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Cassini Goes in for a Close up of Enceladus March 11, 2008

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Big day for NASA Cassini on March 12th as it zoom in for an extreme closeup of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

This daring flyby requires exquisite technical finesse, but it has the potential to revolutionize our knowledge of the geysers of Enceladus. The Cassini mission team is eager to see the scientific results, and so am I,” said Alan Stern, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington in a statement

Apparently Scientists and mission personnel have determined that flying at close distances to Enceladus poses little threat to Cassini because, despite the high speed of Cassini, the plume particles are small. Add that to the fact that Cassini regularly crosses regions made up of dust-size particles in its orbit around Saturn.

Neat stuff. Good luck Cassini and PLEASE don’t get burned.

Juno Set for Jupiter Flyby in 2016. October 11, 2007

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NASA is hard a work on its next Jupiter exploration craft called Juno.

This week NASA settled on an Atlas 5 model 551 rocket, provided by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, to launch the  $700 million Juno mission in August 2011.

According to NASA’s mission page:

Using a spinning, solar-powered spacecraft, Juno will make maps of the gravity, magnetic fields, and atmospheric composition of Jupiter from a unique polar orbit. Juno will carry precise high-sensitivity radiometers, magnetometers, and gravity science systems . Juno’s 32 orbits over 11 days will sample Jupiter’s full range of latitudes and longitudes. From its polar perspective, Juno combines in situ and remote sensing observations to explore the polar magnetosphere and determine what drives Jupiter’s remarkable auroras.

Personally I think this sounds VERY LAME – especially in comparison to what the Galileo probe accomplised with 1980’s era technology. Apparently NASA is really aiming low these days. What ever happened to the idea of long term orbits examining all of the Jovian system? Or like Galileo some kind of atmospheric probe?

NOPE. NASA may know the way to Jupiter – but the US Space Agency apparently has lost its adventurous ways.