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Saturday 12 December 2015

NASA goes to the Sun, pictures from around the solar system, and how Akatsuki got to Venus.....

NASA's mission to the Sun passes critical design review

There's been a lot of amazing science done by space platforms observing the Sun from a safe distance. But at some point you have to get stuck in there - and NASA agrees which is why they're sending the Solar Probe Plus mission to get closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before.

Above: The Sun. Here's why we don't give too much AI to space probes: NASA "Hey, why don't you fly into that?" Over AI'd space probe: "No." End of mission to the Sun.

How Akatsuki's engineers used an 'inspired hack' to get it into Venus orbit

The spirit of McGyver and Scotty must have been hanging about with JAXA engineers over the last year, because after their Akatsuki probe had an engine breakdown they used some audacious space navigation and engine hacks to get their ship where it wanted to go anyway. My fellow space geek and pro blogger Emily Lakdewalla explains how.

Above: He cannae change the laws of physics... unless, y'know, there might be a pay rise in it captain?

BBC has a good breakdown of future missions to Enceladus

This tiny moon has stunned the science community by turning out to hold a potentially habitable ocean beneath its icy crust. As the Cassini mission bids fare thee well to Enceladus for the last time the BBC science team take a look at what might be the next steps in exploring this icy moon...

Above: Enceladus, courtesy of JPL/NASA

Ancient star cluster reveals secrets of our galaxy's past

An incredibly ancient cluster of stars may hold clues to our galaxy's birth. As well as being incredibly ancient, and in the last days of its existence, the cluster is distorted into an odd rhomboidal shape by the gravity of surrounding stars.

Above: The incredibly ancienmt, dying, E3 star cluster.

Lastly, some very brain melting pictures from across the solar system:

The dunes and hills of Mars, courtesy of JPL/NASA/Thoma Appere

Akatsuki's first UV image of Venus, courtesy of JAXA.

The twisted landscape of comet 67-P, as of December 7th, courtesy of ESA.

The weird little moon Prometheus, set against Saturn's F ring, courtesy of JPL/NASA.

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