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Topic: Orbit

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft adjusts course to Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully executed a maneuver to adjust its flight path, February 3rd, 2016. The maneuver refined the spacecraft’s trajectory, helping set the stage for Juno’s arrival at the solar system’s largest planetary inhabitant five months and a day from now.

“This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18pm PDT [11:18pm EDT],” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

Launched 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)

Launched 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 to include 13 CubeSats with 2018 launch of unmanned Orion Spacecraft into Deep Space

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The first flight of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will carry 13 low-cost CubeSats to test innovative ideas along with an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in 2018. Six of these CubeSat missions have contributions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

These small satellite secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars. SLS’ first flight, referred to as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), provides the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, as most launch opportunities for CubeSats are limited to low-Earth orbit.

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System, will examine the moon's surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (NASA)

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (NASA)

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NASA uses Satellite data to create Damage Maps of Nepal’s Earthquake

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Nepal’s magnitude 7.8 Gorkha earthquake caused significant damage and loss of life in 2015. In natural disasters like this, it is critical to locate areas that are in the most need of assistance as fast as possible.

Quickly assessing and communicating where the hardest-hit areas are and prioritizing which regions or communities have the greatest need for first-response teams is difficult when a disaster unevenly devastates various parts of a large area. It helps to get a bigger-picture view of where the damage is located from a high vantage point: low-Earth orbit.

This image shows street-level photos in the Bhaktapur area of Nepal overlaid on a damage proxy map derived from data from COSMO-SkyMed satellites. The color gradation -- yellow to orange to red -- represents increasingly more significant change on the ground. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Google/DigitalGlobe/CNES/Astrium/Amy MacDonald/Thornton Tomasetti)

This image shows street-level photos in the Bhaktapur area of Nepal overlaid on a damage proxy map derived from data from COSMO-SkyMed satellites. The color gradation — yellow to orange to red — represents increasingly more significant change on the ground. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Google/DigitalGlobe/CNES/Astrium/Amy MacDonald/Thornton Tomasetti)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft photos reveal details of Dwarf Planet Ceres over 200 years since it’s discovery

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New Year’s Day, 1801, the dawn of the 19th century, was a historic moment for astronomy, and for a space mission called Dawn more than 200 years later. That night, Giuseppe Piazzi pointed his telescope at the sky and observed a distant object that we now know as Ceres.

Today, NASA’s Dawn mission allows us to see Ceres in exquisite detail. From the images Dawn has taken over the past year, we know Ceres is a heavily cratered body with diverse features on its surface that include a tall, cone-shaped mountain and more than 130 reflective patches of material that is likely salt. But on that fateful evening in 1801, Piazzi wasn’t sure what he was seeing when he noticed a small, faint light through his telescope.

Giuseppe Piazzi used this instrument, called a Ramsden Circle, to discover Ceres on January 1, 1801. The telescope is on display at the Palermo Observatory in Sicily. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Palermo Observatory)

Giuseppe Piazzi used this instrument, called a Ramsden Circle, to discover Ceres on January 1, 1801. The telescope is on display at the Palermo Observatory in Sicily. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Palermo Observatory)

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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 reports Caltech Researchers discover evidence of a new Planet, Planet 9

 

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier
California Institute of Technology

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system.

The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet’s existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. (Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. (Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

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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 Engineers finish Orion Spacecraft’s pressured life support vessel

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Orion spacecraft is another step closer to launching on its first mission to deep space atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

On January 13th, technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans finished welding together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft destined for deep space, marking another important step on the journey to Mars.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft's pressure vessel was finished on January 13th, 2015. The pressure vessel will provide a sealed environment for astronaut life support in future human-rated crew modules. (NASA)

NASA’s Orion spacecraft’s pressure vessel was finished on January 13th, 2015. The pressure vessel will provide a sealed environment for astronaut life support in future human-rated crew modules. (NASA)

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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’s Dawn spacecraft delivers photos from it’s lowest orbit of dwarf planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau / Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, cruising in its lowest and final orbit at dwarf planet Ceres, has delivered the first images from its best-ever viewpoint. The new images showcase details of the cratered and fractured surface. 3-D versions of two of these views are also available.

Dawn took these images of the southern hemisphere of Ceres on December 10th, at an approximate altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers), which is its lowest-ever orbital altitude. Dawn will remain at this altitude for the rest of its mission, and indefinitely afterward. The resolution of the new images is about 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel.

This image of Ceres was taken in Dawn's low-altitude mapping orbit around a crater chain called Gerber Catena. A 3-D view is also available. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image of Ceres was taken in Dawn’s low-altitude mapping orbit around a crater chain called Gerber Catena. A 3-D view is also available. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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