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Cassini space probe exits safe mode just in time for its flyby of Enceladus

Joseph L. Flatley
November 27, 2010
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Apparently our faithful Windows 98 laptop isn't the only thing that goes into "safe mode" from time to time. For the last three weeks, the Cassini spacecraft has been in standby as it orbited Saturn due to a glitch, or "flipped bit," which prompted a shutdown of all but the most essential of the probe's operations. Engineers have been unable to determine what exactly prompted the error, although a subsequent examination of the vehicle's systems shows that all the spacecraft's responses were proper, paving the way for a reactivation of its instrumentation this previous Wednesday. If all continues to go smoothly, this will set the stage for a study of the moon Enceladus during a fly-by on November 30. This marks the sixth time that the spacecraft has gone into safe mode since its launch in 1997.

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