Space

March 23, 2012

NASA’s Cassini mission receives Smithsonian’s highest honor

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has bestowed its highest group honor, the Trophy for Current Achievement, on NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn.

The annual award recognizes outstanding achievements in the fields of aerospace science and technology.

The trophy was presented March 21 during an evening ceremony at the museum in Washington. Established in 1985, the award has been presented to seven NASA planetary mission teams.

“This joint mission has produced an unprecedented science return,” said William Knopf, Cassini program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Missions like Cassini pave the way for future robotic and human exploration throughout our solar system and beyond.”

Launched in 1997, the Cassini spacecraft entered Saturn’s orbit in June 2004 with the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe bolted to its side. In December 2004, the spacecraft successfully released Huygens, which entered the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan. Cassini completed its prime mission in 2008 and has been extended twice. It is now in its so-called solstice mission, which will enable scientists to observe seasonal changes in Saturn and its moons during the planet’s northern summer solstice. The mission will last through September 2017.

“We look forward to sailing around the Saturn system for several more years to see how our views of the planet and its magnificent moons change as we get into northern summer solstice,” said Robert Mitchell, the Cassini program manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who accepted the award on behalf of the team.

The Cassini spacecraft carries 12 science instruments and investigations, with an additional six aboard Huygens. Cassini mission highlights to date include the discovery of four new moons and two new rings around Saturn. Cassini observed spraying water vapor and icy particle jets from the moon Enceladus. In Saturn’s northern hemisphere, the spacecraft watched the evolution of a monster storm, a sign of seasonal change from northern winter into northern spring.

Cassini and Huygens also revealed new characteristics about Titan, the only body in the solar system other than Earth with stable liquid on its surface.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s WISE spacecraft discovers most luminous galaxy in universe

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech This artist’s concept depicts the current record holder for the most luminous galaxy in the universe. The galaxy, WISE J224607.57-052635.0, is erupting with light equal to more than 300 ...
 
 

Air Force launches hush-hush mini-shuttle into space

A mysterious space plane rocketed into orbit May 20, carrying no crew but a full load of technology experiments. The Air Force launched its unmanned mini-shuttle late morning, May 20. An Atlas V rocket lifted it up and out over the Atlantic. This is the fourth flight for the military research program, which is shrouded...
 
 
Image courtesy NASA TV

Critical NASA research returns to Earth aboard U.S. SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

Image courtesy NASA TV The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 7:04 a.m., EDT, May 21. The capsule then performed a series of departure burns and maneuvers to ...
 

 

NASA, Canadian agency renew agreement to reduce aviation icing risks

On hand to sign the renewal agreement May 21 at the NRC offices in Ottawa, Ontario, were Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington, and Ian Potter, the NRC’s vice-president of engineering. “The combined efforts of our two agencies will help solve some of the most difficult and challenging weather-related...
 
 
ULA photograph

Space and Missile Systems Center successfully launches the AFSPC-5 mission

ULA photograph An Atlas V rocket successfully launches the AFSPC-5 mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., May 20, 2015.   The Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the AFSPC-5 mission aboar...
 
 

NASA’s CubeSat initiative aids in testing of technology for solar sails in space

With help from NASA, a small research satellite to test technology for in-space solar propulsion launched into space May 20 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. The Atlas V sent the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane on its fourth mission,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>