The realtime simulation of the Cassini mission has been updated to show the upcoming close encounters with Rhea and Helene (March 2 & 3). Unfortunately, the solar system simulator does not have Helene in it so I cannot link in the usual simulated views.
The Voyager 2 realtime simulation now shows the mission tweets. Hope to expand that to more mission and other pages on the site.
EDIT: This feature is now also available for Herschel, Planck, Kepler, MSL (Curiosity), MESSENGER, Spirit, Opportunity, New Horizons and Cassini
Whilst upgrading the background processes to allow for the upcoming Cassini multiple flybys, I have also fixed some errors that occurred in missions where there is no distance flown information available.
The Cassini mission had its extended-extended mission approved and will run until 15 Sep 2017 when it will be deliberately crashed into Saturn (to protect Titan from Earthlings contamination). I have uploaded the new timeline as well as the general trajectory (the data that the system will fall back on when the segment trajectory data runs out). The latest segment trajectory is up as well and runs to early March 2010. Go Cassini!
The latest Cassini sequence trajectory data has been uploaded and will be used until it expires on 04 Feb 2010. After that date, the data will fallback to the base data until the new trajectory sequence is available.
Dawn cruise sequence DC036 has been uploaded as well and will take over on 08 Feb 2010.
I found this quote on Stephen van Vuuren’s blog, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Huygens landing on Titan. These thoughts were made 300 years before Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot:
How vast these Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.
-Christiaan Huygens, New Conjectures Concerning the Planetary Worlds, Their Inhabitants and Productions, c. 1690.