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Blog Archive


What did Dawn learn at Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/09 03:53 CDT | 12 comments

It's now been two years since Dawn wrapped up its work at the second-largest asteroid. What else did we get from the Vesta encounter besides great photos? Recently, I asked Dawn's deputy project scientist, Carol Raymond, for help in summarizing a few of the big things Dawn taught us.

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All That is Known About Bennu

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/09/24 11:01 CDT | 1 comments

The OSIRIS-REx Design Reference Asteroid (DRA) document is now available to the public. The DRA is a compilation of all that is known about the OSIRIS-REx mission target, asteroid (101955) Bennu.

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Last Chance to Fly Your Name to Asteroid Bennu

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/09/22 04:00 CDT | 1 comments

You have just until September 30, 2014 at 23:59 Pacific time, to submit your name, and to tell your friends and family to submit their names, to fly to asteroid Bennu and back on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.

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Pretty pictures: Vesta's dark material

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/05 10:38 CDT | 1 comments

More masterful processing of Dawn Vesta images by Björn Jónsson, including Aelia crater and some mysterious dark splats near Fulvia crater.

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Submit Predictions to Fly in an Asteroid Time Capsule
and Remember to Fly Your Name

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/09/02 07:50 CDT | 1 comments

You have four weeks left (until September 30, 2014) to submit names to send to an asteroid, and now you can also separately submit space exploration predictions or images to send in a time capsule to and from that same asteroid. Both sets of information will fly etched on microchips on board the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.

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Dawn Journal: From HAMO to LAMO and Beyond

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/09/02 06:40 CDT | 10 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on the Dawn mission, its plans from high to low altitude mapping orbits at Ceres, and what the intrepid spacecraft will pursue next.

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Dark mountain on Vesta: Aricia Tholus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/28 03:07 CDT | 1 comments

Newly processed images of one of the more puzzling features on the surface of Vesta: a dark mountain named Aricia Tholus.

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The Osirian Asteroid Family

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/07/28 02:04 CDT

The asteroid community recently gathered in Helsinki, Finland for the 12th Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors Conference. As this meeting showed, one of the hottest topics in asteroid science is the study of asteroid families.

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I've been asteroided! (274860) Emilylakdawalla

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/16 07:22 CDT | 13 comments

What a great piece of news to receive upon returning home from vacation! There is now a small piece of the solar system named for me: asteroid 274860 has been formally named "Emilylakdawalla" by the International Astronomical Union. Here is everything I've been able to learn about my namesake asteroid.

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Dawn Journal: Survey Orbit at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/06/03 09:59 CDT | 2 comments

This month Dawn's mission director Marc Rayman continues the preview of how Dawn will explore Ceres, this time in its survey orbit.

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The Planetary Society Supports NASA's Asteroid Initiative
But we need to know the cost

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/05/27 01:02 CDT | 22 comments

The Planetary Society strongly supports NASA's asteroid initiative, including the goal of redirecting an asteroid to the vicinity of the Moon. But an independent cost estimate is needed, and needed soon.

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New Horizons: Updates From the April 2014 Science Team Meeting

Posted by Simon Porter on 2014/05/07 06:36 CDT | 1 comments

New Horizons team member Simon Porter reports on the state of the mission and Pluto system science from the recent science team meeting at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

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Asteroid Workshop Streamed Public Lectures This Week

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/05/05 09:25 CDT | 1 comments

There is an asteroid threat and space debris workshop in Scotland this week that Planetary Society support helped lead to, and that will include two public lectures you can tune into live.

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Highlights From OSIRIS-REx Science Team Meeting #6

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/04/30 07:49 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx Science Team gathered at the University of Arizona from April 22–24, 2014 for their sixth meeting. Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta discusses a few of the highlights.

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Green Bank Telescope Helps Out an Old Friend

Posted by Tania Burchell on 2014/04/28 09:26 CDT

The Green Bank Telescope has been called into emergency service to play radar ping-pong on a close-by asteroid with Arecibo Observatory’s 100-meter William E. Gordon radio telescope.

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Spitzer Space Telescope Observations of Bennu

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/04/24 10:06 CDT

What can studying the thermal emission of Bennu with the Spitzer Space Telescope tell us about its physical properties?

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Arecibo Observatory operational after repairs to fix earthquake damage

Posted by Alessondra Springmann on 2014/04/09 09:48 CDT | 2 comments

Early in the morning on January 13, 2014, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck beneath the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico, damaging Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. The telescope is now operational after repairs and scientists have resumed observations. However, the future of Arecibo Observatory remains unclear due to funding uncertainties in the federal budget.

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LPSC 2014: Water on...Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/21 04:03 CDT | 3 comments

At the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Jennifer Scully discussed possible water-carved gullies in an unusual location: within craters on Vesta. Water-carved gullies on Mars I can accept; but on an airless lumpy body? I was intrigued.

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Intro Astronomy Class 7: Near Earth Asteroids and the Jupiter System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/21 02:10 CDT

Examine the threat of near Earth asteroids and begin exploring the Jupiter System in this video of class 7 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Intro Astronomy Class 6: Mars (continued) and Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/14 06:10 CDT

Continue exploring Mars and learn about asteroids in this video of class 6 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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