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Blogs

Blog Archive

 

Development of the OSIRIS-REx Sampling System: TAGSAM and the SRC

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/04/21 04:55 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx team has been busy assembling and testing the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and the Sample Return Capsule (SRC).

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New views of three worlds: Ceres, Pluto, and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/16 03:17 CDT | 7 comments

New Horizons took its first color photo of Pluto and Charon, while Dawn obtained a 20-frame animation looking down on the north pole of a crescent Ceres.

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PROCYON update: Asteroid 2000 DP107 target selected, ion engine stopped

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/13 12:15 CDT | 3 comments

PROCYON (PRoximate Object Close flYby with Optical Navigation) is a microsatellite that launched on December 3 as a secondary payload with Hayabusa 2. The mission has now selected their asteroid flyby target -- a binary asteroid named 2000 DP107 -- but is reporting a problem with their ion engines.

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Planetary Defense Conference: Steps to Prevent Asteroid Impact

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/04/13 07:23 CDT

From Italy, Bruce Betts gives background and information at the start of the Planetary Defense Conference, which addresses the asteroid threat. Bruce summarizes steps to prevent asteroid impact.

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OSIRIS-REx Begins ATLO (Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations)

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/04/02 12:49 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx mission passed another major milestone. We now have approval to build the spacecraft.

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Dawn Journal: Preparing to Photograph Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/04/01 08:58 CDT | 10 comments

Dawn's Chief Engineer and Mission Director, Marc Rayman, explains why we haven't seen any new images of Ceres—and when we can expect them.

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Revitalized 0.81m telescope studying properties of NEOs

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/03/31 11:04 CDT

Thanks to a new focal reducer and re-aluminized mirror from a Shoemaker NEO grant, a 0.81-meter telescope in Italy is performing astrometric follow-up observations and physical studies of asteroids.

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Ceres Gets Real; Pluto Lurks

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/03/27 04:10 CDT

Although we are still along way from understanding this fascinating little body, Ceres is finally becoming a real planet with recognizable features! And that's kinda cool.

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Meet NASA's Winning Asteroid Redirect Spacecraft, and the Asteroid It May Visit

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/25 05:52 CDT | 6 comments

NASA has decided to pluck a small boulder off a large asteroid, instead of bagging an entire asteroid outright, the agency announced Wednesday.

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LPSC 2015: First results from Dawn at Ceres: provisional place names and possible plumes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/19 06:29 CDT | 6 comments

Three talks on Tuesday at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference concerned the first results from Dawn at Ceres. Chris Russell showed a map of "quads" with provisional names on Ceres, Andreas Nathues showed that Ceres' bright spot might be an area of plume-like activity, and Francesca Zambon showed color and temperature variations across the dwarf planet.

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How Do We Know When We Have Collected a Sample of Bennu?

Posted by Kevin Walsh on 2015/03/17 04:19 CDT | 1 comments

A huge amount of effort goes into deciding where to try to collect a sample on Bennu. There are roughly nine months to survey, map and model the asteroid to help make this decision.

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Adding Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/13 05:47 CDT | 4 comments

Having found a color photo of the comet, I finally added Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids visited by spacecraft.

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Mini mission updates: Dawn in orbit; Curiosity short circuit; Rosetta image release; Hayabusa 2 in cruise phase; and more

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/06 11:42 CST | 1 comments

Dawn has successfully entered orbit at Ceres, becoming the first mission to orbit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two different bodies beyond Earth. I also have updates on Curiosity, Rosetta, Mars Express, Hayabusa 2, the Chang'e program, InSIGHT, and OSIRIS-REx.

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Dawn Journal: Ceres Orbit Insertion!

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/03/06 10:32 CST | 8 comments

Dawn's Chief Engineer, Marc Rayman, gives an update on the mission's highly anticipated arrival at Ceres.

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Seeing Ceres: Then and Now

Posted by Paul Gilster on 2015/03/06 09:33 CST | 1 comments

Technology writer Paul Gilster shares his interest in how we depict astronomical objects, focusing on the dwarf planet Ceres.

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Watch Ceres rotate: A guide to interpreting Dawn's images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/03 02:55 CST | 14 comments

NASA held a press briefing on the Dawn mission yesterday, sharing some new images and early interpretations of them. I see lots of things that intrigue me, and I'm looking forward to Dawn investigating them in more detail. I invite you to check out these photos yourself, and offer you some guidance on things to look for.

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At last, Ceres is a geological world

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/25 09:42 CST | 24 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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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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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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