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Our Global Volunteers: December 2015 Update

Posted by Kate Howells on 2015/12/17 08:03 CST | 2 comments

As 2015 wraps up, The Planetary Society celebrates yet another year of public outreach.

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Worth the wait: First public release of Rosetta science camera images of comet 67P

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/17 12:30 CST | 4 comments

Finally! It has been a long wait, but so worth it: the Rosetta OSIRIS science camera team has delivered the first pile of data from the rendezvous with comet 67P to ESA's Planetary Science Archive. I have spent a good chunk of the last three days playing with the data, and it's spectacular.

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New Crew Arrives at ISS following Docking Drama

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/15 07:41 CST | 1 comments

Following a picture-perfect launch and some last minute docking drama, Tim Kopra, Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko arrived safely to the International Space Station today.

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Planetary Deep Drill Field Test: Road Trip

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/12/14 11:32 CST

The Planetary Deep Drill is being tested in a California gypsum mine. Several Planetary Society staff took a road trip to visit the ongoing Honeybee Robotics test of this prototype robotic drill that could one day drill hundreds of meters into planetary ices.

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A Rosetta OSIRIS picture of comet 67P that's only hours old

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/11 10:22 CST | 2 comments

ESA announced today a new website at which the OSIRIS team will now be releasing images on a regular basis -- at least one per week -- and they will be recent. Even better news, all OSIRIS data taken through September 16, 2014 has been handed to ESA and its release is expected next week.

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Expedition 45 Crew Makes Nighttime Landing in Kazakhstan

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/11 10:10 CST

Three International Space Station crewmembers are safely back on Earth following a post-sunset Soyuz touchdown in Kazakhstan.

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Akatsuki's new orbit, first images, and science plans

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/09 06:30 CST | 9 comments

JAXA had a press briefing today to confirm the successful arrival of Akatsuki into Venus orbit. It's been a long time coming: today's announcement came twelve years to the day after Japan had to abandon efforts to put Nozomi into Mars orbit. They released lovely images and discussed future plans.

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Cygnus Arrives at Station, Marking Restart of U.S. Cargo Flights

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/09 10:48 CST

A Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station this morning, carrying more than three metric tons of critical crew supplies.

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Live from Sagamihara: Akatsuki in Orbit, Day 1

Posted by Sanjay Limaye on 2015/12/08 10:29 CST

One day after closest approach, Akatsuki is now speeding away from Venus at 4.09 kilometers per second and is 180,000 kilometers from the planet. In his last report from Sagamihara, Sanjay Limaye gets some updates on the new orbiter's trajectory.

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SpaceX, Partners Prepare for Falcon Return-to-Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/08 09:23 CST

SpaceX is preparing to return its Falcon rocket to service after the loss of a mission in June 2015. A backlog of payloads, including an ISS-bound Dragon cargo craft, await.

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Colors in Planetary Imaging

Posted by Travis Rector on 2015/12/08 08:26 CST | 5 comments

When looking at an image of, say, a galaxy, have you ever wondered to yourself, “Is this real?” Trevor Rector explains how astronomical images are processed.

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Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Posted by Björn Jónsson on 2015/12/07 06:59 CST | 1 comments

On the 20th anniversary of Galileo's orbit insertion around Jupiter, amateur image processor Björn Jónsson shares some of the mission's first images of Jupiter's iconic massive storm.

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Live from Sagamihara: Akatsuki Orbit Insertion Success!

Posted by Sanjay Limaye on 2015/12/07 10:16 CST | 7 comments

The Akatsuki team achieved something that no mission as done before – put a spacecraft into orbit around a planet using only the attitude control thrusters. An event that one could not even conceive or propose!

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After Weather Cooperates, Atlas Rocket Launches Cygnus Cargo Craft to ISS

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/06 05:28 CST

It took four tries for the weather to cooperate, but on Sunday afternoon, a Cygnus cargo spacecraft loaded with 3.3 metric tons of critical crew supplies launched toward the International Space Station.

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Live from Sagamihara: Akatsuki Orbit Insertion - Second Try

Posted by Sanjay Limaye on 2015/12/06 09:44 CST | 1 comments

Venus researcher Sanjay Limaye reports from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Sagamihara on the status of Akatsuki's second Venus orbit insertion attempt.

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Timeline for Akatsuki's second attempt at orbit insertion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/04 06:31 CST | 5 comments

This is it: Akatsuki's final chance at Venus orbit insertion. The rocket firing should begin on December 7 at 08:51 Japan time (December 6 23:51 UT / 15:51 PST) and last for 20 minutes. It will take two days for JAXA to determine whether the orbit has been changed enough for Akatsuki to stay at Venus.

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Bad Weather Fizzles Cygnus Launch Attempt (Again)

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/04 05:40 CST

A second launch attempt of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft bound for the ISS was scrubbed this evening, forcing ground controllers to schedule a third try Saturday at at 5:10 p.m. EST (22:10 UTC).

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Back from the Brink: Akatsuki Returns to Venus

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/12/04 01:08 CST | 2 comments

Perhaps forgotten by the general public in the West, a long-lost spacecraft is set to enter orbit around our sister planet in December, picking up where ESA’s Venus Express left off when its operations ended last year.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Reality Bites but Opportunity Climbs to "Treasure Trove"
Sols 4183–4213

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/12/03 06:51 CST

Opportunity faced the challenges of winter as well as technological issues in November, but pressed on, hiking up hill and into a geological treasure trove that may well present the scientists with the evidence they need to solve the clay mineral mystery of Marathon Valley.

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Dawn Journal: Descent to LAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/12/02 12:02 CST | 12 comments

Dawn's Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman previews what's in store as the spacecraft moves into its final mapping orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.

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