MSL's Mission to Mars - November 26, 2011
On November 26, 2011, the Curiosity Rover launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission. Once landing on Mars in August 2012, the rover will spend 23 months after landing gathering samples of rocks and soil. Curiosity's goal is to assess whether Mars ever had, or does still have today, an environment capable of supporting microbial life and habitability. Video courtesy of NASA.
GRAIL's Mission to the Moon - September 10, 2011
On September 10, 2011, the GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) Mission launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket traveling to the moon. Two spacecrafts were carried aboard and will be used to orbit the moon for several months collecting data measurements of the gravity field. GRAIL's observations will help scientists to better understand the interior structure and thermal evolution of the Moon, and will assist in determining landing sites for future missions. Video courtesy of NASA.
JUNO's Mission to Jupiter - August 5, 2011
On August 5, 2011, guests cheered to the sounds of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch for NASA's JUNO mission to Jupiter. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be the spacecraft's final destination in July of 2016. At the time of launch, Jupiter was expected to be 445 million miles away from the Earth.
Juno will orbit Jupiter 33 times for approximately one year, skimming close to the surface above the planet's cloud tops every 11 days. Juno's primary goal is to map the gravitational and magnetic fields of Jupiter, which will help gain more understanding of the origin and evolution of the planet.