NASA is once again open for business in a big way. While we were out, several of our on-going missions achieved significant milestones, and although it will take a little time to fully assess the impacts of the government shut down on our other operations, this week will make clear we’re back to our core mission implementing America’s ambitious space program.
Our latest moon mission, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, entered lunar orbit on Oct. 6th, and now is preparing to begin its study of the moon’s atmosphere. We also are pleased that the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration currently orbiting the moon with LADEE achieved an error-free laser communication downlink with a data rate in excess of 300 megabits-per-second.
On Oct. 9th, our Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011 on a five-year journey to Jupiter, made its closest approach to Earth. This gave Juno a chance to take some stunning pictures of our planet and it gave us the opportunity to confirm that the spacecraft is operating as expected with a current trajectory that is “near perfect.”
Meanwhile, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft remains on track for a Nov.18th launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.