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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

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

1. Up at Jupiter, It’s Down to Business

Ever since our Juno mission entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, engineers and scientists have been busy getting their newly arrived spacecraft ready for operations. Juno’s science instruments had been turned off in the days leading up to Jupiter orbit insertion. As planned, the spacecraft powered up five instruments on July 6, and the remaining instruments should follow before the end of the month. The Juno team has also scheduled a short trajectory correction maneuver on July 13 to refine the orbit.

2. The Shadows Know

Scientists with our Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed regions on the dwarf planet Ceres. Most of these areas likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years, suggesting that ice deposits could exist there now (as they do on the planet Mercury). Dawn is looking into it.

3. Frosts of Summer

Some dusty parts of Mars get as cold at night year-round as the planet’s poles do in winter, even in regions near the equator in summer, according to new findings based on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observations. The culprit may be Mars’ ever-present dust.

4. Can You Hear Me Now?

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is designed to sample an asteroid and return that sample to Earth. After launch in Sept., the mission’s success will depend greatly on its communications systems with Earth to relay everything from its health and status to scientific findings from the asteroid Bennu. That’s why engineers from our Deep Space Network recently spent a couple of weeks performing detailed tests of the various communications systems aboard OSIRIS-REx.

5. Cometary Close-ups

The Rosetta spacecraft has taken thousands of photographs of Comet 67/P. The European Space Agency (ESA) is now regularly releasing the highest-resolution images. The word “stunning” is used a lot when referring to pictures from space—and these ones truly are. See the latest HERE.

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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