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.


 
 

 
nasa-astronaut

Astronaut Stephen Frick retires from NASA

Astronaut Stephen Frick has retired from NASA to accept a position in the private sector. Frick, who flew as both a shuttle pilot and commander, left the Agency July 13. Steve has been a great asset to the astronaut office and ...
 
 
NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt photograph

NASA’s Kepler mission discovers bigger, older cousin to Earth

NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt photograph This size and scale of the Kepler-452 system compared alongside the Kepler-186 system and the solar system. Kepler-186 is a miniature solar system that would fit entirely inside the orbit of ...
 
 
NASA photograph by A. Gemignani

Launch, docking returns ISS crew to full strength

NASA photograph by A. Gemignani The Soyuz TMA-17M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan July 22, 2015 carrying Expedition 44 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), F...
 

 
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI photograph

NASA’s New Horizons team finds haze, flowing ice on Pluto

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI photograph Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around ...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA satellite camera provides ‘EPIC’ view of Earth

NASA photograph Earth as seen on July 6, 2015, from a distance of one million miles by a NASA scientific camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft. A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) ...
 
 
NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI photograph

NASA’s New Horizons discovers frozen plains in heart of Pluto’s ‘heart’

In the center left of Pluto’s vast heart-shaped feature – informally named “Tombaugh Regio” — lies a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>