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Latest Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Stories

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2008-10-06 08:10:00

MESSENGER's engineering and operations teams convened at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., Sunday afternoon to confirm the health and readiness of the spacecraft. "All spacecraft sub-systems and instruments reported nominal operations indicating that MESSENGER is ready for its second encounter with Mercury," said MESSENGER Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan of APL. At 6:05 p.m. EDT the last bits of data from the spacecraft were received as it...

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2008-10-04 16:15:00

If you look at our "Where Is MESSENGER?" page, which displays the spacecraft's trajectory status, you'll see that we're right on Mercury's doorstep. MESSENGER's mission design and navigation teams met today at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to discuss the spacecraft's current trajectory to determine if a last-minute trajectory-correction maneuver would be needed. "Early this morning, the navigation team delivered the final ephemeris update for...

2008-06-14 13:27:08

Updated 6:35 p.m. ET Pluto's years-long identity crisis just got more complex today. The International Astronomical Union has decided on the term "plutoid" as a name for Pluto and other objects that just two years ago were redefined as "dwarf planets." The surprise decision is unlikely to stem ongoing controversy and confusion, astronomers say. Sidestepping concerns of many astronomers worldwide, the IAU's decision, at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Oslo, comes almost two years...

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2008-01-11 15:20:00

NASA will return to Mercury for the first time in almost 33 years on January 14, 2008, when the MESSENGER spacecraft makes its first flyby of the Sun's closest neighbor, capturing images of large portions of the planet never before seen. The probe will make its closest approach to Mercury at 2:04 p.m. EST that day, skimming 200 kilometers (124 miles) above its surface. This encounter will provide a critical gravity assist needed to keep the spacecraft on track for its 2011 orbit insertion...

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2007-10-20 08:35:00

Scientists scouting potential landing sites for NASA's next Mars rover mission are using new data from a powerful mineral-mapping camera to narrow the site selection. When NASA Mars Program officials and members of the Mars science community gather in California next week to pare down the list of candidate landing sites for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), they can refer to 125 new images from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). The images and accompanying...

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2007-05-01 15:35:10

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system, stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet's atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere. These new views include the closest look yet at the Earth-sized "Little Red Spot" storm churning materials through Jupiter's cloud tops; detailed images of small satellites herding dust and boulders through Jupiter's faint rings; and of volcanic eruptions and circular grooves on the planet's...

2006-10-24 16:15:00

NASA's Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft came within 2,990 kilometers (1,860 miles) of the surface of Venus early this morning during its second planetary encounter. The spacecraft used the tug of the planet's gravity to change its trajectory significantly, shrinking the radius of its orbit around the Sun and bringing it closer to Mercury. MESSENGER swung by Venus at 8:34 UTC (4:34 a.m. EDT), according to mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in...

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2005-08-05 12:53:08

Astrobiology Magazine -- NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, headed toward the first study of Mercury from orbit, swung by Earth today for a gravity assist that propelled it deeper into the inner solar system. Mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md, said MESSENGER's systems performed flawlessly. The spacecraft swooped around Earth, coming to a closest approach point of approximately 1,458 miles (2,347 kilometers) over central Mongolia at...

2005-06-13 15:10:00

The first spacecraft designed to study Pluto, the solar system's farthest planet, took the first steps on a long journey today when it was shipped from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. "” where it was designed and built "” to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for its next round of pre-launch tests. Proposed for launch in January 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft spent the past week in an APL vibration test lab, where...

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2005-05-31 15:05:31

Mercury-bound NASA probe snaps first approach shots before August flyby JPL -- NASA's Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft -- less than three months from an Earth flyby that will slingshot it toward the inner solar system -- successfully tested its main camera by snapping distant approach shots of Earth and the Moon. MESSENGER took a set of six pictures on May 11 with the narrow-angle camera in its Mercury Dual Imaging System, or MDIS. Earth was about 18.4 million miles (29.6 million...