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Solar System Exploration at 50
Exploration Stories: Favorite Historical Moments

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Europa's Ocean
Robert Pappalardo Since water is a clue to habitability, water at Europa is so important. It has really become such a key observation. So being an outer planet satellite scientists concentrating on Europa, one particular image really stands out to me. Rob Sullivan and I were involved with the planning of Europa images for the Galileo mission. While planning, I had a call from Jeff Moore (from NASA's Ames Research Center)... more read more of Robert Pappalardo story

Robert Pappalardo
Project Specialist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Europa's Ocean
Rob Manning
Rob Manning Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"Our view of these planetary bodies as large, round boring rocks was completely shattered by the flybys."
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Ayanna Howard
Ayanna Howard Georgia Tech University

"Spirit and Opportunity are now considered the gold-standard of robotics for long-term exploration in unknown and hazardous environments."
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Jim Adams
Jim Adams NASA Headquarters

"On the other end of the spectrum is a technology that has the potential to take us farther -- and faster -- than ever before: ion propulsion."
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Michelle Thaller
Michelle Thaller Goddard Space Flight Center

"No longer were the outer planets and their moons just fuzzy little blobs in the sky, but actual places we could imagine being."
more read more of Michelle Thaller story
William Borucki
William Borucki NASA Ames Research Center

"I find significant the missions and discoveries that have helped ... us understand the extent of life in our Universe and its formation."
more read more of William Borucki story
Amy Simon-Miller
Amy Simon-Miller Goddard Space Flight Center

"I think the Voyager 1 and 2 grand tour would have to be my choice for one of the greatest moments in NASA robotic history from the past 50 years."
more read more of Amy Simon-Miller story
Jeff Cuzzi
Jeff Cuzzi NASA Ames Research Center

"For a cornucopia of sheer eye-opening wonder and revelation of the unexpected, it is hard to match Voyager."
more read more of Jeff Cuzzi story
Paul Spudis
Paul Spudis Lunar and Planetary Institute

"Robotic spacecraft have flown by, hit, soft-landed on and orbited the moon, educating us in its processes and history in extensive detail."
more read more of Paul Spudis story
David Kring
David Kring Universities Space Research Association and Lunar Planetary Institute

"Nearly every robotic mission ever flown has opened our minds to new and different planetary processes ..."
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William Sjogren
William Sjogren Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"The most exciting planetary finding, for me, was the discovery of the Mascons on the moon and Mars with my colleague ..."
more read more of William Sjogren story
Ashley Stroupe
Ashley Stroupe Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"[The MER rovers'] greatest discovery to date was finding the first mineralogical evidence of many different water-related processes on Mars"
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Cassie Conley
Cassie Conley NASA Headquarters

"Viking was such an ambitious mission for planetary protection."
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Peter Jenniskens
Peter Jenniskens SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center

"In my field, the most significant robotic mission was the Stardust mission to comet Wild 2."
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Dave Doody
Dave Doody Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"Most significant event in the past 50 years? It was the successful creation and launch of the Voyager Mission."
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Mike Malin
Mike Malin Malin Space Science Systems

"There have been four truly significant missions of science to Mars: Mariner 4, Mariner 9, Viking, and Mars Global Surveyor."
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Julie Castillo-Rogez
Julie Castillo-Rogez Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"The Dawn mission is a fantastic example of ion propulsion and how it facilitates having multiple destinations."
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Steve Vance
Steve Vance Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"[T]he Galileo mission returned powerful science results despite all the difficulties."
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Nancy Grace Roman
Nancy Grace Roman NASA Headquarters

"This mission has given us a detailed picture of a terrestrial analog (Saturn's moon Titan) under quite different conditions ..."
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Yvonne Pendleton
Yvonne Pendleton NASA's Lunar Science Institute

"In contemplating the many extraordinary accomplishments in planetary science over the past fifty years, three missions spring to the top of my list."
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Paolo Bellutta
Paolo Bellutta Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"The Voyagers are now the most distant man-made objects -- they are humanity's ambassadors."
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Neil Gehrels
Neil Gehrels Goddard Spaceflight Center

"I was awestruck by the first pictures of eroded slopes and gullies on Mars. The year was 2007 and the pictures came from MRO."
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David Grinspoon
David Grinspoon Denver Museum of Nature and Science

"I just remember watching that old black and white TV the moment when that first picture was coming down live."
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Jim Kasting
Jim Kasting Penn State University

"The Hubble has done more for the field of astronomy than any other mission. It's easily NASA's most successful science mission ever."
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Suzanne Dodd
Suzanne Dodd Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"I think our search of knowledge and the ablilty to build machines to acquire this knowledge is our greatest achievement."
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Anita Cochran
Anita Cochran McDonald Observatory and University of Texas at Austin

"The most significant mission has been the Kepler mission because it has finally quantified how many planetary systems exist in the galaxy."
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Fran Bagenal
Fran Bagenal University of Colorado and the New Horizons Mission

"Voyager's exploration of the outer solar system is definitely significant in my opinion."
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Robert Mitchell
Robert Mitchell Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"The Viking landers and orbiters would have to be high on my list for this because they were a first, and they were completely successful ..."
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Claudia Alexander
Claudia Alexander Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"We see these pile-ups in the rings, and this causes us to wonder if there's a similar sort of condensation taking place ..."
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Ralph Carruth
Ralph Carruth Marshall Space Flight Center

"The images, were startling, and... continue to amaze us and added significantly to our understanding of these worlds."
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Amanda Hendrix
Amanda Hendrix Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"Io exhibits such tremendous amounts of heat and power - it is really incredible."
more read more of Amanda Hendrix story

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