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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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17 Sep 2014 NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).
16 Sep 2014 Dawn Operating Normally After Safe Mode Triggered
The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned communication with NASA's Deep Space Network that morning. The spacecraft was not performing any special activities at the time. Engineers immediately began working to restore the spacecraft to its normal operational state. The team determined the source of the problems, corrected them, and then resumed normal ion thrusting on Monday night, Sept. 15.
11 Sep 2014 NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Arrives at Martian Mountain
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission's long-term prime destination.
8 Sep 2014 MAVEN spacecraft makes final preparations for Mars
On Sept. 21, 2014, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft will complete roughly 10 months of travel and enter orbit around the Red Planet. The orbit-insertion maneuver will be carried out as the spacecraft approaches Mars, wrapping up an interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers). Six thruster engines will fire briefly for a "settling" burn that damps out deviations in pointing. Then the six main engines will ignite two by two in quick succession and will burn for 33 minutes to slow the craft, allowing it to be captured in an elliptical orbit.
25 Aug 2014 New Horizons Crosses Neptune Orbit En Route to Historic Pluto Encounter
NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has traversed the orbit of Neptune. This is its last major crossing en route to becoming the first probe to make a close encounter with distant Pluto on July 14, 2015.
25 Aug 2014 Rosetta: Landing Site Search Narrows
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission has chosen five candidate landing sites on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for its Philae lander. Philae's descent to the comet's nucleus, scheduled for this November, will be the first such landing ever attempted. Rosetta is an international mission spearheaded by the European Space Agency with support and instruments provided by NASA.
7 Aug 2014 Cassini Prepares For Its Biggest Remaining Burn
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will execute the largest planned maneuver of the spacecraft's remaining mission on Saturday, Aug. 9. The maneuver will target Cassini toward an Aug. 21 encounter with Saturn's largest moon, Titan.The main engine firing will last about a minute and will provide a change in velocity of 41 feet per second (12.5 meters per second). This is the largest maneuver by Cassini in five years. No other remaining maneuver comes close, in the amount of propellant it will consume and the amount by which it will change the spacecraft's velocity. By contrast, the smallest maneuvers Cassini routinely executes are about 0.4 inches (10 millimeters) per second.
6 Aug 2014 Orbiter Completes Maneuver to Prepare for Comet Flyby
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted the timing of its orbit around Mars as a defensive precaution for a comet's close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. The orbiter fired thrusters for five and a half seconds on Tuesday, Aug. 5. The maneuver was calculated to place the orbiter behind Mars during the half hour on the flyby date when dust particles released from comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring are most likely to reach Mars. The nucleus of the comet will miss Mars by about one-third of the distance between Earth and Earth's moon.
5 Aug 2014 Curiosity Celebrates Two Years and Counting on Red Planet
NASA's most advanced roving laboratory on Mars celebrates its second anniversary since landing inside the Red Planet's Gale Crater on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, 2012, EDT).
15 Jul 2014 New Horizons Only One Year from Pluto
In July 2015, NASA will discover a new world. No one knows what to expect when the alien landscape comes into focus. There could be icy geysers, towering mountains, deep valleys, even planetary rings. At this point, only one thing is certain: Its name is Pluto.
10 Jun 2014 NASA Instruments on Rosetta Start Comet Science
Three NASA science instruments aboard the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus, are beginning observations and sending science data back to Earth. The three U.S. instruments aboard the spacecraft are the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), an ultraviolet spectrometer called Alice, and the Ion and Electron Sensor (IES). They are part of a suite of 11 science instruments aboard the Rosetta orbiter.
19 May 2014 Construction to Begin on 2016 NASA Mars Lander
NASA and its international partners now have the go-ahead to begin construction on a new Mars lander, after it completed a successful Mission Critical Design Review on Friday. NASA's Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission will pierce beneath the Martian surface to study its interior. The mission will investigate how Earth-like planets formed and developed their layered inner structure of core, mantle and crust, and will collect information about those interior zones using instruments never before used on Mars.
30 Apr 2014 Target on Mars Looks Good for NASA Rover Drilling
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used several tools to examine the candidate site over the weekend, including a wire-bristle brush -- the Dust Removal Tool -- to clear away dust from a patch on the rock. The target slab of sandstone has been given the informal name "Windjana," after a gorge in Western Australia.
22 Apr 2014 MESSENGER Completes Its 3,000th Orbit of Mercury, Sets Mark for Closest Approach
On April 20, MESSENGER completed its 3,000th orbit of Mercury and moved closer to the planet than any spacecraft has been before, dropping to an altitude of 199 kilometers (123.7 miles) above the planet's surface.
18 Apr 2014 NASA Completes LADEE Mission with Planned Impact on Moon's Surface
Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m. PDT Thursday, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent into the lunar surface. The spacecraft's orbit naturally decayed following the mission's final low-altitude science phase.
17 Apr 2014 NASA Rover Opportunity's Selfie Shows Clean Machine
In its sixth Martian winter, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity now has cleaner solar arrays than in any Martian winter since its first on the Red Planet, in 2005. Cleaning effects of wind events in March boosted the amount of electricity available for the rover's work.
16 Apr 2014 NASA Mars Orbiter Spies Rover Near Martian Butte
Scientists using NASA's Curiosity Mars rover are eyeing a rock layer surrounding the base of a small butte, called "Mount Remarkable," as a target for investigating with tools on the rover's robotic arm.
10 Apr 2014 Construction to Begin on NASA Spacecraft Set to Visit Asteroid in 2018
NASA's team that will conduct the first U.S. mission to collect samples from an asteroid has been given the go-ahead to begin building the spacecraft, flight instruments and ground system, and launch support facilities.
10 Apr 2014 Join in the Cassini Name Game
Starting in late 2016, the Cassini spacecraft will repeatedly climb high above Saturn's north pole, flying just outside its narrow F ring. Cassini will probe the water-rich plume of the active geysers on the planet's intriguing moon Enceladus, and then will hop the rings and dive between the planet and innermost ring 22 times. Because the spacecraft will be very close to Saturn, the team has been calling this phase "the proximal orbits." But they think someone out there can conjure up a cooler name. Here's where you come in: you can choose your faves from a list already assembled, or you can submit your own ideas (up to three).
8 Apr 2014 Images From NASA Mars Rover Include Bright Spots
Images taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on April 2 and April 3 include bright spots, which might be due to the sun glinting off a rock or cosmic rays striking the camera's detector. The image from April 3, from Curiosity's Navigation Camera, is online at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6135.
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014