Exploring the Dawn of the solar system

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Charley Kohlhase has been our ambassador to the planets

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So, the ‘Great Galactic Ghoul’ strikes again? This tongue-in-cheek entity is invoked by NASA scientists and engineers when missions experience difficulties, especially at Mars. After a seven month journey for ESA’s first ExoMars mission, contact with its Schiaparelli Lander was lost just before its scheduled touch-down on 19th October last year, although its Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) successfully entered into orbit around the Red Planet and is functioning well. However, rather than the work of a cosmic ‘gremlin’, the …

Last June, the NASA-JPL Dawn mission team received the Robert J. Collier Trophy from the U.S. National Aeronautic Association (NAA), at a presentation in Arlington, Virginia. It was presented to them ‘In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring proto-planet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering …

It is exactly one year since New Horizons hurtled through the Pluto system at 49,600 km/h, after a journey of nearly nine and a half years, its array of scientific instruments gathering precious data on this hitherto mysterious world and its family of moons. We shared in the thrill of the flyby and then watched in …

As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Huygens’ descent to the surface of Saturn’s giant satellite Titan, humanity’s first landing on an outer solar system moon, and the continuing success of its parent craft Cassini, we look forward to an extraordinary year of robotic solar system exploration in 2015, and one which should bring new …

Charley Kohlhase officially ‘retired’ from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1998. At his retirement party, a recording was played of Carl Sagan, who had died two years previously. ‘…. His voice suddenly, pleasingly rang through the room. From the afterlife, Sagan implored, “Charley Kohlhase’s name should be as well known as Michael Jordan’s!”’ (from ‘Ambassadors …