After a seven-year cruise through the Solar System, the joint NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft last night successfully entered orbit around Saturn. The Cassini orbiter is now ready to begin its four-year survey of the planet and its moons, while the Huygens probe will be prepared for the next major mission milestone: its release toward the largest moon, Titan, in December.
“This shows international space co-operation at its best,” said ESA’s Director of Science, Prof. David Southwood, after confirmation of the orbit insertion. “Few deep space planetary missions have carried the hopes of such a large community of scientists and space enthusiasts around the world. Congratulations to the teams in the US and Europe who made this possible and to all participants in the programme, who have a lot to do over the years ahead.” The Saturn Orbit Insertion was the last and most critical manoeuvre performed by the spacecraft to achieve its operational orbit. If it had failed, the spacecraft would have just flown past Saturn and got lost in the outer Solar System.
Cassini-Huygens was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 15 October 1997, atop a Titan 4B/Centaur, the most powerful expendable launch vehicle in the US fleet at the time. To reach Saturn it had to perform a series of gravity assist manoeuvres around Venus (April 1998 and June 1999), Earth (August 1999) and Jupiter (December 2000).
Guido De Marchi | alfa
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Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
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