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NASA to launch Sounding Rocket that will take 1,500 pictures in 5 minutes of the Sun

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When Galileo first observed Venus displaying a crescent phase, he excitedly wrote to Kepler (in anagram) of Venus mimicking the moon-goddess. He would have been delirious with joy to see Saturn and Titan, seen in this image, doing the same thing.

More than just pretty pictures, high-phase observations — taken looking generally toward the Sun, as in this image — are very powerful scientifically since the way atmospheres and rings transmit sunlight is often diagnostic of compositions and physical states.

The Rapid Acquisition Imaging Spectrograph Experiment is seen peeking out of a clean room during the weeks of testing before its scheduled November 2014 launch. (NASA/RAISE)
The Rapid Acquisition Imaging Spectrograph Experiment is seen peeking out of a clean room during the weeks of testing before its scheduled November 2014 launch. (NASA/RAISE)

In this example, Titan’s crescent nearly encircles its disk due to the small haze particles high in its atmosphere refracting the incoming light of the distant Sun.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 3 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in violet light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on August 11th, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.7 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 154 degrees. Image scale is 64 miles (103 kilometers) per pixel.

The RAISE mission will focus on an active region — an area of complex and intense magnetic activity — in the sun’s atmosphere. The region can be seen in this image from NASA’s SDO as the bright, magnetic loops hovering above the sun’s surface on the left-hand side just below the mid-line. (NASA/SDO)
The RAISE mission will focus on an active region — an area of complex and intense magnetic activity — in the sun’s atmosphere. The region can be seen in this image from NASA’s SDO as the bright, magnetic loops hovering above the sun’s surface on the left-hand side just below the mid-line. (NASA/SDO)

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

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Related Link: More about NASA’s sounding rocket program

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