April 4, 2017

NASA’s Cassini Mission Prepares For ‘Grand Finale’ At Saturn

This illustration shows NASA’s Cassini spacecraft above Saturn’s northern hemisphere prior to one of its 22 grand finale dives. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

April 4, 2017 – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of its remarkable story. On Wednesday, April 26, the spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives through the 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale. Read More


New Horizons Halfway From Pluto To Next Flyby Target

In preparation for the New Horizons flyby of 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019, the spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took a series of 10-second exposures of the background star field near the location of its target Kuiper Belt object (KBO). This composite image is made from 45 of these 10-second exposures taken on Jan. 28, 2017. The yellow diamond marks the predicted location of MU69 on approach, but the KBO itself was too far from the spacecraft (544 million miles, or 877 million kilometers) even for LORRI’s telescopic “eye” to detect. New Horizons expects to start seeing MU69 with LORRI in September of 2018 – and the team will use these newly acquired images of the background field to help prepare for that search on approach. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

April 4, 2017 – How time and our spacecraft fly – especially when you’re making history at 32,000 miles per hour. Continuing on its path through the outer regions of the solar system, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has now traveled half the distance from Pluto – its storied first target – to 2014 MU69, the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) it will fly past on January 1, 2019. The spacecraft reached that milestone at midnight (UTC) on April 3 – or 8 p.m. ET on April 2 – when it was 486.19 million miles (782.45 million kilometers) beyond Pluto and the same distance from MU69. Read More


Prolific Mars Orbiter Completes 50,000 Orbits

The Context Camera (CTX) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been taking images of Mars for more than 10 years, sharp enough to show the shapes of features as small as a tennis court. The compiled images from CTX now cover more than 99 percent of Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

April 4, 2017 – The most data-productive spacecraft yet at Mars swept past its 50,000th orbit last week, continuing to compile the most sharp-eyed global coverage ever accomplished by a camera at the Red Planet. In addition, the spacecraft — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) — recently aided preparations for NASA’s next mission to Mars, the InSight lander. Read More


SwRI-Led Team Focusing On Safety Chosen For NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute

The logo for NASA’s newest virtual institute, Project ESPRESSO, is two coffee rings intended to look like an impact onto a planet and moon. Led by Southwest Research Institute, ESPRESSO is set to develop tools and techniques needed for future solar system explorations. Image Credit: Southwest Research Institute

April 4, 2017 – NASA announced it has selected a new team led by Southwest Research Institute to its Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). Project ESPRESSO (Exploration Science Pathfinder Research for Enhancing Solar System Observations) is a consortium of seven research institutions dedicated to developing tools and techniques needed for future human exploration of the solar system. Read More


More News

CU & NASA To Build Observatories On The Moon
Source: 9news.com

Coloradans are among the scientists who one day plan to build obervatories on the moon.


NASA Selects New Research Teams To Further Solar System Exploration
Source: NASA/SSERVI

NASA has selected four new research teams to join the existing nine teams in SSERVI to address scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments, in cooperation with international partners.


Planetary Science Institute’s Toolbox For Research And Exploration Project Funded For $5.5 Million
Source: Planetary Science Institute

The Planetary Science Institute has been awarded $5.5 million by NASA to be a research node of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to advance basic and applied research for lunar and planetary science, and advance human exploration of the solar system. The node, known as the Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX) project, will be led by PSI Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix, the Principal Investigator, and funded for five years.