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Topic: European Space Agency

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft to move into higher orbit around Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini mission is entering its next chapter with an orbital choreography meant to tilt the spacecraft’s orbit out of Saturn’s ringplane.

The second of five large propulsive maneuvers in this campaign took place on Saturday, January 23rd. Each maneuver in the series sets up a subsequent gravity-assist flyby of Saturn’s massive moon Titan, which reshapes the spacecraft’s orbit, sending it to increasingly higher inclination with respect to Saturn’s equator.

This is an artists concept of Cassini during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver, just after the main engine has begun firing. (NASA/JPL)

This is an artists concept of Cassini during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver, just after the main engine has begun firing. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft thrusters pass their functional tests

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While some technologies were created to make spacecraft move billions of miles, the Disturbance Reduction System has the opposite goal: To keep a spacecraft as still as possible.

The thruster system, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is part of the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched from Kourou, French Guiana on December 3rd, 2015 GMT (December 2nd PST).

LISA Pathfinder will test technologies that could one day allow detection of gravitational waves, whose effects are so miniscule that a spacecraft would need to remain extremely steady to detect them.

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. NASA/JPL developed a thruster system onboard. (ESA)

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. NASA/JPL developed a thruster system onboard. (ESA)

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NASA’s Juno mission achieves Distance Record for Solar Powered Spacecraft

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity’s most distant solar-powered emissary. The milestone occurred at 11:00am PT (2:00pm ET, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday, January 13th, when Juno was about 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the sun.

The previous record-holder was the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, whose orbit peaked out at the 492-million-mile (792-million-kilometer) mark in October 2012, during its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Launching from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Launching from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Euclid Mission to investigate mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Euclid, a planned mission to investigate the profound cosmic mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, has passed its preliminary design review. This clears the way for construction to begin.

Euclid is a European Space Agency mission with important contributions from NASA, including infrared detectors for one instrument and science and data analysis.

Euclid is designed to give us important new insights into the “dark side” of the universe — namely dark matter and dark energy, both thought to be key components of our cosmos.

Artist's impression of the Euclid spacecraft, a dark energy and dark matter mission planned for launch in 2020. (ESA/C. Carreau)

Artist’s impression of the Euclid spacecraft, a dark energy and dark matter mission planned for launch in 2020. (ESA/C. Carreau)

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NASA Thruster system aboard LISA Pathfinder spacecraft

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is on its way to space, having successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana (December 3rd local time/December 2nd PST). On board is the state-of-the-art Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), a thruster technology developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

LISA Pathfinder, led by the European Space Agency (ESA), is designed to test technologies that could one day detect gravitational waves. Gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, are ripples in spacetime produced by any accelerating body.

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. (ESA)

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. (ESA)

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NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory sees Thousands of Comets Disintegrate

 

Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For an astronomer, discovering a comet can be the highlight of a lifetime. Great comets carry the names of their discoverers into history. Comet Halley, Comet Lovejoy, Comet Hale-Bopp are just a few examples….

Imagine the frustration, though, if every time you discovered a comet, it was rapidly destroyed.

Believe it or not, this is what happens almost every day to the most prolific comet hunter of all time.

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to sample Saturn’s moon Enceladus’s ocean by flying through it’s icy plume

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will sample the ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus on Wednesday, October 28th, when it flies through the moon’s plume of icy spray.

Cassini launched in 1997 and entered orbit around Saturn in 2004. Since then, it has been studying the huge planet, its rings and its magnetic field. Here are some things to know about the mission’s upcoming close flyby of Enceladus:

This daring flyby will bring the Cassini spacecraft within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of Enceladus' south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This daring flyby will bring the Cassini spacecraft within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of Enceladus’ south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) provides insights into the boundary of our Solar System

 

Written by Maria Stothoff
Southwest Research Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSan Antonio, TX – In 14 papers published in the October 2015 Astrophysical Journal Supplement, scientists present findings from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, mission providing the most definitive analyses, theories and results about local interstellar space to date.

IBEX uses energetic neutral atom imaging to examine how our heliosphere, the magnetic bubble in which our sun and planets reside, interacts with interstellar space. IBEX created the first global maps showing these interactions and how they change over time. IBEX also directly measures interstellar neutral atoms flowing into the solar system; the journal’s special issue focuses on these particles.

An artist's rendition of NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, in space, where it collects observations of the boundaries of our solar system. (NASA)

An artist’s rendition of NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, in space, where it collects observations of the boundaries of our solar system. (NASA)

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NASA’s Hubble and Kepler Space Telescopes data used to show that majority of planets like Earth have yet to be formed

 

Written by Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to a new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won’t be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets – 92 percent – have yet to be born.

This conclusion is based on an assessment of data collected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the prolific planet-hunting Kepler space observatory.

This is an artist's impression of innumerable Earth-like planets that have yet to be born over the next trillion years in the evolving universe.(NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

This is an artist’s impression of innumerable Earth-like planets that have yet to be born over the next trillion years in the evolving universe.(NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft takes photos of Saturn’s Moon Enceladus’ northern extremes

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has begun returning its best-ever views of the northern extremes of Saturn’s icy, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus.

The spacecraft obtained the images during its October 14th flyby, passing 1,142 miles (1,839 kilometers) above the moon’s surface. Mission controllers say the spacecraft will continue transmitting images and other data from the encounter for the next several days.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft zoomed by Saturn's icy moon Enceladus on Oct. 14, 2015, capturing this stunning image of the moon's north pole. A companion view from the wide-angle camera (PIA20010) shows a zoomed out view of the same region for context. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft zoomed by Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus on Oct. 14, 2015, capturing this stunning image of the moon’s north pole. A companion view from the wide-angle camera (PIA20010) shows a zoomed out view of the same region for context. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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