NASA YEAR OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM!
(January 2011 to August 2012)
NASA has designated New Year 2011 the YEAR OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM. Spanning a Martian year of 23 months The Year of the Solar System honours the unparalleled discoveries made during NASA’s missions to explore both our neighbouring planets and also the outer edges of the Solar System. Throughout 2011 and into 2012 there will be new missions in the pipeline for the continued exploration of Jupiter, Earth’s satellite – the Moon, and Mars. Other exploratory missions will include ones to the asteroids and comets, the Sun, Mercury, Saturn and our home world Earth.
FEBRUARY 14 STARDUST NExT SPACECRAFT encounters COMET TEMPL 1, and MESSENGER enters orbit around MERCURY ON MARS 18 FEBRUARY 2011.
JULY 2011 DAWN SPACECRAFT will enter orbit round giant ASTEROID VESTA. The space probe has will spend one full year hopefully impressing researchers with ground breaking new information from this alien world.
AUGUST 11TH JUNO SPACECRAFT TO JUPITER will be launched. And the roving SCIENCE LAB’ CURIOSITY will be launched to MARS IN NOVEMBER 2011.
2012 Mars Rover OPPORTUNITY will head out into the heart of city sized impact crater ENDEAVOUR having travelled almost 2 miles from Opportunity’s original landing site.
The DAWN SPACECRAFT will fire up its ion engines and prepare to leave ASTEROID VESTA and for the first time in space history a spacecraft orbiting an alien world will break orbit and head out for another.
The YEAR OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM ends in August 2012 when the roving nuclear-powered SCIENCE LAB CURIOSITY lands on MARS. CURIOSITY with its advanced sensors and unmatched mobility is expected to open a whole new chapter in the exploration of the Red Planet.
News Flash!!…New Moon Rising!
Start Howling! New Moon rising (4 Jan) marks the first phase of the 2011 JANUARY FULL WOLF MOON (19 Jan)
Early morning January 4th will see the New Moon passing in front of a portion of the Sun creating a PARTIAL ECLIPSE, one of four throughout the year but the only one visible from Europe, Africa and E Asia, and from London at 07:47.
Also the darkness of the New Moon makes this an ideal time to view the QUADRANTID METEOR SHOWER on 3/4th January which with up to 90 meteors/hour will be the best and brightest shower of the New Year. So don’t forget to go check it out!