Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist
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 UnmannedSpaceflight.com 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 on Mars: Design, Planning, and the First Mars Year of Operations, due out from Springer-Praxis in 2015. 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.
Latest Blog Posts
Posted 2015/02/25 09:42 CST | 18 comments
I've been resisting all urges to speculate on what kinds of geological features are present on Ceres, until now. Finally, Dawn has gotten close enough that the pictures it has returned show geology: bright spots, flat-floored craters, and enigmatic grooves.
Posted 2015/02/20 06:59 CST | 0 comment
Curiosity's second drilling campaign at the foot of Mount Sharp is complete. The rover spent about a month near Pink Cliffs, an area at the base of the Pahrump Hills outcrop, drilling and documenting a site named Mojave, where lighter-colored crystals were scattered through a very fine-grained rock.
Posted 2015/02/18 11:43 CST | 2 comments
A series of images just sent to Earth from New Horizons clearly shows Pluto's moons Nix and Hydra orbiting the Pluto-Charon binary.
Posted 2015/02/13 01:27 CST | 4 comments
Rosetta has closed to within 50 kilometers of Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on its way to a very close, 6-kilometer flyby of the comet tomorrow. To prepare for the flyby, Rosetta traveled much farther away, allowing it to snap these amazing photos of an increasingly active comet from a great distance.
Posted 2015/02/12 07:39 CST | 5 comments
At last! Cassini is orbiting in Saturn's ring plane again. I do enjoy the dramatic photographs of Saturn's open ring system that Cassini can get from an inclined orbit, and we won't be getting those again for another year. But with an orbit close to the ring plane, Cassini can repeatedly encounter Saturn's icy moons, and icy moon flybys are my favorite thing about the Cassini mission.
Posted 2015/02/10 12:35 CST | 9 comments
For the period of time before and after the Philae landing, Rosetta was able to orbit the comet close enough that it was in gravitationally bound orbits, circling the comet's center of gravity. As the comet's activity increases, the spacecraft has to spend most of its time farther away, performing occasional close flybys. The first of these is at 6 kilometers, on February 14.
Posted 2015/02/09 06:32 CST | 2 comments
Brief updates on four ongoing missions: JAXA's Akatsuki and Hayabusa 2, and China's Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 5 test vehicle. JAXA has articulated the new science plan for Akatsuki. Hayabusa 2's ion engines have checked out successfully. The Yutu rover is still alive on the Moon, and Chang'e 5 test vehicle has successfully tested crucial rendezvous operations in lunar orbit.
Posted 2015/02/06 06:36 CST | 8 comments
The Dawn mission released new images of Ceres yesterday, taken on February 4, when Dawn had approached to within 145,000 kilometers. More details are coming into view, and they're fascinating. For one thing, there's not just one white spot any more: there are several.
Latest Processed Space Images
Posted 2015/02/25 | 0 comments
Ceres bears many similarities to the mid-sized icy moons of the outer solar system. This collage compares Dawn images of Ceres taken on February 12, 2015, with photos of moons of Saturn and Uranus taken by the Voyager missions. The Ceres images are in the middle row. The top row contains moons of Saturn: two different views of Tethys, then Mimas and Rhea. The bottom row contains moons of Uranus: Umbriel and Oberon. All are shown at their original resolutions. The scale on the images varies, but the moons are all between 400 and 1500 kilometers across.
Posted 2015/02/12 | 0 comments
Cassini captured the 11 images used to assemble this mosaic on Rhea on February 9, 2015. It has been oriented so that north is up. The view includes some areas near Rhea's north pole that Cassini has not previously imaged at high resolution. The irregularly shaped crater near the terminator in the north is named Wakonda.
Posted 2015/02/06 | 0 comments
These four views of Ceres were captured on December 1, 2014 from 1.2 million kilometers, and on January 13, January 25, and February 4, 2015 from 383,000, 237,000, and 145,000 kilometers away, respectively. Ceres appears to grow as Dawn gets closer. The brightness and contrast of the images has been adjusted so that they match each other.