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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3572 – February 10, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 12:49 CST | 5 comments

Opportunity is still exploring an outcrop high up on Murray Ridge as the winter solstice on Mars approaches. At this location the tilts are good, so Opportunity is getting excellent solar input on its solar panels.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3556 – January 24, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 12:18 CST

Today is the tenth anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Mars. Here at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, we just opened a tenth anniversary exhibit.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3519 - December 18, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 11:55 CST

Opportunity arrived at the location that has been the target of all this climbing since late last (Earth) summer. We will settle in for some detailed work on the outcrop here since this appears to be something different from the impact breccias that we have been seeing along the ridge crest.

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Sunset on Chang'e 3's third lunar day: Yutu not dead yet, but not moving either

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/24 12:38 CST | 4 comments

During the third lunar day of Change'3 surface operations the lander operated normally, performing ultraviolet astronomy and imaging Earth's plasmasphere. The rover's instruments were working, but the rover did not move.

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A Spin Through the Inner Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/24 09:57 CST | 1 comment

Animated maps of the planets show the spheres in motion.

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Intro Astronomy Class 3: Telescopes, the Moon

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/21 04:35 CST

Explore optical, radio, and space telescopes and the Moon in the video of class 3 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Sand Waves in the Desert
or “Pet Peeves and Deciphering Climate Change in the Solar System”

Posted by Lori Fenton on 2014/02/21 03:19 CST | 1 comment

I have a pet peeve: the words dune and ripple are often used interchangeably, although they are quite distinct from one another. So what’s the difference between aeolian dunes and ripples? And why should anybody care?

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Curiosity update, sols 540-8: New rules and longer drives

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/20 05:53 CST | 3 comments

Curiosity has tested a new driving mode -- backwards -- and achieved their longest single-day drive in three months. And they've committed to driving to the spot formerly known as "KMS-9," marking that commitment by giving it a name, "Kimberley." My route maps show you why Curiosity's views will be shifting, and Ken Herkenhoff's blog posts explain the daily activities.

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Predicting Pluto's moons and moondust

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/19 01:39 CST | 2 comments

Why didn't we discover Pluto's moons until more than a decade after Hubble launched? Mark Showalter helps me answer this question.

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Mission to a Metallic World: A Discovery Proposal to Fly to the Asteroid Psyche

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/02/19 07:45 CST | 1 comment

Imagine flying deep within the asteroid belt to study the most unreachable location in the solar system: the deep core of a terrestrial world.

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Intro Astronomy Class 2: How We Explore Space
Easy Things to See in the Night Sky, and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/18 05:50 CST

Learn easy things to look for in the night sky, and about the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves in the video of class 2 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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What are Mercury's hollows?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/18 09:33 CST | 10 comments

I've been fascinated by Mercury's hollows ever since MESSENGER discovered them. Two recent papers look at where they are found to try to figure out how they form.

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Missions to a Star

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/17 02:45 CST | 2 comments

Upcoming deep space missions will venture right to the heart of the Solar System.

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Bringing Orion Home: How the U.S. Navy will pluck our future astronauts from the sea

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/02/14 12:16 CST | 19 comments

When our future astronauts splash down into the Pacific Ocean aboard an Orion capsule, Mike Generale, NASA, and the U.S. Navy will be waiting for them.

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Curiosity Update, sols 534-540: Over Dingo Gap, onto softer sand

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/13 12:55 CST | 5 comments

After more than two months of very slow driving due to concern about the wheels and time spent choosing whether to enter "Dingo Gap" or not, Curiosity has safely crossed the dune and resumed longer drives, achieving 75 meters and crossing the 5-kilometer mark on sol 540.

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The Two Faces of Phoebe

Posted by Daniel Macháček on 2014/02/13 10:03 CST | 7 comments

Cassini flew past Phoebe on June 11, 2004, on its way to entering Saturn orbit. The flyby was almost perfect but overexposure of some images have prevented color mosaics from being produced. Even though Phoebe's body is gray and dull in color, the absence of color images always provoked me. By using VIMS data, I have now produced color mosaics.

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What is NASA for?

Posted by Craig Hardgrove on 2014/02/12 04:19 CST | 3 comments

Planetary scientist Craig Hardgrove takes a look at what NASA really does for humanity.

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Possible hope for Yutu: "Situation is getting better," but no details [UPDATED]

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/12 02:50 CST | 5 comments

A terse Xinhua news report posted today says there may be some sign of life from Yutu, now that the Sun has risen on the third lunar day since Chang'e 3 landed. It is frustratingly non-specific. UPDATE: Amateur radio operators have detected a radio signal from the rover.

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The 2014 Legislative Blitz is at Capacity!

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/02/11 06:25 CST | 1 comment

A tremendous response to our call for space advocates has pushed our small team to the limit. A great problem.

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Intro Astronomy Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/11 05:53 CST | 1 comment

Take a tour of the Solar System in the video of class 1 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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