Posts tagged probe
Posts tagged probe
This is an artist’s conception of the sequence of events that will take place just prior to landing a life-detection laboratory on the surface of Mars on July 4, 1976. Above right, the Viking spacecraft, composed of an orbiter and a lander, has been in orbit around the Red Planet since June 19, 1976, taking pictures of the planned landing site to ascertain its safety before releasing the lander (top, left) for its threeto five-hour descent. Protected by aeroshells, the heat-sterilized lander hurtles into the thin Martian atmosphere at a speed of about 10,000 mph, to be slowed first by aerodynamic drag until the shell is discarded, then by parachute (center) and finally by retrorockets to assure a gentle landing. Instruments will study the structure and composition of the Martian atmosphere as the lander drifts down. Viking 2 is scheduled to arrive at Mars on Aug. 7 and touch down on the surface on Sept. 4.
The Pioneer 11 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral forty years ago, on April 5, 1973. Pioneer 11’s path through Saturn’s outer rings took it within 21,000 km of the planet, where it discovered two new moons (almost smacking into one of them in September 1979) and a new “F” ring. The spacecraft also discovered and charted the magnetosphere, magnetic field and mapped the general structure of Saturn’s interior. The spacecraft’s instruments measured the heat radiation from Saturn’s interior and found that its planet-sized moon, Titan, was too cold to support life.
This image from Pioneer 11 shows Saturn and its moon Titan. The irregularities in ring silhouette and shadow are due to technical anomalies in the preliminary data later corrected. At the time this image was taken, Pioneer was 2,846,000 km (1,768,422 miles) from Saturn.
This view shows the launch pad that Explorer 1 launched from in 1958.
American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system, on February 18, 1930. Many key questions about Pluto, it’s moon Charon, and the outer fringes of our solar system await close-up observations.
A proposed NASA mission called New Horizons, depicted in the artist’s concept above, would use miniature cameras, radio science experiments, ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers and space plasma experiments to study Pluto and Charon, map their surface compositions and temperatures, and examine Pluto’s atmosphere in detail.
This artist’s concept of the proposed Mars Sample Return mission shows the entry, descent and landing sequence that the lander would undergo on its way to Mars.
A crucial step in the Mars Sample Return mission would be to launch the collected sample away from the surface of Mars. This artist’s concept depicts a Mars ascent vehicle starting a sample of Mars rocks on their trip to Earth.
On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity’s mission on Mars (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2012), NASA’s Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover.
The mosaic shows the rover at “Rocknest,” the spot in Gale Crater where the mission’s first scoop sampling took place. Four scoop scars can be seen in the regolith in front of the rover. A fifth scoop was collected later.
Self-portraits like this one document the state of the rover and allow mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheel wear. Due to its location on the end of the robotic arm, only MAHLI (among the rover’s 17 cameras) is able to image some parts of the craft, including the port-side wheels.
The Helios-A solar probe launched on Dec. 10, 1974 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
As it looped around the Sun in an orbit that took it from Earth’s orbit (1 AU from the Sun) to about 0.3 AU from the Sun and back again, Helios-A studied the solar wind, magnetic and electric fields, cosmic rays, and dust in interplanetary space. It flew within 47 million km of the Sun at a speed of 238,000 km per hour, the closest any human-made object had been. Its data indicated the presence of 15 times more micrometeorites close to the Sun than there are near Earth.
On Dec. 14, 1962, NASA’s Mariner 2 spacecraft sailed close to the shrouded planet Venus, marking the first time any spacecraft had ever successfully made a close-up study of another planet. It flew by Venus as planned at a range of 34,762 km (21,600 miles), scanning the planet’s atmosphere and surface for 42 minutes.
The spacecraft showed that surface temperature on Venus was at least 425°C (797°F) on both the day and night sides, hot enough to melt lead. It also showed that Venus rotates in the opposite direction from most planets in our solar system, has an atmosphere mostly of carbon dioxide with very high pressure at the planet’s surface, continuous cloud cover and no detectable magnetic field. It also found the solar wind streams continuously and that the density of cosmic dust between planets is much lower than it is near Earth.
NASA has named the site where twin agency spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut Sally K. Ride, who was America’s first woman in space and a member of the probes’ mission team.
