft. MIMI is one of 12 science instruments on the main Cassini spacecraft and one of six instruments designed primarily to investigate the space environments around Saturn and its satellites. The Huygens probe, which has six instruments of its own, will investigate Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with its own atmosphere.

MIMI and its science team are led by Stamatios (Tom) M. Krimigis, head of the space department of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Using MIMI, Krimigis, Hamilton and other members of the international MIMI team will profile the plasma environment of charged particles around Saturn and provide the first visible, global images of Saturn's magnetosphere. Gaining a better understanding of Saturn's magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and solar storms promises to also help scientists better understand space weather and its interaction with the magnetosphere of our own planet.

MIMI's sensors combine three critical measurements to create that picture. In addition to Maryland's CHEMS, there is the higher-energy particle detector LEMMS, primarily developed by the Max Planck Institute at Lindau, Germany, that looks at the distribution and strength of energetic ions and electrons near the spacecraft. MIMI's ion and neutral camera, or INCA, uses an APL-developed technique known as energetic neutral atom imaging to provide a global view of the entire magnetosphere - a deep-space mission first. All of MIMI's sensors are linked together by a central computer.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

UM Group Leads Space Physics Research
The University of Maryland space physics group specializes in measurements of space plasmas and of suprathermal and energetic ions found in solar, planetary, and interplanetary environments. The work for which the group is internationally recognized includes studies of the composition and ionization states of the solar wind, solar energetic particles, and interstellar neutral atoms which have been "picked up" in the solar wind. This work, carried on at Maryland since the late 1960s, has given key insights into solar energetic particle acceleration and conditions in the solar atmosphere.

Other work has provided fundamental information about the energizing of particles by traveling interplanetary shocks and such diverse topics as the origin of oxygen and sulfur ions in Jupiter's magnetosphere from the volcanoes on the moon Io and the composition and energy content of the Earth's radiation belts.

The plasma and energetic particle observations carried out by the Space Physics Group require novel instrumentation carried on Earth-orbiting satellites and deep-space probes. Instruments are designed and constructed on campus by the group's technical staff, with participation by graduate as well as undergraduate students.

Experiments built by the group are currently operating on 13 spacecraft, including Cassini. Other missions carrying the group's sensors include the Voyager deep-space probes, the Ulysses probe to the solar poles and near-Earth missions such as Geotail, the Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX), WIND, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE).

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: WATCH FRIDAY'S SCIENCE NEWS CONFERENCE QT

VIDEO: THURSDAY'S NEWS BRIEFING ON CASSINI'S FIRST PICTURES QT
VIDEO: RING PICTURES ARE PRESENTED WITH EXPERT NARRATION QT
VIDEO: CASSINI RE-DISCOVERS TINY MOONS ATLAS AND PAN QT
VIDEO: CASSINI BOOMING SOUNDS FROM BOW-SHOCK CROSSING QT

VIDEO: CASSINI BEGINS ENGINE FIRING TO ENTER ORBIT QT
VIDEO: BURN ENDS SUCCESSFULLY TO PUT CASSINI IN ORBIT QT
VIDEO: POST-ARRIVAL NEWS CONFERENCE QT

VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S 12 P.M. EDT CASSINI STATUS BRIEFING QT
VIDEO: A LOOK AT INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION QT
VIDEO: 'RING-SIDE CHAT' ABOUT SPACE EXPLORATION QT
VIDEO: AN OVERVIEW OF CASSINI'S RADIO SCIENCE QT

VIDEO: TUESDAY'S CASSINI MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING QT
VIDEO: CASSINI'S ARRIVAL AT SATURN EXPLAINED QT
VIDEO: SCIENCE OBJECTIVES FOR CASSINI ORBITER QT
VIDEO: HUYGENS LANDER SCIENCE OBJECTIVES QT
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