Toting an ultraviolet instrument designed and built by LASP, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made the first of 22 dives between the rings of Saturn and the gaseous planet today, the beginning of the end for one of NASA’s most successful missions ever.
Launched in 1997 and pulling up at Saturn in 2004 for the first of hundreds of orbits through the Jovian system, the Cassini-Huygens mission has fostered scores of dazzling discoveries. These include in-depth studies that date and even weigh the astonishing rings; the discovery of methane lakes on the icy moon Titan; hot water plumes found squirting from the moon Enceladus; and closeup views of the bright auroras at the planet’s poles.
NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission launched in March 2015 and placed four identical spacecraft into orbit around Earth to study a little-understood phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process of nature that happens in charged particles all across our universe. Reconnection occurs when magnetic field lines meet and reconnect in a different configuration, releasing a gigantic burst of energy in the process. MMS is the only mission currently dedicated to the study of this phenomenon.
In this presentation, Allison Jaynes will discuss the early results from the mission, and the key role LASP plays in the mission itself.
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft spent nearly two years orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, most of it at distances that allowed instruments to monitor and characterize the comet’s surface at unprecedented spatial scales.
Some of the more remarkable changes documented during Rosetta’s mission have been published today in the journal Science.