Last Friday, Ebb and Flow, the two spacecraft comprising NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, were commanded to descend into a lower orbit that would result in an impact Monday on a mountain near the moon’s north pole. The formation-flying duo hit the lunar surface as planned at 2:28:51 p.m. PST (5:28:51 p.m. EST) and 2:29:21 p.m. PST (5:29:21 p.m. EST) at a speed of 3,760 mph (1.7 kilometers per second). The location of the Sally K. Ride Impact Site is on the southern face of an approximately 1.5-mile-tall (2.5-kilometer) mountain near a crater named Goldschmidt.
“Sally was all about getting the job done, whether it be in exploring space, inspiring the next generation, or helping make the GRAIL mission the resounding success it is today,” said GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “As we complete our lunar mission, we are proud we can honor Sally Ride’s contributions by naming this corner of the moon after her.”
The impact marked a successful end to the GRAIL mission, which was NASA’s first planetary mission to carry cameras fully dedicated to education and public outreach. Ride, who died in July after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, led GRAIL’s MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) Program through her company, Sally Ride Science, in San Diego.
Along with its primary science instrument, each spacecraft carried a MoonKAM camera that took more than 115,000 total images of the lunar surface. Imaging targets were proposed by middle school students from across the country and the resulting images returned for them to study. The names of the spacecraft were selected by Ride and the mission team from student submissions in a nationwide contest.
“Sally Ride worked tirelessly throughout her life to remind all of us, especially girls, to keep questioning and learning,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. “Today her passion for making students part of NASA’s science is honored by naming the impact site for her.”
Fifty minutes prior to impact, the spacecraft fired their engines until the propellant was depleted. The maneuver was designed to determine precisely the amount of fuel remaining in the tanks. This will help NASA engineers validate computer models to improve predictions of fuel needs for future missions.
“Ebb fired its engines for 4 minutes 3 seconds, and Flow fired its for 5 minutes 7 seconds,” said GRAIL project manager David Lehman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It was one final important set of data from a mission that was filled with great science and engineering data.”
The mission team deduced that much of the material aboard each spacecraft was broken up in the energy released during the impacts. Most of what remained probably is buried in shallow craters. The craters’ size may be determined when NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter returns images of the area in several weeks.
Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow had been orbiting the moon since Jan. 1, 2012. The probes intentionally were sent into the lunar surface because they did not have sufficient altitude or fuel to continue science operations. Their successful prime and extended science missions generated the highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body. The map will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.
“We will miss our lunar twins, but the scientists tell me it will take years to analyze all the great data they got, and that is why we came to the moon in the first place,” Lehman said. “So long, Ebb and Flow, and we thank you.” JPL manages the GRAIL mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. GRAIL is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.
Join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #GRAIL. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect .
For the mission’s press kit and other information about GRAIL, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/grail . You can follow JPL News on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/nasajpl and on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/nasajpl .
[I would prefer it to be the Sally K. Ride Crater not the “Sally K. Ride Impact Site”- ed]
Tethys may not be tiny by normal standards, but when it is captured alongside Saturn, it can’t help but seem pretty small.
Even Saturn’s rings appear to dwarf Tethys (660 miles, or 1,062 kilometers across), which is in the upper left of the image, although scientists believe the moon to be many times more massive than the entire ring system combined. This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 18 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 19, 2012.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 63 degrees. Image scale is 86 miles (138 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. 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, Colo.
Marshall Space Flight Center is testing a new robotic lunar lander test bed that will aid in the development of a new generation of multi-use landers for robotic space exploration. The test article is equipped with thrusters that guide the lander, one set of which controls the vehicle’s attitude that directs the altitude and landing. On the test lander, an additional thruster offsets the effect of Earth’s gravity so that the other thrusters can operate as they would in a lunar environment.
The Cassini team sends “bats wishes” for a happy, healthy and fun Halloween.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.
[Happy Halloween from sic itur ad astra as well - ed]
Marie Curie, the backup for the 1997 Mars Sojourner rover, sits next to a next-generation Mars Exploration Rover in this December 2002 photo. Sojourner went to Mars as part of the Pathfinder mission, which laid the groundwork for the more advanced Mars Exploration Rovers.
[Mother and daughter photo - ed]
An approximate natural-color image shows Saturn, its rings, and four of its icy satellites.
[Voyager’s encounter with Saturn did produce some amazing images and this is just one of the many that could have been chosen - ed]