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A NASA spacecraft that will fly closer to the sun than any mission before will launch on a Delta 4-Heavy rocket in 2018, requiring a boost from the largest active launcher in the U.S. inventory and repeated flybys around Venus to reach an operating post inside the solar atmosphere.
As expected, NASA announced its selection of the United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket to dispatch the Solar Probe Plus mission from Earth. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral is set for July 31, 2018, at the opening of a 20-day launch window, NASA said in a press release.
The complete article, courtesy of Spaceflight Now, can be read here:
Our Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions — a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.
Scientists at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, the University of Colorado, and elsewhere have analyzed data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes, and observed a sudden and dramatic effect in the aftermath of a solar shockwave: The resulting magnetosonic pulse, lasting just 60 seconds, reverberated through the Earth’s radiation belts, accelerating certain particles to ultrahigh energies.
The complete story, courtesy of MIT News is found here:
The MAVEN spacecraft has completed the first of five deep-dip maneuvers designed to gather measurements closer to the lower end of the #Martianupper atmosphere.
“During normal science mapping, we make measurements between an altitude of about 150 km and 6,200 km (93 miles and 3,853 miles) above the surface,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado Boulder‘s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “During the deep-dip campaigns, we lower the lowest altitude in the orbit, known as periapsis, to about 125 km (78 miles) which allows us to take measurements throughout the entire upper atmosphere.”
The 25 km (16 miles) altitude difference may not seem like much, but it allows scientists to make measurements down to the top of the lower atmosphere. At these lower altitudes, the atmospheric densities are more than ten times what they are at 150 km (93 miles).
Read the full release here:, courtesy of University of Colorado, LASP
The Second walk-in maneuver of the deep-dip campaign completed successfully
The second #MAVEN deep-dip maneuver was executed yesterday (Feb. 11, 2015), with a delta-v (∆V) of 0.6 m/sec., which lowered the periapsis of the spacecraft by another 4 km. The first maneuver was carried out on Tuesday (Feb. 10) and lowered the periapsis by about 20 km.
The MAVEN spacecraft now has a periapsis altitude of ~130 km, where Mars’ atmosphere has an estimated density of 2.0 kg/km³
Post courtesy of
NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars
The #MAVEN navigation team has given the green light for today’s initial “walk down,” which will lower the periapsis of the spacecraft by about 20 km and begin a transition into an area of Mars’ upper atmosphere known as the “homopause.” This region of Mars’ atmosphere is about 30 times more dense than the area explored by MAVEN during its primary science mapping operations, with a density between 2.0 – 3.5 kg/km³.
The first maneuver of this initial “deep-dip” campaign will be carried out this afternoon (Feb. 10, 2015) and will lower the periapsis altitude to about 133 km. It is the first of three maneuvers that will “walk” the MAVEN spacecraft into the deep-dip density corridor.
Last week, mission operators successfully ran the full sequences for a “deep-dip demo,” which included everything except having the lower periapsis. The instruments were in their deep-dip modes and the spacecraft was in its deep-dip orientation for the test.
The first of five planned deep-dip campaigns will begin with a two-day “walk-down” into the target density corridor, which will be followed by five days with a periapsis in this corridor (~125 km), and then another two days of periapsis raising maneuvers to bring the spacecraft back into its nominal science mapping orbit.
For more information about MAVEN’s science mapping orbit, visit: