Planetary Radio • Jun 14, 2017

Julie Webster and the Art of Spacecraft Endurance

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Julie Webster

Cassini Spacecraft Operations Office Manager for Jet Propulsion Laboratory

How do you keep a dazzlingly complex spacecraft in good health after 20 years in space? That’s the challenge for Julie Webster and her team of engineers supporting the Cassini mission at Saturn. Jason Davis reports on the possible discovery of the asteroid impact that wiped out most of Earth’s life. Bill Nye the Science Guy is following the youthful wanderings of Jupiter. Cassini is the source of this week’s space trivia contest on What’s Up.

Cassini and its ATLO team
Cassini and its ATLO team February 21, 1997—Julie Webster, Cassini’s manager of spacecraft operations (kneeling, right), and the rest of the mission's assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) team pose with the spacecraft outside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Space Simulator a few months before launch.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Bob Brown

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This week's prizes are a Planetary Radio t-shirt, now available in both men’s and women’s styles, a 200-point astronomy account, and a Planetary Radio sticker.

This week's question:

What fuel do the Cassini spacecraft’s sixteen thrusters (not the main engines) use?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, June 21st at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What class or group of meteorites matches the average composition of samples returned from asteroid Itokawa by the Hayabusa mission?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What star has the largest proper motion?


Barnard’s Star, just six light years from Earth, has the largest proper motion visible from Earth.