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Topic: Orbit

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft changes orbit angle to get view of Saturn’s Rings

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It’s been nearly two years since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has had views like these of Saturn’s glorious rings. These views are possible again because Cassini has changed the angle at which it orbits Saturn and regularly passes above and below Saturn’s equatorial plane.

Steeply inclined orbits around the Saturn system also allow scientists to get better views of the poles and atmosphere of Saturn and its moons.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has recently resumed the kind of orbits that allow for spectacular views of Saturn's rings. This view, from Cassini's imaging camera, shows the outer A ring and the F ring. The wide gap in the image is the Encke gap, where you see not only the embedded moon Pan but also several kinky, dusty ringlets. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has recently resumed the kind of orbits that allow for spectacular views of Saturn’s rings. This view, from Cassini’s imaging camera, shows the outer A ring and the F ring. The wide gap in the image is the Encke gap, where you see not only the embedded moon Pan but also several kinky, dusty ringlets. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft finds Evidence of Subsurface Ocean of Water on Saturn’s Moon Titan

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have revealed Saturn’s moon Titan likely harbors a layer of liquid water under its ice shell.

Researchers saw a large amount of squeezing and stretching as the moon orbited Saturn. They deduced that if Titan were composed entirely of stiff rock, the gravitational attraction of Saturn would cause bulges, or solid “tides,” on the moon only 3 feet (1 meter) in height. Spacecraft data show Saturn creates solid tides approximately 30 feet (10 meters) in height, which suggests Titan is not made entirely of solid rocky material. The finding appears in today’s edition of the journal Science.

This artist's concept shows a possible scenario for the internal structure of Titan, as suggested by data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (Image credit: A. Tavani)

This artist’s concept shows a possible scenario for the internal structure of Titan, as suggested by data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Image credit: A. Tavani)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft shows Saturn’s own internal heat drives it’s Jet Streams, not the Sun

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Turbulent jet streams, regions where winds blow faster than in other places, churn east and west across Saturn. Scientists have been trying to understand for years the mechanism that drives these wavy structures in Saturn’s atmosphere and the source from which the jets derive their energy.

In a new study appearing in the June edition of the journal Icarus, scientists used images collected over several years by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to discover that the heat from within the planet powers the jet streams.

A particularly strong jet stream churns through Saturn's northern hemisphere in this false-color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

A particularly strong jet stream churns through Saturn’s northern hemisphere in this false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA’s New Book “Breaking the Mishap Chain” tells why Aerospace Accidents Happen

 

Written by Jim Banke
NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Understanding what causes an accident often is like looking at an iceberg. We see the accident as the tip of the iceberg, but all the missteps, poor decisions and coincidences that led up to it often are missed, hidden just beneath the surface.

In NASA’s newest book, “Breaking the Mishap Chain,” that oversight is corrected as some of the most well-known accidents in aviation and space history are remembered with details that reveal the non-technical, human-related events that led to each incident.

Accident investigators learned that the enormous and confusing array of dials and gauges in older aircraft cockpits were sometimes a link in the mishap chain. (Image credit: NASA)

Accident investigators learned that the enormous and confusing array of dials and gauges in older aircraft cockpits were sometimes a link in the mishap chain. (Image credit: NASA)

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NASA explains the fascination of Venus before it’s Transit of the Sun

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A Venus transit across the face of the sun is a relatively rare event — occurring in pairs with more than a century separating each pair. There have been all of 53 transits of Venus across the sun between 2000 B.C. and the last one in 2004.

On Wednesday, June 6th (Tuesday, June 5th from the Western Hemisphere), Earth gets another shot at it – and the last for a good long while.  But beyond this uniquely celestial oddity, why has Venus been an object worthy of ogling for hundreds of centuries?

Artist concept of lightning on Venus. (Image credit: ESA)

Artist concept of lightning on Venus. (Image credit: ESA)

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NASA’s Hubble Telescope measurements give astronomers data to predict Milky Way Galaxy collision with Andromeda Galaxy

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA astronomers say they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

The Milky Way is destined to get a major makeover during the encounter, which is predicted to happen four billion years from now. It is likely the sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.

The Milky Way and Andromeda are moving toward each other under the inexorable pull of gravity. Also shown is a smaller galaxy, Triangulum, which may be part of the smashup. (Credit: NASA; ESA; A. Feild and R. van der Marel, STScI)

The Milky Way and Andromeda are moving toward each other under the inexorable pull of gravity. Also shown is a smaller galaxy, Triangulum, which may be part of the smashup. (Credit: NASA; ESA; A. Feild and R. van der Marel, STScI)

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NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) completed it’s Prime Mission early

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A NASA mission to study the moon from crust to core has completed its prime mission earlier than expected. The team of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, with twin probes named Ebb and Flow, is now preparing for extended science operations starting August 30th and continuing through December 3rd, 2012.

The GRAIL mission has gathered unprecedented detail about the internal structure and evolution of the moon. This information will increase our knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

An artist's depiction of the twin spacecraft that comprise NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. During the GRAIL mission's science phase, spacecraft (Ebb and Flow) transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon in formation. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT)

An artist's depiction of the twin spacecraft that comprise NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. During the GRAIL mission's science phase, spacecraft (Ebb and Flow) transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon in formation. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array prepares for Launch

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Final pre-launch preparations are underway for NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The mission, which will use X-ray vision to hunt for hidden black holes, is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 13th from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The observatory will launch from the belly of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s L-1011 “Stargazer” aircraft aboard the company’s Pegasus rocket.

Artist's concept showing NASA's NuSTAR mission orbiting Earth. NuSTAR will hunt for hidden black holes and other exotic cosmic objects. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist's concept showing NASA's NuSTAR mission orbiting Earth. NuSTAR will hunt for hidden black holes and other exotic cosmic objects. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Spots Saturn’s tiny moon Methone

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its closest approach to Saturn’s tiny moon Methone as part of a trajectory that will take it on a close flyby of another of Saturn’s moons, Titan. The Titan flyby will put the spacecraft in an orbit around Saturn that is inclined, or tilted, relative to the plane of the planet’s equator.

The flyby of Methone took place on May 20th at a distance of about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers). It was Cassini’s closest flyby of the 2-mile-wide (3-kilometer-wide) moon.

This raw, unprocessed image was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on May 20th, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Methone. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

This raw, unprocessed image was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on May 20th, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Methone. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Detects Possible Evaporating Planet

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – Astronomers may have detected evidence of a possible planet disintegrating under the searing heat of its host star located 1,500 light-years from Earth. Similar to a debris-trailing comet, the super Mercury-size planet candidate is theorized to fashion a dusty tail. But the tail won’t last for long.

Scientists calculate that, at the current rate of evaporation, the dusty world could be completely vaporized within 200 million years.

The artist's concept depicts a comet-like tail of a possible disintegrating super Mercury-size planet candidate as it transits its parent star named KIC 12557548. At an orbital distance of only twice the diameter of its star, the surface temperature of the potential planet is estimated to be a sweltering 3,300 degrees Fahrenheit. At such a high temperature, the surface would melt and evaporate. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The artist's concept depicts a comet-like tail of a possible disintegrating super Mercury-size planet candidate as it transits its parent star named KIC 12557548. At an orbital distance of only twice the diameter of its star, the surface temperature of the potential planet is estimated to be a sweltering 3,300 degrees Fahrenheit. At such a high temperature, the surface would melt and evaporate. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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