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.

Video of laser flash on Martian rock (NASA)

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The sparks that appear on the baseball-sized rock (starting at :17) result from the laser of the ChemCam instrument on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover hitting the rock.

ChemCam’s laser zapping of this particular rock was the first time the team used Curiosity’s arm-mounted Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera to try and capture images of the spark generated by the laser hitting a rock on Mars. Their efforts were a success.

The video is compiled from single images from the MAHLI camera, taken during the 687th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (July 12, 2014).

Since Curiosity landed in Mars’ Gale Crater in August 2012, researchers have used ChemCam’s laser and spectrometers to examine more than 600 rock or soil targets. The laser itself has been fired more than 150,000 times. The process, called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, hits a target with pulses from the laser to generate sparks, whose spectra provide information about which chemical elements are in the target. Multiple laser shots are fired in sequence, each blasting away a thin layer of material so that the following shot examines a slightly deeper layer. In this case, “Nova” displayed an increasing concentration of aluminum as a series of laser shots from the rover penetrated through dust on the rock’s surface.

source: NASA Rover’s Images Show Laser Flash on Martian Rock