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Emily Lakdawalla

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla (2017, alternate)

Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist

[email protected]
+1-626-793-5100

Extended biography and head shots
List of publications

Emily is available for speaking engagements.

Emily Lakdawalla is an internationally admired science communicator and educator, passionate about advancing public understanding of space and sharing the wonder of scientific discovery.

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. She has been writing and editing the Planetary Society Blog since 2005, reporting on space news, explaining planetary science, and sharing beautiful space photos. In 2018, she became editor of the Society's member magazine, The Planetary Report.

Emily has been an active supporter of the international community of space image processing enthusiasts as Administrator of the forum UnmannedSpaceflight.com since 2005. She is also a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine.

Her first book, titled The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job, was published by Springer-Praxis in March, 2018. The book explains the development, design, and function of Curiosity with the same level of technical detail that she delivers in the Planetary Society Blog. A second book, Curiosity and Its Science Mission: A Mars Rover Goes to Work will follow in 2019.

She was awarded the 2011 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for her blog entry about the Phoebe ring of Saturn. Asteroid 274860 was formally named "Emilylakdawalla" by the International Astronomical Union on July 12, 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from The Open University in 2017 in recognition of her contributions in communicating space science to the public.

Emily can be reached at [email protected] or @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Latest Blog Posts

Programming note: Emily Lakdawalla speaking tour of New Zealand 23 September - 1 October

September 19, 2018

Attention Kiwi space fans! I’m embarking shortly on a speaking tour of New Zealand. I hope to meet lots of Planetary Society members and supporters, and sign a few copies of my book.

The September Equinox 2018 Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

September 18, 2018

With my first issue of The Planetary Report as editor, I am taking the magazine open-access. Return to Mercury features articles by Elsa Montagnon on BepiColombo and by Long Xiao on the Chang'e-4 and -5 landers.

Hayabusa2 stops short of close approach on first touchdown rehearsal

September 13, 2018

Hayabusa2 didn’t quite make it down to its intended 60-meter distance from asteroid Ryugu yesterday. There is nothing wrong with the spacecraft; it’s healthy and returning to its home position. The team will adjust parameters and give it another try in the future.

Curiosity update, sols 2093-2162: Three tries to successful drill atop Vera Rubin Ridge

September 06, 2018

Heedless of the (now-dissipating) dust storm, Curiosity has achieved its first successful drill into rocks that form the Vera Rubin ridge, and is hopefully on the way to a second. It took three attempts for Curiosity to find a soft enough spot, with Voyageurs and Ailsa Craig being too tough, but Stoer proved obligingly soft on sol 2136.

OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons catch first sight of their targets

August 29, 2018

Both OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons achieved first light on their still-distant targets this week. Between now and the end of 2018, Bennu and 2014 MU69 will turn from points of light into places.

Hayabusa2 Team Announces Ryugu Landing Sites, Initial Science Survey Results

August 24, 2018

Two months after arrival, the team has reported some preliminary facts about Ryugu. They also announced the selection of candidate landing sites for the spacecraft sample collection, for the German-built MASCOT hopper, and for the MINERVA-II microrovers

Chandrayaan-2 launch delayed to 3 January 2019

August 13, 2018

Chandrayaan-2, expected to launch in October, will now be launching no earlier than 3 January 2019, with its lander and rover touching down in February.

Hayabusa2 descends again, this time to lower than 1000 meters above Ryugu

August 10, 2018

This week Hayabusa2 completed its closest approach yet to asteroid Ryugu. In a successful gravity measurement experiment on August 6, the spacecraft dipped to within 1 kilometer of the asteroid.

Latest Processed Space Images

Map of HiRISE anaglyph image coverage for the Opportunity traverse

Not published yet

Blue boxes denote digital terrain models (DTMs). Green boxes are stereo pairs that are also available as anaglyphs. Purple box indicates an image pair that could potentially be converted into an anaglyph/DTM. Yellow line indicates Opportunity's traverse as of February 2014. Underlying CTX image is at 10 meters per pixel.

Hayabusa2's first touchdown rehearsal

September 13, 2018

On 11-12 September 2018, Hayabusa2 performed a dry run of most of the sequence it would need to perform in order to deposit a rover on the surface of Ryugu. The sequence aborted when the spacecraft got within 600 meters of the asteroid. On the way down, it observed its own shadow growing on the asteroid's surface. The images for this animation were taken by the wide-angle optical navigation camera.

Full rotation of Ryugu from optical navigation images

August 10, 2018

These 16 images of Ryugu taken with the optical navigation camera cover a full rotation of the asteroid, which takes 7.6 hours. The images were taken during Hayabusa2's closest-yet approach to the asteroid on 6 August 2018 with its wide-angle camera.

astronaut on Phobos
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