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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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9 Jan 2013 Cassini Top 10 Science Highlights -- 2012
The scientific discoveries made possible by the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn keep coming in at an astounding pace. How many layers does this solar-system-in-miniature have to unveil? As the data arrives, scientists the world over are digging deeper into the mysteries of the Saturnian system. Chosen by scientists on the Cassini mission, these 10 science highlights stood out in 2012.
7 Jan 2013 NASA's Big Mars Rover Makes First Use Of Its Brush
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed first-time use of a brush it carries to sweep dust off rocks. Nearing the end of a series of first-time uses of the rover's tools, the mission has cleared dust away from a targeted patch on a flat Martian rock using the Dust Removal Tool.  The tool is a motorized, wire-bristle brush designed to prepare selected rock surfaces for enhanced inspection by the rover's science instruments.
4 Jan 2013 Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay'
After imaging during the holidays, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity resumed driving Jan. 3 and pulled within arm's reach of a sinuous rock feature called "Snake River."  Snake River is a thin curving line of darker rock cutting through flatter rocks and jutting above sand. Curiosity's science team plans to get a closer look at it before proceeding to other nearby rocks.
3 Jan 2013 LADEE Project Manager Update
Engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, recently attached all of the solar panels to NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory, and prepared to transport the observatory to the National Technical Systems mechanical testing facility in Santa Clarita, CA.  LADEE is a robotic mission that will orbit the Moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface, and environmental influences on lunar dust.
19 Dec 2012 Cassini Top 10 Images of 2012
As the Cassini spacecraft roams the Saturnian system, each year it opens new windows on an amazing corner of our solar system. Images of mighty Saturn, its majestic rings, and the dynamic moons continue to stun us, offering ever-changing vistas that are truly inspiring. This collection of 10 best images was selected by the scientists on the mission.
18 Dec 2012 Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay'
The NASA Mars rover Curiosity this week is driving within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay," providing information to help researchers choose a rock to drill.  Using Curiosity's percussive drill to collect a sample from the interior of a rock, a feat never before attempted on Mars, is the mission's priority for early 2013.
17 Dec 2012 NASA GRAIL Lunar Twins Complete Their Last Burn
Ebb and Flow -- the two twin spacecraft of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission -- have begun their final rocket burns. They are scheduled to impact the moon at around 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 EST) on Dec. 17.  The two probes will hit a mountain near the lunar north pole, bringing their successful prime and extended science missions to an end. The two probes are being sent purposely into the moon because they no longer have enough altitude or fuel to continue science operations.
13 Dec 2012 NASA Probes Prepare for Mission-Ending Moon Impact
Twin lunar-orbiting NASA spacecraft that have allowed scientists to learn more about the internal structure and composition of the moon are being prepared for their controlled descent and impact on a mountain near the moon's north pole at about 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 p.m. EST) Monday, Dec. 17.  Ebb and Flow, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes, are being sent purposely into the lunar surface because their low orbit and low fuel levels preclude further scientific operations.
11 Dec 2012 Mars Rover Self-Portrait Shoot Uses Arm Choreography
The robotic arm on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera in more than 50 positions in one day to generate a single scene combining all the images, creating a high-resolution, full-color portrait of the rover itself.  A larger version of the previously released self-portrait is now available online, along with an animation video showing how it was taken, and a practice self-portrait taken earlier by Curiosity's test-rover double on Earth.
5 Dec 2012 Orbiter Spies Where Rover's Cruise Stage Hit Mars
During the 10 minutes before the NASA Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere to deliver the rover Curiosity to the surface, the spacecraft shed its cruise stage, which had performed vital functions during the flight from Earth, and then jettisoned two 165-pound (75-kilogram) blocks of tungsten to gain aerodynamic lift. Cameras on the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have imaged impact scars where the tungsten blocks and the broken-apart cruise stage hit about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of where Curiosity landed on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC).
4 Dec 2012 NASA Opportunity Rover Does Walkabout of Crater Rim
The latest work assignment for NASA's long-lived Mars rover Opportunity is a further examination of an area where the robot just completed a walkabout.
4 Dec 2012 NASA Announces Robust Multi-Year Mars Program; New Rover To Close Out Decade Of New Missions
Building on the success of Curiosity's Red Planet landing, NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. This announcement affirms the agency's commitment to a bold exploration program that meets our nation's scientific and human exploration objectives.
3 Dec 2012 NASA Mars Rover Fully Analyzes First Soil Samples
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.
28 Nov 2012 Halfway Between Uranus and Neptune, New Horizons Cruises On
On November 28, 2012, the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft passed the halfway point between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, zooming past another milepost on its historic trek to the planetary frontier.  New Horizons, launched in January 2006 and set to visit the Pluto system in July 2015, is the first spacecraft to cross this distant region since NASA's Voyager probes in the late 1980s.
26 Nov 2012 One Year After Launch, Curiosity Rover Busy on Mars
The NASA Mars rover Curiosity began its flight to Mars on Nov. 26, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., tucked inside the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft. One year after launch and 16 weeks since its dramatic landing on target inside Gale Crater, Curiosity has returned more than 23,000 raw images, driven 1,696 feet (517 meters) and begun helping researchers better understand the area's environmental history.
1 Nov 2012 Mars Longevity Champ Switching Computers
NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, already the longest-working spacecraft ever sent to Mars, will switch to some fresh, redundant equipment next week that has not been used since before launch in 2001.  Like many spacecraft, this orbiter carries a pair of redundant main computers, so that a backup is available if one fails. Odyssey's "A-side" computer and "B-side" computer each have several other redundant subsystems linked to just that computer.
24 Oct 2012 Pew! Pew! Take *That*, Mars!
On October 20, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover aimed its megawatt laser at the sand on Mars and blasted it 30 times in rapid succession, carving out a hole about 3 mm across.
18 Oct 2012 Mars Soil Sample Delivered for Analysis Inside Rover
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover, a capability at the core of the two-year mission.  The rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing this sample to determine what minerals it contains.
15 Oct 2012 A Long and Winding Road: Cassini Celebrates 15 Years
On October 15, 2012, NASA's Cassini spacecraft celebrated 15 years of uninterrupted drive time, earning it a place among the ultimate interplanetary road warriors.

Since launching on Oct. 15, 1997, the spacecraft has logged more than 3.8 billion miles (6.1 billion kilometers) of exploration -- enough to circle Earth more than 152,000 times. After flying by Venus twice, Earth, and then Jupiter on its way to Saturn, Cassini pulled into orbit around the ringed planet in 2004 and has been spending its last eight years weaving around Saturn, its glittering rings and intriguing moons.
4 Oct 2012 NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Prepares To Study Martian Soil
NASA's Curiosity rover is in a position on Mars where scientists and engineers can begin preparing the rover to take its first scoop of soil for analysis. The rover's preparatory operations will involve testing its robotic scooping capabilities to collect and process soil samples. Later, it also will use a hammering drill to collect powdered samples from rocks. To begin preparations for a first scoop, the rover used one of its wheels Wednesday to scuff the soil to expose fresh material.
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