NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft With Northrop’s Navigation Tool Travels Through Gap Between Saturn, Rings

A Northrop Grumman-built navigation platform has worked to provide attitude control capabilities for NASA’s Cassini space vehicle in support of the Saturn exploration mission.

The spacecraft with Northrop’s Space Inertial Reference Unit maneuvered through a 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings on April 26, the company said Thursday.

Northrop’s SIRU navigation platform has a hemispherical resonator gyro component and works to provide data on critical angular rate to facilitate attitude control and stabilization of spacecraft and satellites as well as their corresponding instruments.

NASA expects Cassini to perform up to 22 dives between Saturn and its rings to collect additional data on the planet through mid-September.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been operating the Cassini spacecraft for NASA’s science mission directorate since its launch in 1997 as part of the mission that seeks to study the planet, its rings, magnetosphere and moons.

Northrop has supplied products to NASA in support of MESSENGER and other space exploration missions and leads an industry team that builds the James Webb Space Telescope through a contract with the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA plans to launch the telescope in late 2018.

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