June 15-21, 2015 / Vol 34, No 24 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Cassini Spacecraft Nears 11 Years of Saturn Exploration, 18 Years in Space

saturn cassini 2015

The multinational Cassini orbiter will reach 11 full years of science operations in Saturn orbit on June 30 and 18 years in space October 15. A joint mission of NASA, ESA and ASI, the craft is the 4th to visit Saturn and the 1st to enter orbit. It is currently circling Saturn with a period of 18.9-days, 0.3° from the gas giant’s equatorial plane. Between June 15-16 Cassini is planned to make flybys of 8 of 62 known Saturn moons: Dione (516 km), Polydeuces (35,000 km), Telesto (44,000 km), Janus (101,000 km), Methone (110,000 km), Atlas (111,000 km), Pan (118,000 km) and Titan (958,000 km). A particular goal of the Dione (upper right) flyby will be to map the quarter of the hemisphere that faces Saturn including the tectonically deformed terrain named “Eurotas Chasmata” first observed by the Voyager mission 35 years ago. Cassini made its final close approach of Hyperion (upper left) at 34,000 km on May 31. Investigation teams continue to convene at science meetings on Juno-Cassini, Jupiter-Saturn magnetosphere, one of which will be held June 22-26 at JPL in Pasadena. Cassini is expected to collect data on Saturn, its rings and moons until its planned fall into Saturn atmosphere on September 15, 2017. (Image Credit: NASA, JPL, Caltech, SSI, ESA, ASI)


Jun 15 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 44 crew with Gennady Padalka as Commander performing station, computer & spacesuit maintenance, working with Fine Motor Skills experiment to test Astronaut interactions with touch-based technologies & spacecraft instrumentation; Scott Kelly & Mikhail Kornienko now 80 days into their 1-year mission.

 Jun 15 — Rosetta, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Orbit: Studying comet with 11 science instruments from distances varying between hundreds of km to 8 km; mission engineers proposing to land craft next to Philae on comet surface to extend mission life / gather further data.

Jun 15 — Juno, Jupiter Trajectory: Craft in nominal health has 265M km before reaching Jupiter, traveling at 36 km/sec relative to Earth with a one-way radio signal time of 41 mins, has traveled 2.56B km.

Jun 15 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Polydeuces flyby scheduled at 35,000-km altitude; craft continuing to collect data on “invisible” Phoebe ring believed to be twice the thickness originally measured.

 Jun 15 — Astrobotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh PA: NewSpace company working on agreement with Mexican Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Mexicana – AEM) to develop & deliver 1st Latin American payload to Moon on Astrobotic Griffin Lander; payload to be decided Fall 2015.

Jun 15 — Generation Orbit Launch Services LLC, Atlanta GA: Developing GOLauncher 2 two-stage rocket system capable of carrying 40 kg to LEO for US$2.5M; GOLauncher 1 first flight planned for 2017; continuing fundraising efforts, has MoU with Jacksonville Cecil Spaceport & 11 Letters of Intent from future customers.

 Jun 15 — Spire, Singapore, USA & Scotland: Opening third office in Glasgow, Scotland, working to build & launch ~50 Earth observation CubeSats.

Jun 15 — Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Online / Chattanooga TN: Proposals for Working Tracks Due: 2016 Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop: From Iron Horse to Worldship: Becoming an Interstellar Civilization; to be held Feb 28 – Mar 2, 2016.

JUN - AUG 2015 = All times

for terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for international terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for space events, and…

= All times for international space / astro events in Hawaii Standard Time unless noted. Add 10 hours to obtain UT (‘Universal Time;’ Greenwich, England).

Weekly Planet Watch – Evening Planets: Venus (W), Jupiter (W), Saturn (S); Morning Planets: Uranus (E), Neptune (SE).

Turkey hosts IEEE and AIAA International Space Conference

Calendar feature - RAST 2015 Turkey

The 7th International Conference on Recent Advances in Space Technologies “RAST 2015” is being organized by the Aeronautics and Space Technologies Institute of the Turkish Air Force Academy in cooperation with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) on 16-19 June in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme of the event is Emerging Private Space and there will be contributions from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Norway, Pakistan, Romania Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Tunisia, among others. The Opening Ceremony includes Maj.Gen. Fethi Alpay of Turkish Air Force Academy, Garrett Smith of Spacelines and Dr. Charles Elachi of NASA-JPL. There will be three plenary sessions with multiple presentations on diverse topics, including Space Strategies for Developing Countries by Herman Steyn, Low-Cost Nano-Launch Vehicle via Delethalizing Rocket Propulsion by Toru Shimada, and The Need For Sustainable Use of Outer Space by Kai-Uwe Schrogl. The conference is prefaced on Tuesday by a Tutorial on Design and Testing of Nanosatellites at the Istanbul Technical University Maslak and Gumussuyu Campus. (Image Credit: TAFA, IEEE, AIAA, NASA)

Jun 15-19 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association, Earth Life Science Institute, Chicago IL: Astrobiology Science Conference 2015 (AbSciCon2015): Habitability, Habitable Worlds and Life; at Hilton Chicago.

