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Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/10 12:21 CST | 4 comments

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

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SLS CubeSats to Set Sail for Deep Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/10 11:28 CST | 1 comments

When SLS launches Orion to the moon in 2018, a fleet of deep space CubeSats will come along for the ride, including a solar sailing spacecraft similar to LightSail.

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First Details of the 2017 NASA Budget Request
Few surprises within the Administration’s final vision of NASA

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/02/09 12:33 CST | 2 comments

There are few surprises in the Obama Administration's final budget proposal for NASA, though some progress is made in critical areas like science funding and NASA's overall funding.

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What Does a 'Good' Budget for Planetary Science Look Like?
How to evaluate the coming 2017 budget request and projections

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/02/08 05:31 CST | 1 comments

NASA's 2017 budget request comes out on Tuesday, here's how you can evaluate if the budget for the Planetary Science Division is good or not. It's not just about 2017, but the next five years.

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HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 3.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/05 12:53 CST | 1 comments

There have been tons and tons of HiRISE images of the Curiosity landing region, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to find, locate, and catalogue them. This post is a summary of what I've found; after five revisions and updates, it's now version 3.0 of the list.

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In Pictures: Orion Assembled and Shipped to Kennedy Space Center

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/05 10:33 CST

The shell of NASA's next Orion spacecraft has been welded together and shipped to Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Here's a photo recap of the assembly and transport process.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Turns 12! Embarks on Electric Slide
Sols 4244–4274

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/02/04 07:12 CST | 1 comments

On January 24th, the veteran Mars Exploration Rover (MER) wrapped the last day of her 12th year of surface operations on Mars, marking an extraordinary, historic achievement for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission.

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Three Things to Look for in NASA’s Coming Budget Request
Let the 2017 budget season begin

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/02/04 02:27 CST

The 2017 budget season is almost here. Next week, the White House will release its budget request for NASA. Here are three things I will immediately look for upon its release.

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30th anniversary images of Uranian moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/02 01:06 CST | 6 comments

January 24 was the 30th anniversary of the Voyager flyby of Uranus. Uranian moons have been on my mind ever since New Horizons sent us close-up images of Charon. On the occasion of the anniversary, Ted Stryk produced latest-and-greatest versions of the Voyager views of these worlds.

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Dawn Journal: Measuring Light

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/02/01 01:20 CST | 6 comments

Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman explains some of the measurements the Dawn mission is taking at Ceres, most of which depend on sunlight.

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First Look: Newest LightSail Spacecraft Unfurls Solar Sails

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/29 05:31 CST | 3 comments

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft successfully deployed its solar sails Thursday, wrapping up an initial round of system-level tests to prepare the CubeSat for flight.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 4270 - January 28, 2016

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2016/01/29 01:53 CST

On January 23rd, Opportunity celebrated its 12th anniversary of landing on Mars.

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What's up in solar system exploration: February 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/29 11:57 CST | 2 comments

What's going on with our robotic planetary missions? In February I count more than 20 planetary spacecraft exploring six targets beyond Earth or cruising to new destinations.

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Fun with a new data set: Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/28 07:08 CST | 26 comments

Here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.

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NASA Stays on Course for Asteroid Redirect Target

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/28 05:55 CST | 1 comments

NASA still plans to pluck a boulder off the surface of asteroid 2008 EV5, return it to lunar orbit and send a crew of astronauts for a visit in about ten years.

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Wide views of Mars from Mars Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/27 10:59 CST | 4 comments

Geologist and amateur space image processor Justin Cowart has dug into the Mars Express archives and located some lovely, wide views across great swaths of the Martian globe.

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Running Down a Comet

Posted by Joseph Masiero on 2016/01/26 02:04 CST

The Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) telescope has discovered its first comet of 2016.

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Upgraded LightSail Software Completes First Round of Flight Testing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/26 05:04 CST | 2 comments

LightSail has completed its first round of flight testing. The spacecraft is now armed with new software that will transmit almost three times as much health and status data back to Earth than it did during last year's test flight.

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China invites public on-board its robotic missions; and how to download Chang'e data

Posted by Quanzhi Ye on 2016/01/25 10:50 CST | 1 comments

China plans a busy future in robotic space exploration. Besides the scientific merit, what interests me most about the upcoming Chang'e 4 mission is their intention to get the public involved.

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Europa Budget Bulge

Posted by Van Kane on 2016/01/25 07:04 CST

Van Kane explains how the key development for NASA’s mission to Europa will be an agreement on how the agency plans to accommodate the monetary bulge that will come from funding the mission.

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