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Blog Archive

 

Field Report from Mars: Sol 4633 - February 6, 2017

Larry Crumpler • February 06, 2017

Several sols ago, Opportunity made it up and past the steepest section of its climb out of Endeavour crater.

Microbes exist deep inside Earth’s craters. Could this be the secret to finding life on other worlds?

Bryan J. Rodriguez-Colon • February 06, 2017

Earth possesses amazing biological diversity. Every corner of this planet—no matter how bizarre the place—is inhabited by microorganisms. This includes impact craters.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Celebrates the Big 1-3, Begins 14th Year of Ops!

A.J.S. Rayl • February 04, 2017

2017 got off to a start that was unprecedented in every good way: Opportunity completed her 13th Earth year of surface operations and drove the first overland expedition of the Red Planet into its 14th year.

Curiosity update, sols 1548-1599: Serious drill brake problem as Curiosity drives through Murray red beds

Emily Lakdawalla • February 03, 2017

Since my last update, the Curiosity mission has developed a better understanding of the problem that prevented them from drilling at Precipice, but its intermittent nature has slowed the development of a workable solution that will allow them to use the drill again. In the meantime, the rover has driven onward, making good use of its other instruments.

Dawn Journal: A New Perspective on Ceres

Marc Rayman • February 01, 2017

Dawn has moved into its sixth orbital phase, with a new sun angle that provides an opportunity to gain a new perspective on the asteroid Ceres.

Explorer of Enceladus and Titan

Van Kane • February 01, 2017

For the third time in less than a decade, scientists have proposed a multiple-flyby mission to explore the habitability of Saturn’s ocean moons Titan and Enceladus.

The Winter 2016 issue of The Planetary Report

Donna Stevens • January 27, 2017

The Winter 2016 issue of The Planetary Report is on its way to members’ doors, showcasing the stunning year in pictures.

Let's talk about this whole Moon vs. Mars thing for human spaceflight

Jason Davis • January 26, 2017

NASA's current human spaceflight goal is Mars, but the Trump administration could change that to the Moon. Is that a good idea? Here's an in-depth look at the differences in science gain, the arguments for and against a potential commercial market, and whether or not the technological and operational challenges required to reach the Moon apply to Mars.

Russia’s Proton rocket grounded by poor quality control

Anatoly Zak • January 25, 2017

Russia's workhorse Proton rocket may be grounded until June or July, dealing another blow to the country's launch infrastructure, which has been plagued by brain drain, mismanagement, poor quality control and corruption.

Need a break from Earth? Go stand on Mars with these lovely landscapes

Kevin Gill • January 25, 2017

Amateur space image processor Kevin Gill shares some of his stunning 3D images of Mars, created from real spacecraft data.

A writing sabbatical

Emily Lakdawalla • January 24, 2017

Four years ago, I announced that I was writing a book about Curiosity, describing the mission from its inception through its nominal mission. I am still not done, so am taking a three-month break from other work -- including this blog -- in order to focus and finish. I'm seeking scientists and engineers to serve as guest bloggers.

Amazing photos of tiny moons as Cassini orbits among the rings

Emily Lakdawalla • January 19, 2017

Behold: Daphnis, the tiny, 8-kilometer moon that orbits within a ring gap, gently tugging on the edges of the gap to create delicate scallops.

Here's what history has to say about when Trump's NASA administrator will take office

Jason Davis • January 19, 2017

This Friday, Charles Bolden resigns as NASA administrator after a stint of 2,744 days. Robert Lightfoot, the agency's highest-ranking civil servant, will take over as acting admin. How long will Lightfoot serve? If history serves as a guide, it could be a while.

Want to build on our LightSail work? Here are some resources to get started

Jason Davis • January 13, 2017

The Planetary Society is launching a new webpage showcasing LightSail academic papers, schematics, parts and imagery.

Blitzing Congress for NASA

Bill Gowan • January 12, 2017

Last February, a group called the Space Exploration Alliance held their annual "legislative blitz," walking the halls of Congress to sway lawmakers toward increased support for NASA's 2017 budget.

CYGNSS Launch: The Human Side

John Noonan • January 11, 2017

What is it like behind the scenes before, during, and after the launch of a spacecraft?

Hidden Figures: Triumphant in the theater, sobering after

Emily Lakdawalla • January 10, 2017

Go see Hidden Figures, and bring your kids. Despite its serious subject matter, the movie is joyful, often funny, and, in the end, triumphant.

SpaceX is ready to fly rockets again. An expert talks about the reason a Falcon 9 blew up last year

Jason Davis • January 10, 2017

SpaceX says they fixed a problem with the helium pressurization system that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket last year. The company pushes the boundaries of rocket science, creating an occasional jaw-dropping fireball in the process. But will the risk-reward equation change when SpaceX starts flying astronauts?

Lucy and Psyche Asteroid Missions

Van Kane • January 09, 2017

Last week, NASA selected its thirteenth and fourteenth missions in its low cost Discovery program.

Saturn's Ring Particles

Judy Schmidt • January 05, 2017

Artist and astrophotographer Judy Schmidt brings us a view from within the rings of Saturn.

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