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Asteroid 2867 Steins

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/11 02:01 CST

This description of asteroid 2867 Steins is based upon an article published in the January 8, 2010 issue of Science by H. Uwe Keller and numerous coauthors and on a related press release.

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Spirit's still "extricating"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/08 01:08 CST

It's been two months, now, that extrication efforts have been going on. It's discouraging that the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit isn't out of the trap.

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400 Years of the Galilean Satellites

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/07 03:34 CST

It was 400 years ago today that Galileo discovered smaller planets attending the planet Jupiter.

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Cassini VIMS sees the long-awaited glint off a Titan lake

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/17 04:28 CST

The Cassini mission announced today the first observation of a specular reflection off of a lake on Titan. A specular reflection is a mirror-like flash, and you only get one when you have a mirror-like surface -- very, very smooth.

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A teeny weeny bit of movement in Spirit's right front wheel

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/14 01:12 CST

The ever-vigilant Doug Ellison just posted this animation, which really actually does show a teeny tiny bit of motion in the right front wheel. If you don't notice any motion, look closer.

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Awesome Mars Express view of Phobos and Deimos together

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/11 11:24 CST

My inbox was exploding this morning with messages about a tremendously cool animation released this morning by ESA's Mars Express team. It shows Phobos crossing Deimos, in what's known as a "mutual event."

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Encouraging motion on Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/19 04:54 CST

It really looks like the second attempt at driving Spirit out of the trap has had the hoped-for result: some forward progress (maybe about a centimeter), and no evidence for further downward sinking.

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Opportunity's poking at Marquette Island; Cassini's catching dancing moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/18 04:58 CST

Since tomorrow's class is going to be on playing with raw images from the rovers and Cassini, I've been playing with recent raw images from the rovers and Cassini! I just thought I'd share a couple of the fun items I've been working with.

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Results of the first "Free Spirit" extrication drive, sol 2088: not much, as expected

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/17 03:20 CST

Even though all of us rover fans know that Spirit is really, really stuck, I think I'm not the only one who was secretly hoping that today's images downlinked from Spirit would show that the rover had magically popped out of the ground overnight. Of course, she didn't.

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Beautiful 3D animation of Spirit's environs in Gusev Crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/23 08:14 CDT

Doug Ellison has done it again: he's created a spectacular overflight of Gusev crater based upon digital elevation models of the terrain produced by the United States Geological Survey from HiRISE data.

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Opportunity's highway, and a tour of Block Island

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/15 12:35 CDT

Just a cool image to start the morning: after a 70-meter drive yesterday, Opportunity's following not one but two sets of its own tracks.

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A sunset into the dust

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/08/24 12:37 CDT

While Spirit has been stuck at Troy, it's been taking numerous opportunities to capture photos with dramatic twilight lighting. On sol 2,002 (three sols ago, or August 21), it gazed toward the setting Sun, snapping the shutter roughly once a minute.

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Triple asteroid 1994 CC rotation animation

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/08/06 10:39 CDT

From the "just plain cool" department. I love animations of planetary images and I love radar images of asteroids -- so this animation is doubly cool.

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Opportunity and Spirit updates: Both are now driving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/10/31 01:26 CDT

Another day, another drive: on sols 1,693 and 1,695 the Opportunity rover conducted two more lengthy drives to the south, totaling almost 200 meters. On the other side of the planet, Spirit is FINALLY in motion again.

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Some beautiful video from the Spirit and Opportunity landing sites

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/12 06:02 CDT

A majority of the people who work in planetary geology are usually associated with one or maybe two missions, doing all their research on the results from one instrument on one mission. But there are a few people whose expertise cuts across many space missions, and an even smaller number of people who seem to work on almost everything. Randy Kirk is one of those people.

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Shadows cast from Victoria's capes and bays

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/04/14 03:51 CDT

This is from the "just plain cool" department: An animation of the shadows of Victoria Crater as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, courtesy of Doug Ellison.

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Spirit, seen from space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/03/24 05:46 CDT

The HiRISE instrument on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter really is a spy camera in space. Check out this sequence of nine images from the HiRISE archives, which Doug Ellison pulled together into an animation covering more than a year of Spirit's mission.

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Opportunity watches the clouds drift by

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/02/12 04:11 CST

Opportunity is now following a rather leisurely autumn schedule, according to the latest update on the mission website. Some of the work Opportunity is doing involves staring skyward, looking for patterns in the clouds that pass overhead at this time of year. One of the guys at unmannedspaceflight.com has put together some nifty animations of the wispy cloud patterns.

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