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Blog Archive

 

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 Hayabusa 2 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 Hayabusa 2, and China's Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 5 test vehicle. JAXA has articulated the new science plan for Akatsuki. Hayabusa 2'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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Planet Formation and the Origin of Life

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/02/09 10:47 CST | 4 comments

To understand the possible distribution of life in the Universe it is important to study planet formation and evolution. These processes are recorded in the chemistry and mineralogy of asteroids and comets, and in the geology of ancient planetary surfaces in our Solar System.

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Rising Stargirls: Girls of All Colors Learning, Exploring, and Discovering

Posted by Aomawa Shields on 2015/02/07 11:38 CST | 1 comments

Aomawa Shields discusses a workshop she designed for underrepresented girls in grades 6-8 that will teach key concepts in astronomy, highlighting what is beyond what we can see with our eyes, using nontraditional methods.

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Ceres coming into focus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/06 06:36 CST | 8 comments

The Dawn mission released new images of Ceres yesterday, taken on February 4, when Dawn had approached to within 145,000 kilometers. More details are coming into view, and they're fascinating. For one thing, there's not just one white spot any more: there are several.

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FOIA Request Sheds Light on NASA Mission Extension Process

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/06 04:01 CST | 3 comments

A FOIA request offers insight into NASA's planetary science extended mission review process, which seems, at best, confusing, and at worst—with adjectival ratings like “Very Good/Good”—arbitrary.

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2016 Budget: Great Policy Document and Much Better Budget Plan

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/02/05 07:25 CST | 12 comments

Van Kane gives a summary of the 53-page proposed Fiscal Year 2016 NASA Planetary Science budget.

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New Horizons returns first images from mission's Pluto approach phase

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/04 03:14 CST | 10 comments

Here they are, the first images of Pluto from the approach phase of the New Horizons mission. Science has begun; we're on the home stretch!

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Mars Orbiter Mission images Mars' moons, including the far side of Deimos

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/04 10:02 CST | 2 comments

Today I'm excited to show you some previously unreleased images from Mars Orbiter Mission, containing Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos.

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Take My Free Online College Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy CSUDH Class

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/02/04 05:00 CST

Our own Dr. Bruce Betts is once again teaching his Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy college course online. Come join him.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Completes 11th Year of Surface Operations!
Sols 3889 - 3918

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/02/03 05:54 CST

On January 24th, something wonderful happened on Mars. Opportunity completed her 11th year of exploring the surface of the Red Planet! The veteran rover couldn't exactly go to Disneyland to celebrate this amazing achievement, so she did what she loves to do – roved on.

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Ceres Coming Into View

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/02/03 05:23 CST | 1 comments

Dawn is on approach to Ceres, the largest of the asteroids, and is starting to resolve features.

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NASA Budget Lists Timelines, Costs and Risks for First SLS Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/03 10:45 CST | 2 comments

NASA will set the Space Launch System's inaugural flight date at the end of this year, according to the agency's 2016 budget request, which was released on Monday.

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It's Official: We're On the Way to Europa
President requests $18.5 billion for NASA in 2016, an increase of $519 million

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/02/02 08:55 CST | 7 comments

NASA's 2016 budget request increases the space agency's budget by $519 million, starts a new mission to Europa, increases funds to Commercial Crew, and threatens some long-running planetary missions.

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Flawed Beauties

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/02/02 05:03 CST | 1 comments

More examples of imperfect--but tantalizing--images from deep space.

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Winter Issue of The Planetary Report is Here!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2015/02/02 08:42 CST | 1 comments

The winter issue of The Planetary Report continues to hit Planetary Society members’ mailboxes and, for those of you who want your copy in digital form, it’s now posted on our website.

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Remembering Charles Townes

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2015/01/31 09:08 CST | 2 comments

Mat Kaplan honors the memory of a scientific pioneer.

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Camera now measuring even fainter Near-Earth Objects

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/01/30 07:03 CST

Camera purchased with the support of a 2009 Shoemaker NEO Grant is now on a new telescope providing follow-up measurements for even fainter near-Earth objects.

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