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Getting Into Orbit Around Saturn

Placing a spacecraft into orbit around a ringed gas giant planet over a billion kilometers away involves a variety of events. This page offers a close view of all the operations seen on Earth during the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) on July 1, 2004 Universal Time (UTC).

The SOI timeline is shown in the large image below. The top section, with the graphic showing Saturn, its ring plane, and the spacecraft arcing through it, has events marked in Spacecraft Event Time (SCET). The lower section shows ground events marked in Earth Receive Time (ERT) and Transmission Time (TRM). At the time of SOI, the difference between SCET and ERT was one hour and twenty-four minutes. Look here for further information about time notations.

Viewing Suggestions: Enlarge your browser window left to right, and scroll down, to display on your screen as much as possible of the large timeline image below. Each time you click on part of the timeline, information will be displayed in a new window. You might wish to re-size the information window to be smaller, and place it on your screen where it won't interfere too much with the main timeline image.





CLICK ON ANY MARKED EVENT OR ABBREVIATION TO SEE A FULL EXPLANATION.
To start your guided tour of the SOI timeline, click the big red arrow at lower left.