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Blog Archive


At last, Ceres is a geological world

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/25 09:42 CST | 25 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.

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Dawn Journal: Ceres' Deepening Mysteries

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/02/25 02:00 CST | 15 comments

Even as we discover more about Ceres, some mysteries only deepen. Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update on Dawn as it moves ever closer to its next target.

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Ask Me Anything (on reddit) About NASA's Budget
11am PST/2pm EST Wednesday, Feb 25th

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/02/24 11:06 CST

Starting at 11am PST/2pm EST on Wednesday, the space policy team at the Society will hold an AMA (Ask Me Anything) about NASA's new budget and the process of space exploration.

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Spacewalk Timelapse Makes Cable Routing Look Fun

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/23 03:12 CST

A timelapse video shows two NASA astronauts as they became typical neighborhood cable technicians—except for the fact that they were wearing space suits.

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Clouds and Chasmata

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/02/23 10:03 CST | 2 comments

New landscapes from Mars Express.

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Curiosity update, sols 864-895: Drilling at Pink Cliffs

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/20 06:59 CST

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.

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How LightSail Holds Its Place in Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/20 04:00 CST | 3 comments

There are few systems aboard a spacecraft more important than attitude control. This infographic shows how LightSail holds its place in space.

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Why We Write to Congress
(P.S. It's Time to Write to Congress)

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/02/19 10:42 CST

It's time to write to Congress in support of planetary exploration. Why? Because it works.

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Our Global Volunteers: February 2015 Update

Posted by Kate Howells on 2015/02/19 04:45 CST

The Planetary Society has amazing volunteers doing outreach work around the globe. Check out what they've been up to recently!

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Mapping Europa

Posted by Björn Jónsson on 2015/02/18 01:38 CST | 2 comments

Several global maps have been made of Europa, but amateur image processor Björn Jónsson felt they could be improved—so he decided to make a new one.

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New Horizons spots Nix and Hydra circling Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/18 11:43 CST | 4 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.

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Planetary CubeSats Begin to Come of Age

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/02/17 05:41 CST | 3 comments

Van Kane rounds up some recent planetary mission concepts based on CubeSat technology.

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A Fresh Approach to Fundraising

Posted by Richard Chute on 2015/02/13 07:07 CST | 3 comments

We want you to know that we’ve been listening to you. Members have highlighted the number of fundraising appeals from The Society, and we agree that the number of requests should be streamlined.

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An active comet, from a distance

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 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.

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Cassini begins a year of icy moon encounters with a flyby of Rhea

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 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.

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In Pictures: DSCOVR Headed for Deep Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/12 09:48 CST | 4 comments

On Wednesday evening, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocketed into orbit with DSCOVR, the Deep Space Climate Observatory. Here's a photo and video roundup.

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Europe's Experimental Spaceplane Completes Successful Test Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/11 11:13 CST | 2 comments

The IXV spaceplane, designed to demonstrate reentry technologies, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean this morning after a successful, 100-minute test flight.

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Rosetta shifts from sedate circular orbits to swooping flybys

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 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.

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A new mission for Akatsuki, and status updates for Hayabusa2 and Chang'e

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/09 06:32 CST | 2 comments

Brief updates on four ongoing missions: JAXA's Akatsuki and Hayabusa2, and China's Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 5 test vehicle. JAXA has articulated the new science plan for Akatsuki. Hayabusa2'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.

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Two Days, Two Launches and Three Landings

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/09 04:38 CST | 4 comments

Within a two-day span, two rocket launches and three ocean landings are scheduled—one of which involves an autonomous spaceport drone ship.

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