Jun 15-21— French Aerospace Industries Association (GIFAS), Paris, France: Paris Air Show (Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace, Paris-Le Bourget).

Jun 15 — Moon: 0.98° N of Aldebaran, 02:00.

Continued from…

Mar 1 – Jan 1, 2016 — Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Multiple Locations: Cycle 3 of science flights to observe universe consists of science flights grouped into multi-week observing campaigns totaling about 450 research flight hours.

May 1 – Jun 30 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, National Space Grant Foundation, Houston TX: 2015 eXploration Habitat (X-Hab); university-level students’ designs for functional space habitat subsystems prototypes to be submitted & evaluated.

Jun 1 – Aug 7 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: 2015 LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science.

Jun 8-19 — International Institute of Physics at Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil: Theoretical Frontiers in Black Holes and Cosmology.

Jun 8 – Aug 7 — International Space University, Glenn Research Center, NASA, Ohio University, Athens OH: ISU 28th Space Studies Program (SSP 2015).


Jun 16 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Flyby scheduled for Dione (516 km), Telesto (44,000 km), Janus (101,000 km), Methone (110,000 km), Atlas (111,000 km), Pan (118,000 km), Titan (958,000 km).

Jun 16 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Ultra-lightweight Probes to Catalyze Interstellar Exploration; presented by Jon Rather, 12:00.

Jun 16-19 — Aeronautics and Space Technologies Institute, Turkish Air Force Academy, AIAA, IEEE, Istanbul, Turkey: 7th International Conference on Recent Advances in Space Technologies (RAST 2015).

Jun 16 — Moon: 5.5° S of Mars, 03:00; New Moon, 04:05; 5.9° S of M35, 17:00.

Jun 16 — Asteroid 1566 Icarus: Near-Earth flyby (0.054 AU).


Jun 17 — International Space University, Ohio University, Athens OH: ISU 2015 Space Studies Program Astronaut Panel: 40 years of spaceflight experience from Apollo to ISS!; featuring Astronauts Harrison Jack Schmitt (NASA), Sergei Krikalev (RSA), Bob Thirsk (CSA), Paolo Nespoli (ESA); at Ohio University.

Jun 17 — Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Resources Geography (HCMIRG) of Vietnam, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: 7th Space Application For Environment (SAFE) Workshop.

Jun 17-19 — ESA, Madrid, Spain: Workshop: 40 Years of X-ray Bursts – Extreme Explosions in Dense Environments; at European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC).

Jun 17 — Asteroid 2015 LK: Near-Earth flyby (0.020 AU).


Jun 18 — Tri-State Astronomical Society, Garretson SD: 13th Annual South Dakota Star Party (SDSP) 2015.

Jun 18, 19 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech/NASA, Pasadena CA: von Kármán Lecture Series: On Sea Ice; presented by Ron Kwok, Senior Research Scientist at JPL.

Jun 18 — Moon: 15.0° S of Castor, 03:00; 11.5° S of Pollux, 09:00.

Jun 18 — Mars: Spring equinox, 03:00.

Jun 18 — Asteroid 2015 LG: Near-Earth flyby (0.023 AU).


Jun 19 — Canadian Space Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Space Science and Technology Presentations Series: The Empire Strikes Out; presented by Robert Godwin, at York University.

Jun 19 — AIAA San Francisco Section, Mountain View CA: 2015 AIAA Annual Banquet; featuring CEO of Space Puerto Rico, and Sean Casey, Managing Director of SVSC.

Jun 19-21 — The British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: 2015 Soviet/Chinese Technical Forum – 35th Anniversary Programme.

Jun 19-25 — Spain Space Science Institute, College of Rhodes, Rhodes Island, Greece: Workshop: Cosmology and the Quantum Vacuum.

Jun 19 — Moon: 5.6° SSW of Beehive Cluster, 11:00; 5.6° SSW of Venus, 23:00.

Jun 19 — Asteroid 2015 KS57: Near-Earth flyby (0.046 AU).


Jun 20 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #413 today.

Jun 20 — Moon: 4.5° SSW of Jupiter, 11:00.

Jun 20 — Asteroid 2015 KC57: Near-Earth flyby (0.068 AU).


Jun 21-26 — The Korean Astronomical Society, The Korean Gravitational Wave Group, et al, Gwangju, South Korea: 11th Edoardo Amaldi Conference on Gravitational Waves; at Kimdaejung Convention Center.

Jun 21 – Jul 12 — Aspen Center for Physics, Aspen CO: Workshop: The Physics of Accretion and Feedback in the Circum-Galactic Medium.

Jun 21 — Summer Solstice: Longest day of the year (opposite in Southern Hemisphere) as Sun, traveling along ecliptic, reaches a point farthest north of celestial equator; 06:38.

Jun 21 — Moon: 3.5° S of Regulus, 09:00.

Jun 21 — Asteroid 2010 LN14: Near-Earth flyby (0.048 AU).