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December 29, 2014 - New Year's Flyby

New Year’s Flyby Nearly a quarter century after the tantalizing views of Saturn provided by the twin Voyager spacecraft, an almost constant stream of high-resolution images of the Saturnian system began flowing from Cassini, the first spacecraft ever to orbit the magnificently ringed world. Arriving in orbit in July 2004, Cassini made its first close-up inspection of the enigmatic moon Iapetus on New Year’s Eve ten years ago this week. Iapetus has been known for centuries to possess one hemisphere that is significantly brighter than the other. This image from the New Year’s flyby shows the dark, heavily-cratered area called Cassini Regio, which covers nearly the entire leading hemisphere of Iapetus. At higher latitudes, and on the trailing hemisphere, the dark material thins to reveal a brighter, icy surface.

Image credit: NASA / JPL

Weekly Calendar

December 29, 2014 - January 4, 2015

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 29

Uranus 1° south of Moon

1980: STS-1 leaves Vehicle Assembly Building and rolls out to launch pad

Moon phase Tuesday 30

1957: Wernher von Braun proposes the Saturn-class launch vehicle

Moon phase Wednesday 31

New Year's Eve

1864: Robert Aitken born
2004: Cassini makes first flyby of Iapetus

Moon phase Thursday 1

New Year's Day

1801: Giuseppe Piazzi discovers asteroid Ceres

Moon phase Friday 2

1900: Leslie Peltier born
1920: Isaac Asimov born
1959: Luna 1 is first spacecraft to leave Earth’s gravitational field
1972: Mariner 9 begins mapping Mars
2004: Stardust encounters Comet Wild 2

Moon phase Saturday 3

Pluto in conjunction with Sun

1962: NASA publicly announces and names Gemini program
2004: Mars rover Spirit lands

Moon phase Sunday 4

Full Moon 11:53 PM ET
Earth at perihelion

1970: NASA cancels Apollo 20 mission; further production of Saturn V launch vehicles ceases

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