Last week the PBS science series, Nova featured the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn & Titan with a show called Voyage to the Mystery Moon while 60 Minutes last night had a story on NASA’s Plans To Return Men To The Moon In Preparation For A Manned Flight To Mars.
NASA and the European Space Agency are teaming up for the most ambitious unmanned space project ever launched. Across more than 2 billion miles, it will battle the bitter cold of space, thread the rings of Saturn, survive the heat of entry and brutal impact of landing, and beam pictures and data back from Titan, its largest moon.
NOVA follows this fantastic voyage to Saturn, on a quest to solve some of the greatest mysteries of this alien world. Up next, Voyage to the Mystery Moon.
Apparently it was a repeat, since the original PBS Airdate was April 4, 2006. Whatever. It’s still a pretty good story.
I ran across an archived story I did on Dailywireless which as additional links and background.
The Mars Phoenix Lander was launched on 4 August 2007 from Cape Canaveral. It is designed to study the surface and near-surface environment of a landing site in the high northern area of Mars. The primary science objectives are to: determine polar climate and weather, interaction with the surface, and composition of the lower atmosphere around 70 degrees north for at least 90 sols. The HiRISE camera, on board Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, photographed possible landing sites.
The Mars trip will take 10 months, with landing on Mars on 25 May of 2008. The spacecraft is not mobile, it is supported on three landing legs. The science experiments and a robotic arm are mounted on the base. Communication will be primarity through UHF relay via the Mars 2001 Odyssey orbiter, but Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Express can also be used as relays, and Phoenix has a steerable medium gain X-band antenna to provide communications directly with Earth.
Both Mars Express and the Mars rovers use the same communication protocol. This protocol, called Proximity-1, was developed by the international Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, an international partnership for standardizing techniques for handling space data. CCSDS provides a forum for discussion of common problems of space data systems. Some 346 missions utilize the protocol.
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