NASA Mars Insight



Cassini's successful mission of exploration to the Saturn system is over, but planetary scientists are left with a cornucopia filled with important new information that Cassini/Huygens sent back to Earth before its mission ended. A collaborative NASA/European Space Agency/Italian Space Agency mission, the robotic spacecraft was made up of two components. The first was the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Huygens Probe, that had been named in honor of the Dutch mathematician and astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), who discovered Titan. The Huygens Probe also closely observed Saturn's lovely system of gossamer rings. The second component, the NASA-designed Cassini Orbiter, was named after the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Dominico Cassini (1625-1712), who discovered four of Saturn's other intriguing, numerous, and icy moons. When President John F. Kennedy stated in 1960's that the US will go to the moon in less than a decade, most people were extremely skeptical. The reason for this stemmed from the fact that USSR had shown more accomplishments in the space race after the launch of Sputnik, which was the world's first satellite. Naturally, the skepticism was unfounded, since the US put all of its efforts in to the Moon program as billions of dollars were put in to it. The development of the Saturn rocket as well as the development of the Apollo lunar module took less than a decade, since the whole heart and soul of the American public was put into the Lunar program. Even the various tragedies such as the loss of Astronauts in the Apollo fire tragedy didn't deter the public. As a result, 1969 was an important year in the human history as mankind stepped into Lunar soil for the first time. Sadly, the program was discontinued and since the 1970's, no man has even stepped into the Lunar soil ever again. GRAIL has also generated new maps showing lunar crustal thickness. These maps have managed to uncover still more large impact basins on the near-side hemisphere of Earth's Moon--revealing that there are fewer such basins on the far-side, which is the side that is always turned away from Earth. This observation begs the question: How could this be if both hemispheres were on the receiving end of the same number of crashing, impacting, crater-excavating projectiles? According to GRAIL data, the answer to this riddle is that most of the volcanic eruptions on Earth's Moon occurred on its near-side hemisphere.