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Place names on Lutetia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/26 05:56 CDT

Whenever we explore someplace new -- a new island, a new continent, a new cave, a new world -- there's a necessary activity that explorers must perform before they can sensibly tell the world about their discoveries: name things.

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So far, no moons found at Ceres or Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/15 02:37 CDT

Since the Galileo mission discovered tiny Dactyl circling Ida in 1993, quite a lot of asteroid systems have been found to be binary; there are even a few triples. So it's quite reasonable to guess that two of the biggest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, might also have satellites.

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Welcome to Carnival of Space #191

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/05 11:25 CDT

Welcome, everyone, to the Planetary Society Blog for the 191st Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

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In honor of Stardust: The Annefrank encounter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/24 04:32 CDT

Since Stardust is being decommissioned today I thought it'd be fitting to take a look back at one of its data sets. I hadn't fiddled with the Annefrank data set before, and it was small and easy to deal with.

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LPSC 2011: Analysis of the grains returned by Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/16 12:39 CDT

I'd been despairing of finding a good source for a writeup of the presentations in the Hayabusa session at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, but am happy to report that I've finally found an excellent one.

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LPSC 2011: Day 1: Small bodies

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/08 12:28 CST

Here are some of the noteworthy items from the morning's session on "Small Bodies: A Traverse from NEOs to TNOs" and the afternoon's session on "Asteroid Geophysics and Processes: Surfaces and Interiors."

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A dog-bone-shaped asteroid's two moons: Kleopatra, Cleoselene, and Alexhelios

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/23 12:47 CST

Asteroid (216) Kleopatra has been interesting to astronomers for a long time because its brightness is highly variable, but it seems to get more interesting every time somebody looks at it with a new instrument. This week a paper was published in Icarus revealed that it's 30 to 50% empty space.

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Close approach to Earth turns Apollo into Aten

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/08 12:49 CST

Last week we got buzzed by a very small asteroid, something that happens fairly often. But there were several details that made the close approach of asteroid 2011 CQ1 worthy of note.

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How much is Vesta's geology controlled by its one huge impact feature?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/07 02:09 CST

Here's a neat paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters: "Mega-ejecta on asteroid Vesta." In it, Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug consider Vesta's shape -- which appears to be dominated by a very large impact crater centered at its south pole -- and ask how much of the great big asteroid Vesta's global appearance is likely to be dominated by the effects of that one large impact.

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Dawn Journal: ORT ORT ORT

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/02/03 12:10 CST

Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.

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2010 JL33: How to see an asteroid from quite a long way away

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/13 11:42 CST

A terrific set of Goldstone radar images of a good-sized near-Earth asteroids named 2010 JL33 was posted to the JPL website yesterday. They also posted a movie version but something about these pixelated radar image series absolutely begs for them to be displayed as an old-school animated GIF, so I made one.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: The Flight of Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/12 10:50 CDT

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, The Flight of Hayabusa, a recap of that dramatic mission.

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Hayabusa's return: a review

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/13 04:47 CDT

Hayabusa's return: round up some of the amazing photos, movies, and artworks that were posted and shared and Tweeted and re-Tweeted over the previous dozen hours or so.

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ESA mission analyst suggests 2010 AL30 might be Venus Express rocket

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 10:30 CST

2010 AL30 zipped past us harmlessly about five hours ago. Because of its one-year orbital period, many people speculated it might be a manmade object, but 2010 AL30 might, in fact, be artificial.

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Goldstone detects "STRONG" radar echoes from 2010 AL30

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/12 10:05 CST

Radio scientist Lance Benner posted to the Minor Planets Mailing list this evening the following message: "We have detected STRONG radar echoes from 2010 AL30 at Goldstone."

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2010 AL30: Watch out for low-flying asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/12 11:52 CST

In less than 24 hours, a newly discovered asteroid known as 2010 AL30 will be zipping past Earth at an altitude of approximately a third the Earth-Moon distance. There's no chance it'll hit us, but it's generating a lot of excitement in the community of amateur and professional near-Earth asteroid observers.

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Results from the Rosetta Encounter with Asteroid 2867 Steins

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/11 01:12 CST

Last week in Science magazine appeared the first peer-reviewed article on the results of Rosetta's September 2008 encounter with the smallish main-belt asteroid Steins. This morning I got a chance to sit down and read the article, and I wrote up a summary.

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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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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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