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Blog Archive

 

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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How REXIS Made It on OSIRIS-REx

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2016/01/23 11:41 CST

The OSIRIS-REx instrument team has successfully installed the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) on the spacecraft. However, there is more to the story of how REXIS made it onto the spacecraft.

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xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/22 01:00 CST | 3 comments

Randall Munroe is a genius at disguising seriously educational infographics as funny jokes.

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NASA Could Choose Mars Human Landing Site during next Presidential Administration

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/22 05:03 CST

The place NASA intends to the land the first humans on Mars could be selected during the next presidential administration, according to the agency’s planetary science division director, Jim Green.

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Theoretical evidence for an undiscovered super-Earth at the edge of our solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/20 11:54 CST | 37 comments

It's looking likelier that there is an undiscovered planet orbiting beyond the Kuiper belt. If it's there, it's roughly 10 times the mass of Earth (or about half the mass of Neptune), likely never gets closer to the Sun than about 100 AU, and takes more than 10,000 years to orbit the Sun.

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Planetary Deep Drill Successfully Chews through Field Test

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/20 10:42 CST | 1 comments

Late last year, a small team from Honeybee Robotics went to a gypsum quarry to test Planetary Deep Drill, a technology prototype designed to chew tens—and eventually, hundreds—of meters beneath icy planetary surfaces.

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The Pioneer Plaque: Science as a Universal Language

Posted by Jake Rosenthal on 2016/01/20 08:02 CST | 7 comments

In 1972, an attempt to contact extraterrestrial life was cast into space with the launch of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. What exactly was the message we sent into the cosmos?

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Shadow Play

Posted by Adam Block on 2016/01/18 07:02 CST | 2 comments

Adam Block brings us his first images processed in the new year, showcasing the beautiful interplay of light and dark.

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SpaceX Successfully Launches Ocean Satellite but Breaks a Leg on Drone Ship

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/17 04:40 CST

The Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite reached orbit today, but SpaceX's third attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship came up short.

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Pretty pictures: Bittersweet goodies from Cassini at Titan, Enceladus, and Telesto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/15 02:00 CST | 7 comments

Tomorrow, Cassini will fly by Titan, picking up a gravity assist that will tilt its orbit slightly up and out of the ring plane. That will end what has been a wonderful year of frequent encounters with Saturnian moons.

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NASA Adds Dream Chaser Spacecraft to ISS Cargo Roster

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/15 12:27 CST | 4 comments

NASA is adding a miniature space shuttle to its fleet of commercial spacecraft capable of ferrying cargo to the International Space Station.

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Updates on China's lunar missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/14 03:39 CST | 2 comments

It's official: China plans to send a lander mission to the lunar farside. A relay satellite will launch to the Earth-Moon L2 point in June of 2018, and a lander will follow at the end of 2018. The landing site may be within the south pole-Aitken basin.

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