Thursday, August 30, 2012

NASA Van Allen Belts, Jupiter, Asteroid Missions Busy

NASA twin satellites to probe mysteries of the Van Allen belts

In a mission 11 years in the making, NASA today launched a pair of Johns Hopkins University satellites into the Van Allen radiation belts to study their structure in unprecedented detail.

Van Allen radiation belts
Those aren't giant smoke rings around Earth -- they're the Van Allen radiation belts, and two NASA satellites will be setting up shop there to study how those belts behave.
(Credit: J. Carns ,NASA/T. Benesch)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- An Atlas 5 rocket boosted a pair of satellites into the maelstrom of the Van Allen radiation belts early today, kicking off a $686 million mission to probe the structure of the belts and how they're buffeted by the sun and to improve forecasting to reduce the threat they pose to astronauts, power grids and increasingly critical satellite systems.
"Today, 11 years hard work was realized by the science team," said Nicola Fox, the deputy project scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. "They're now at home in the Van Allen belts where they belong. ... For the science team, the real work now begins. One big milestone was getting up there. The next big milestones are all of our scientific discoveries."


Source: .

Originally published Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Jupiter-bound spacecraft set for key maneuver

A Jupiter-bound spacecraft prepared to fire its engine Thursday for an important maneuver intended to bring it back toward Earth.
The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. — A Jupiter-bound spacecraft prepared to fire its engine Thursday for an important maneuver intended to bring it back toward Earth.
The engine burn was the first of two planned to set up NASA's Juno spacecraft to use Earth's gravity to accelerate it toward the outer solar system. The second engine firing will occur next week.
Launched last year, Juno is zooming toward an encounter with the giant gas planet in 2016.


Sources: Associated Press, The Seattle Times.

Dawn Spacecraft Leaving Huge Asteroid Vesta Next Week

Date: 30 August 2012 Time: 01:36 PM ET

Dawn spacecraft set to leave protoplanet Vesta
NASA's Dawn spacecraft arrived at the giant asteroid Vesta in July 2011 and is set to depart on Sept. 4, 2012 PDT (Sept. 5 EDT).

NASA's Dawn probe is gearing up to depart the giant asteroid Vesta next week and begin the long trek to the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt.
The Dawn spacecraft is slated to leave Vesta on the night of Sept. 4 (early morning Sept. 5 EDT), ending a 14-month stay at the 330-mile-wide (530 kilometers) body. The journey to Ceres should take roughly 2.5 years, with Dawn reaching the dwarf planet in early 2015, researchers said.


Source: .


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