Featured Missions & Projects - Planetary Systems Laboratory (693)
The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) is an instrument on the Cassini spacecraft, now orbiting Saturn. CIRS records infrared spectra of Saturn, its satellites, and its rings. The CIRS scientific team studies the temperature structure, dynamics, and composition of the atmosphere of Saturn and Titan. The team also studies the thermal structure of Saturn's rings, and the nature of warm structures on icy satellites such as Enceladus. CIRS is sensitive to wavelengths from 7 to 1000 micrometers, using several different detectors. The full CIRS scientific team is international in scope, with co-investigators located in the U.S., England, France, Germany, and Italy. Michael Flasar of Goddard's Planetary Systems Laboratory is the Principal Investigator.
The New Horizons spacecraft, launched on January 19, 2006 from the Kennedy Space Center on an Atlas V rocket, quickly became the fastest spacecraft to reach the moon as it headed out into the solar system on its journey to Pluto and then beyond to the Kuiper Belt. On Feb. 28, 2007, New Horizons had a close flyby of Jupiter, using the giant planet for a gravity assist. Personnel in Goddard's Planetary Systems Laboratory were involved in the planning and analysis of science observations of Jupiter using the New Horizons cameras, and also the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's IRTF, in support of the flyby. More recently, New Horizons passed Saturn's orbit on June 8, 2008 (too distant for a gravity assist or observations) and is now en route to a Pluto encounter in July 2015.
Goddard's Heterodyne Instrument for Planetary Wind And Composition (HIPWAC) is used at ground-based facilities, often at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. With HIPWAC, scientists probe planetary atmospheres for chemical and dynamical information at exceptionally high spectral resolution. HIPWAC has made valuable observations of a variety of solar system bodies, including Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Neptune, and Venus.
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is scheduled for a December 2012 launch, and will contain the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), an instrument that will image Earth?s landmasses. TIRS was designed at the Goddard Space Flight Center where it is now being fabricated and calibrated. Major components include the quantum-well infrared photodetector focal-plane assembly, the telescope assembly, the scene select mechanism/mirror, the mechanical cryocooler that cools the focal plane to 43 K, the SIDECAR ASIC based Focal Plane Electronics, and the Main Electronics Box. TIRS data will be used world wide for environment monitoring and resource management. Applications include water-consumption monitoring, volcano surveillance, vector-borne disease potential evaluation, fire-induced vegetation depletion, and urban heat island studies. Data will be processed, merged into a single product, and distributed by the United States Geological Survey/Earth Resources Observation and Science center.
The EPOCh investigation observed Earth, the Moon, and Mars to characterize them as analogs for possible extrasolar planets. This project recorded images over time of the entire disc of Earth and Mars over 24-hour periods using seven colors of visible light and near-infrared wavelengths (1-4.5 microns). The Moon was observed over a few hours during one of the Earth observations. This unique data set is enabling explorations of the properties of distant earth-like planets to prepare for efforts some day to directly detect and understand such objects.
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