Phaeton Group's Rocket Launches From New Mexico
Recent college grads who work for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., successfully launched a sounding rocket 120 kilometers (75 miles) above Earth's surface on Monday, Dec. 6, from the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The four onboard cameras recorded real-time ground imagery throughout the flight, both after launch as the rocket climbed beyond the atmosphere, and during its descent back to White Sands. Those data will be compared with existing maps to develop terrain-modeling algorithms. This project will improve precision landing for future missions to Mars and other locations.
Members of the Phaeton group, a rapid-training program for early career hires at JPL, submitted a proposal to NASA's Hands-on-Project Experience. The program, created by NASA in November 2008, aims to give rising engineers, scientists and others the opportunity to move a small mission from concept to launch to post-flight analysis. In May 2009, the Phaeton group was selected to move forward with their proposed project, called Terrain Relative Navigation and Employee Development, which they refer to as Trained.
More information about the Trained project is online at: http://phaeton.jpl.nasa.gov/external/projects/terrain.cfm .
Image credit: White Sands Missile Range