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Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Our solar system is huge, so let us break it down for you. Here are 5 things to know this week: 

1. You Call the Shots


This July, when the Juno mission arrives at Jupiter, it will eye the massive planet with JunoCam. What adds extra interest to this mission is that the public is invited to help Juno scientists choose which images JunoCam will take. Now is the time to get involved.

2. Dawn Delivers


We’ve seen several images now from the Dawn spacecraft’s new, close orbit around Ceres—and they don’t disappoint. Exquisitely detailed photos of the dwarf planet reveal craters, cliffs, fractures, canyons and bright spots in many locations. “Everywhere we look in these new low-altitude observations, we see amazing landforms that speak to the unique character of this most amazing world,” said the mission’s principal investigator.

3. Remembering the Visit to a Sideways World


Jan. 24 is the 30th anniversary of Voyager 2’s Uranus flyby. The seventh planet is notable for the extreme tilt of its axis, its lacy ring system and its large family of moons—10 of which were discovered thanks to Voyager’s close encounter. In fact, we learned much of what we know about the Uranian system during those few days in 1986.

4. A Decade in the Deep


The New Horizons spacecraft left Earth 10 years ago this week. Its long voyage into deep space is, even now, transforming our understanding of the outer solar system. New data and pictures from the Pluto flyby are still streaming down from the spacecraft. Pending the approval of an extended mission, New Horizons is en route to a 2019 rendezvous with a small, unexplored world in the distant Kuiper Belt.

5. Power at a Distance


Space exploration helped drive the development of practical solar cells, and now solar power has gone farther than ever before. Last week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft broke the record for the most distant solar-powered craft when it passed a distance of 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the sun. The four-ton Juno spacecraft draws energy from three 30-foot-long (9-meter) solar arrays festooned with 18,698 individual cells.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week about the solar system HERE. 

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