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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist

Extended bio
Appearance calendar
and head shots

Emily Lakdawalla is a passionate advocate for the exploration of all of the worlds of our solar system. Through blogs, photos, videos, podcasts, print articles, Twitter, and any other medium she can put her hand to, Emily shares the adventure of space exploration with the world.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from Amherst College and a Master of Science degree in planetary geology from Brown University. She came to The Planetary Society in 2001 to oversee a portion of the Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars project, an education and public outreach program on the Mars Exploration Rover mission funded by LEGO. She has been writing and editing the Planetary Society Blog since 2005, reporting on space news, explaining planetary science, and sharing beautiful space photos. She appears weekly on the Society's Planetary Radio podcast, answering listener questions or rounding up the latest space news from the blog.

Emily has been an Administrator of the forum since 2005, supporting a worldwide community of amateur space image processors. She is also a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine.

She is now writing her first book, tentatively titled Curiosity Rover: Design, Planning, and Field Geology on Mars, due out from Springer-Praxis in 2017. The book will explain the development, design, mission, and science of Curiosity with the same level of technical detail that she delivers in the Planetary Society Blog.

Emily can be reached at or @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Latest Blog Posts

Hidden Figures: Triumphant in the theater, sobering after

Posted 2017/01/10 06:48 CST | 5 comments

Go see Hidden Figures, and bring your kids. Despite its serious subject matter, the movie is joyful, often funny, and, in the end, triumphant.

Spaceflight in 2017, part 2: Robots beyond Earth orbit

Posted 2016/12/30 12:22 CST | 4 comments

What's ahead for our intrepid space explorers in 2017? It'll be the end of Cassini, but not before the mission performs great science close to the rings. OSIRIS-REx will fly by Earth, and Chang'e 5 will launch to the Moon, as a host of other spacecraft continue their ongoing missions.

Winter Solstice: A look at the solar system's north poles

Posted 2016/12/21 07:00 CST | 2 comments

Today is the solstice, the longest winter night at Earth's north pole, the longest day of summer in the south. To give a little light to northerners in darkness today, please enjoy this gallery of images of (mostly) sunlit north poles across our solar system.

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter takes in a rarely-imaged view of Phobos

Posted 2016/12/15 04:55 CST | 2 comments

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's science team enjoyed the opportunity in November to test out their science instruments on Mars. One of the tests involved imaging Phobos from an unusual angle.

Curiosity update, sols 1489-1547: Drilling at Sebina, driving up through Murray, drill problems at Precipice

Posted 2016/12/12 05:09 CST | 1 comment

It's been a drive-heavy two months for Curiosity. Since my last update, the rover has drilled at a site named Sebina, then traveled about 500 meters to the south across increasingly chunky-looking Murray rocks to a new attempted drill site at Precipice. They were planning to attempt a new drilling technique at Precipice, but encountered a new problem with the drill instead.

Schiaparelli investigation update; crash site in color from HiRISE

Posted 2016/11/23 11:28 CST | 11 comments

ESA issued an update on the Schiaparelli landing investigation today, identifying a problem reading from an inertial measurement unit as the proximate cause of the crash. Meanwhile, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is operating its science instruments for the first time this week, and HiRISE has released calibrated versions of the Schiaparelli crash site images.

Emily's recommended space books for kids of all ages, 2016

Posted 2016/11/22 10:23 CST | 3 comments

Emily's eighth annual kids' space book recommendation post includes lots of new books for kids of all ages, 0 to 18.

HiRISE coverage of the Opportunity field site, version 1.0

Posted 2016/11/18 05:28 CST | 1 comment

As she did before for Curiosity, Emily Lakdawalla has searched through the HiRISE image archive for photos of the Opportunity landing site and sorted them all out so that you don't have to.

Older blog posts »

Latest Processed Space Images

Murray formation outcrop, Curiosity sol 1512

Murray formation outcrop, Curiosity sol 1512

Posted 2016/12/12 | 0 comments

A 3-by-4-image mosaic of a typical outcrop of the Murray formation south of the Murray buttes, as seen by Curiosity's right Mastcam on sol 1512 (November 6, 2016). Thin sheets of dark sand cover some of the outcrop in this area. The rock varies in color, yellower in some areas and redder in others, with tracery of calcium sulfate veins cutting through. The veins have a variety of expressions, some appearing straight and others curved. Likely the veins are all flat and more or less planar; the curved appearance happens when nearly-flat layers are eroded at a very low angle. A circle of sand at upper left is the "noseprint" of Curiosity's APXS; left on the outcrop overnight, it acted as a wind barrier, and the wind dropped a load of sand around it.

Curiosity overview route map through sol 1536

Curiosity overview route map through sol 1536

Posted 2016/12/12 | 0 comments

A wide view of Curiosity's traverse from landing through sol 1536. The base image is from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter CTX, colorized with Mars Express HRSC image. The route is copied from official mission maps and Phil Stooke's maps. Yellow hash marks denote rover odometry. White circles represent drill sites; filled circles mark a few locations along the traverse between Yellowknife Bay and The Kimberley where there was some science but no drilling. The future route map is based upon the proposal for Curiosity's second mission extension.

Fighting the wind blowing the Sebina dump pile

Fighting the wind blowing the Sebina dump pile

Posted 2016/12/12 | 0 comments

On sol 1533, Curiosity dumped the leftover powder from the sample it had drilled at Sebina on sol 1495. Overnight, the rover placed the APXS instrument on the engineers' best-predicted spot for the location of the dump pile. In the morning of sol 1534, only a small amount of the reddish dump pile remained, the material that had been protected by APXS overnight. The rest had blown away in the wind. In its place, a broad pile of larger, darker sand grains that had fallen in the wind shadow made by the rover turret.

More pictures processed by Emily Lakdawalla »

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