Insight, a mission to explore Mars’ Interior

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So far the only way to get any information about the interior of rocky planets was from the moment of inertia which is related to a planets mass distribution. This only allowed to estimate if a planet has a mantle and what the estimated thicknesses of the core and mantle are. Of course, other (remote sensing) methods like potential (gravity and magnetic) fields can also give more information about a planets interior. However, the only solid way to determine the layer interface and their depth and thicknesses is seismic imaging, a popular technique used to image Earth’s subsurface and interior.

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Cassini – An exhilarating story of planetary exploration

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For more information: Cassini at Saturn

More on the Grand Finale (2nd dive: May 2, 2017; End of mission: Sept 15, 2017)

Drilling Through Ice

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Two things drive us: pursuit of happiness and curiosity.

via Great Big Story

Four Days at Saturn – Cassini full-frame video

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OSIRIS-REx on a mission to asteroid Bennu and back by 2023

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Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx mission, the first mission to sample an asteroid, was launched from Cape Canaveral on September 8. The launching rocket, an Atlas V 411, reached supersonic speed (video @ 01:10).

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Charles Elachi, director of JPL of Lebanese origins to retire in June 2016

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On October 28, 2015, Charles Elachi, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of Lebanese origins, announced his intent to retire by June 2016 to become a professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The following video includes Elachi’s announcement as well as an amazing summary of 15 years worth ofachievements at JPL & NASA

Full story @ JPL NASA

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During Elachi’s visit to Lebanon in May 2006.

Update on the Rosetta (comet) mission

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The Rosetta orbiter is continuing its science until the end of the extended Rosetta mission in September 2016. The lander’s future is less certain. This film covers some of what we’ve learnt from Philae about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko so far.

This includes information about the comet’s surface structure from the ROsetta Lander Imaging System – or ROLIS camera – a copy of which can be found at the German Space Agency, DLR, in Berlin.

Data from all Philae’s instruments has informed the work of the other scientific teams. Rosetta scientists have analysed grains from the comet and discovered that it contains carbon rich molecules from the early formation of our solar system.

The video also contains footage from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany – where a flight replica of Philae’s COSAC instrument is maintained in a vacuum chamber to test commands. COSAC has already detected over a dozen molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen from the dust cloud kicked up from landing.