Countdown to Saturn Orbit Insertion - Event timings and UK contacts

Press Release From: Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council
Posted: Monday, June 28, 2004

Cassini-Huygens, the joint NASA/ESA/ASI space mission, is due to enter Saturn's orbit during the early hours of Thursday 1st July 2004.

From 28th June - 3rd July NASA will be operating a newsroom facility and will be holding daily press briefings during the lead up to Saturn Orbit Insertion, the event itself and the first results to come through.

These briefings will be shown on NASA and ESA TV and webcast (see details below).

Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) is a critical manoeuvre for the spacecraft. After crossing through the gap between two of the Saturn's rings Cassini-Huygens will fire its main engine to reduce its speed, allowing the spacecraft to be captured by Saturn's gravity and enter orbit. The spacecraft will then begin a four-year tour of the ringed planet, its mysterious moons, the stunning rings, and its complex magnetic environment. In December 2004 the Huygens probe will be released and it will descend onto the surface of Titan on 14th January 2005.

UK scientists are playing significant roles in the mission with involvement in 6 of the 12 instruments onboard the Cassini orbiter and 2 of the 6 instruments on the Huygens probe. The UK has the lead role in the magnetometer instrument on Cassini (Imperial College) and the Surface Science Package on Huygens (Open University).

UK Science Contacts in the States

A number of the UK scientists involved will be at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California during SOI, following events as they happen and awaiting data from their instruments. They will be contactable for media enquiries. Please note the time difference - JPL operates on PDT which is equivalent to BST or CET minus 8 hours.

Dr Michele Dougherty, Imperial College - PI on the Magnetometer instrument (Cassini)
Tel: +1 818 3930318 (JPL office number) - between 28th June and 9th July.
Mobile: +1 626 3760765
Tel: 020 7594 7757. From 10th July onwards.

Professor Carl Murray, Queen Mary, University of London - Co-I on the Imaging Science Subsystem (Cassini)
Mobile: +44 7976 243883 - between 28th June and 4th July
Office: 0207 8825446 - from 5th July onwards.

Professor John Zarnecki, Open University - PI on the Science Surface Package (Huygens) and Co-I on the Huygens Atmospheric Instrument
Mobile: +44 7769 943883 - between 28th June and 4th July.
Office : 01908 659599 - from 5th July onwards

NASA/ESA Media Events

Press briefings are currently scheduled for the following dates - all times subject to confirmation. For further details on the briefing schedules please see

Tuesday 29th June
Cassini-Huygens Saturn Orbit Insertion Press Conference - 1700 - 1800 BST

Wednesday 30th June
Insertion Status - 1700 - 1800 BST

Thursday 1st July
Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion Live - 0245 - 0600 BST
Dr Michele Dougherty from Imperial College will provide a brief overview of the Magnetometer instrument on which she is lead scientist during this broadcast.

Thursday 1st July
Post SOI Press Conference - 0630 - 0730 BST

Thursday 1st July
First Results - 1800 - 1900 BST

Broadcast Information

The Open University in Milton Keynes will be screening broadcasts from 0400 BST on July 1st with a repeat at 0800. Members of the press wishing to watch the broadcast with Professor Colin Pillinger, head of the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute, Dr Simon Green of the Huygens probe and other members of the PSSRI team should contact Louis de la Foret at the Open University (contact details below).


NASA Television is available on AMC-9, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. Reporters can call in questions at 202/358-7020. See for further details.


The ESA TV Service will provide extensive live coverage of all international press conferences, the orbital insertion on the night of 30th June to 1st July, and the presentation of the first images at JPL. All transmission details and satellite details are published online and will be continuously updated at

The ESA live TV transmission of the orbit insertion will also be transmitted on Astra 2C, the satellite reception details being as follows:-

Astra 2C at 19 degrees East
Transponder 57, horizontal, MPEG-2, MCPC
Frequency 10832 MHz, Symbol rate 22000 MS/sec. Fec= 5/6


ESA TV's coverage will be webstreamed - for further details see

For information on NASA's webcast's see

Space Detectives at the Science Museum - venue for interviews A new Space Detectives exhibit in the Antenna section of the Science Museum will provide an apt backdrop for any interviews. Cassini Huygens features in the display artwork plus there is a small model of Cassini which can be used. In addition the prototype parachute that will slow the Huygens probe down as it lands on the surface of Titan, forms part of the exhibit.

