Cassini’s End of Mission Schedule

A lot happened during the week of Cassini’s End of Mission on 9/15. Here’s the rundown of events and things to watch! (Of course after the fact since as you’re reading this the Cassini spacecraft is no more…)

The spacecraft’s final moments on Friday 9/15:

  • 1:37am PT: spacecraft configures for real-time data relay to Earth
  • 4:53am PT: spacecraft atmospheric entry begins, thrusters at 10% capacity
  • 4:54am PT: loss of signal at Earth, thrusters at 100% capacity and can no longer hold high-gain antenna pointed toward Earth; exact timing will very depending on Saturn’s atmosphere; Cassini spacecraft destruction will happen soon after this loss of signal

Cassini's final dive

Events on NASA TV, NASA/JPL’s YouTube channel and NASA’s main YouTube channel:

  • Wednesday 9/13 10am PT: Grand Finale pre-briefing
  • Thursday 9/14 1-2pm PT: Cassini Grand Finale NASA Social (w/ social media influencers)
  • Friday 9/15 4am PT: Grand Finale live commentary (90 minutes)
  • *Loss of signal from Cassini Spacecraft in Saturn’s atmosphere = ~4:54am PT*
  • Friday 9/15 6:30am PT: post-mission news briefing

Other TV airings:

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Platinum achieved! After 2 and a half playthroughs, plus random trophy cleanup, I have 100%’d Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. I’ve played all of the other Uncharted games, but this is the first platinum I went for. With it’s shorter playtime, this seemed like much more manageable a feat. I played through the first time on Normal difficulty enjoying the story and basking in the environmental beauty. The game was a solid, fun Uncharted game. Next, I played through on Crushing, and that was a doozy. I’m also a crazy person and I completely forgot to turn on unlimited ammo and other gun unlocking cheats that you get after beating the game once. Whoops. Can I get another trophy for beating it on Crushing without any cheats please?!

My opinion: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a strong, yet short addition to the Uncharted family. Chloe and Nadine had a likeable relationship, the puzzles were challenging (albeit sometimes annoying), the environments were as beautiful as ever with some pretty sweet action set pieces, and some good old fashioned shooty/stealth gameplay. Solid thumbs up in my book, and I greatly appreciate a game I can get through in 7 hours (or 15 to platinum!).

Don’t Rain on My Solar Arrays

I’m sitting in a conference room at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). One entire wall, specifically one of the longer walls of the rectangular room, is a window. I got myself a prime seat at the table facing the window. Clutch. Now I can look outside as I gather my thoughts during the meeting. Those of you that work in offices know how important windows are for sanity.

It’s raining outside. This is actually quite nice for me being from LA where it never rains. At JPL, I’m used to walking between buildings underneath the burning Sun. This is a nice change of pace.

As it rains outside, we discuss the Solar Arrays for the Europa Clipper Spacecraft inside. JPL and APL have teamed up for the Spacecraft design, each of us managing various parts. So, what’s the topic of discussion for the Solar Arrays today? Requirements. Good ole requirements. As Preliminary Design Review (PDR) season approaches, lower-level teams from all over the Project have to get their requirements reviewed and approved. (The higher-level teams already have baselined requirements at this phase.) With a solid set of requirements, we can all pass through this gate review to the next phase of development, the final design.

Right now our design is only preliminary. We long ago chose to use solar power over RTGs, but now we have a much more realistic Solar Array design. From the mechanical mounting to electrical interfaces, the design is maturing every day. This requirements review brings us one step closer to PDR and to building a real life Spacecraft.