|Space Mission News
||[Jan. 20th, 2012|09:25 pm]
- GRAIL Spacecraft Enter Lunar Orbit, Get New Names
The twin GRAIL spacecraft entered orbit around the moon early this year. They are measuring the distance between them for minute variations and thereby mapping the moon's gravity field. Following a contest open to schoolchildren, the twin probes have been given the callsigns Ebb and Flow. Perfect names!
- NASA Debunks 'UFO Sighting' on Probe Video Feed
The Stereo-B solar probe is in an interested polar orbit around the sun allowing it to get a view out across the inner solar system, including looking back at Earth. It sends a video feed back that, recently, had a weird enormous triangular shape moving across it. OMG! Aliens! NASA responded with, basically, "Dude, it's a lens flare. Simmer down."
- Voyager Instrument Heater Turned Off
Voyager 1, waaaaaay out beyond the solar system now, has had one of its last heaters turned off in order to conserve power. The RTG power system is producing less electricity and they are trying to keep the probe able to send signals back to Earth through 2025(!) when they were originally slated to end their missions in 1989.
- New Horizons Spacecraft Enters Final Cruise Toward Pluto
A longtime personal favorite, the New Horizons spacecraft goes into third and final phase of its cruise out to Pluto. Entering this phase, controllers are checking spacecraft health and trajectory. It begins actual observations in Jan 2015 and should arrive at (well, whiz past) Pluto in July of that year. It's a long wait but I'm really excited to see what we learn from the last unexplored (former) planet!