The exhibition is being launched on 29th June. Dr Andrew Coates, a UK Cassini-Huygens scientist from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL, will be speaking.

For further details please contact Ben Ayers in the Science Museum press office. Tel: 020 7942 4357. Email:

Royal Society Summer Science exhibition

The UK Goes to the Planets Consortium has an exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition which runs from 4th - 8th July (press preview on Tuesday 5th July 9.30 - 11am). Some of the UK Cassini-Huygens scientists will be taking part in this and be showing off the latest images and data received from the mission.

Press office contacts

Peter Barratt - PPARC Press Office
Tel: 01793 442025. Email:
Mobile: 0787 9602899

Julia Maddock - PPARC Press Office
Tel: 01793 442094. Email:
Mobile: 07901 514975

Gill Ormrod - PPARC Press Office
Tel: 01793 442012. Email:
Mobile: 0781 801 3509

Franco Bonacina - ESA Press Office
Tel: +33 1 5369 7155. Email:

Don Savage - NASA Public Affairs
Tel +1 202 358 1727

Carolina Martinez - JPL Press Office
For interviews with US scientists or mission managers contact Carolina Martinez at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Media Relations Office +1 818-354-9382 or Email

Steve Warren - BNSC Press Office
Tel: 020 7215 0806. Email:

Tom Miller - Imperial College Press Office
Tel: 020 7594 6704. Mobile: 07803 886 248. Email:

Sally Webster - Queen Mary, University of London Press Office
Tel: 020 7882 5404. Email:

Judith Moore - Mullard Space Science Laboratory/UCL Press Office
Tel: 020 7679 7678. Mobile: 077333 07596. Email:

Louis de la Foret - Open University Press Office
Tel: 01908 653256. Email:

Further UK Cassini-Huygens science contacts

Listed according to the instrument they are involved with but all able to answer general enquiries about SOI and the mission itself.

Cassini Electron Spectrometer (CAPS-ELS)
Dr Andrew Coates, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL
Tel: 01483 204145. Email:
Mobile: 07788 448318

Professor Manuel Grande - Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Tel: 01235 446501. Mail:

Magnetometer (MAG)
Dr Nick Achilleos, Imperial College (Cassini science, instruments and operations)
Tel: 020 75947759. Email:

Dr Ingo Mueller-Wodarg, Imperial College (Titan science, Cassini science)
Tel: 020 75947674. Email:

Professor Stan Cowley, Leicester University
Tel: 0116 2231331. Email:

Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS)
Dr Patrick Irwin, University of Oxford
Tel: 01865 272083. Email:

Professor Peter Ade, University of Cardiff
Tel: 029 20874643. Email:

Radio and Plasma Waves Instrument (RPWS)
Dr Hugo Alleyne, University of Sheffield
Co-Investigator on Tel: 0114 222 5630. Email:

Cosmic Dust Analyser
Professor Tony McDonnell - Open University
Tel: 01908 659602. Email:

Huygens - Science Surface Package and Huygens Atmospheric Instrument
Dr Simon Green
Tel: 01908 659601. Email:

Dr Andrew Ball
Tel: 01908 659596. Email:

Dr Martin Towner
Tel: 01908 659594. Email:

Peter Challenor, Southampton Oceanography Centre
Tel: 023 80596413. Email:

UK industrial involvement

UK industry is also playing a significant role in the mission, rising to the challenge of designing equipment that may have to work autonomously in a hostile environment at the very low temperatures of around minus 200 degrees Celsius.

LogicaCMG - Contact: Nick Shave, Space & Satcoms Operations Manager, LogicaCMG. Alex Rowley. Tel: 0207 4197331. Email:

Martin Baker Space Systems - Contact: Steve Lingard. Tel: 01865 893210. Email:

Irvin-GQ - Contact: Geoff Linaker. Tel: 01656 727000. Email:

IGG Component Technology - Contact: Graham Peters. Tel: 01329 829311. Email:

Ultra Electronics - Contact: Paul Austin. Tel: 01543 878888. Email: Mike Hellard. Tel: 01543 878888. Email:

Further details about the UK involvement can be found at:-


Images of Cassini and Huygens can be found on the following websites:-

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