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Blog Archive

 

China's lunar sample return mission will pave way for future ambitions

Andrew Jones • April 06, 2017

Later this year, China is launching the Change'5 spacecraft to return a sample from the Moon. The mission will pave the way for future ambitions, including crewed trips to the lunar surface.

Finding spacecraft impacts on the Moon

Phil Stooke • February 20, 2017

Over nearly 60 years of spacecraft exploration of the Moon, lots of spacecraft have crashed on the lunar surface—some accidental, some intentional. Phil Stooke hunts for their impact sites.

What's up in the solar system, October 2016 edition: ExoMars arrives!

Emily Lakdawalla • October 04, 2016

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrives on October 19, and it will deliver the Schiaparelli lander to its brief life on the Martian surface. Juno's headed into its science orbit, MOM has released science data, and New Horizons will finally finish downlinking Pluto flyby data.

Yutu is NOT dead (probably)

Emily Lakdawalla • August 10, 2016

Despite what you may have read on other websites last week, China's Yutu lunar rover is probably still functional on the surface of the Moon.

Plans for China's farside Chang'e 4 lander science mission taking shape

Emily Lakdawalla • June 22, 2016

The future Chang'e 4 lunar farside landing mission is rapidly taking shape. Now the mission's team is coming to a consensus on the landing location, as well as on the mission's instrument package.

LPSC 2016: The Moon Keeps on Giving

Ryan Clegg-Watkins • April 14, 2016

There was no shortage of interesting lunar science talks at last month’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Dr. Ryan Clegg-Watkins highlights some of the interesting results for us.

What's up in solar system exploration: April 2016 edition

Emily Lakdawalla • April 04, 2016

This month (actually, today), Cassini had a relatively close flyby of Titan, and New Horizons will observe a very distant Kuiper belt object named 1994 JR1. Akatsuki has just fine-tuned its orbit around Venus, and Hayabusa2 has begun an 800-hour ion engine thrusting phase to steer it toward near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.

What's up in solar system exploration: March 2016 edition

Emily Lakdawalla • February 29, 2016

Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.

Fun with a new data set: Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data

Emily Lakdawalla • January 28, 2016

Here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.

China invites public on-board its robotic missions; and how to download Chang'e data

Quanzhi Ye • January 25, 2016

China plans a busy future in robotic space exploration. Besides the scientific merit, what interests me most about the upcoming Chang'e 4 mission is their intention to get the public involved.

Updates on China's lunar missions

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2016

It's official: China plans to send a lander mission to the lunar farside. A relay satellite will launch to the Earth-Moon L2 point in June of 2018, and a lander will follow at the end of 2018. The landing site may be within the south pole-Aitken basin.

Chang'e 5 test vehicle maps future sample return site

Emily Lakdawalla • September 03, 2015

This summer the Chinese space agency has been making progress toward its planned 2017 launch of the Chang'e 5 robotic sample return mission, performing low-altitude imaging of the future landing site.

What's up in solar system exploration: August 2015 edition

Emily Lakdawalla • August 10, 2015

I'm back from two weeks' vacation, so it's time to catch up on the status of all our intrepid planetary missions, from Akatsuki to the Voyagers and hitting the Moon, Mars, asteroids, comets, and Saturn in between.

A Sky Full of Stars

Bill Dunford • March 09, 2015

In pictures of the planets, the stars aren't usually visible. But when they do appear, they're spectacular.

Mini mission updates: Dawn in orbit; Curiosity short circuit; Rosetta image release; Hayabusa2 in cruise phase; and more

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2015

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, Hayabusa2, the Chang'e program, InSIGHT, and OSIRIS-REx.

A new mission for Akatsuki, and status updates for Hayabusa2 and Chang'e

Emily Lakdawalla • February 09, 2015

Brief updates on four ongoing missions: JAXA's Akatsuki and Hayabusa2, and China's Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 5 test vehicle. JAXA has articulated the new science plan for Akatsuki. Hayabusa2's ion engines have checked out successfully. The Yutu rover is still alive on the Moon, and Chang'e 5 test vehicle has successfully tested crucial rendezvous operations in lunar orbit.

Short updates on Akatsuki and Chang'e missions

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2015

A few recent newspaper articles provide some updates on the status of Japan's Venus mission, Akatsuki, and the service module of China's Chang'e 5 test vehicle, Xiaofei. In brief: Akatsuki still plans to attempt to enter orbit in December of this year, while Chang'e 5 T1 is headed to lunar orbit. Meanwhile, the Chang'e 3 mission has released an interesting image of M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy.

A new Chang'e 3 and Yutu image archive

Emily Lakdawalla • December 19, 2014

A treasure trove of newly released images from the Chang'e 3 program includes a photo sequence of a waxing Earth and lots of high-resolution views of rover and lander on the Moon.

Chang'e 5 test vehicle flying on to Earth-Moon L2

Emily Lakdawalla • November 03, 2014

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle service module did not follow the sample return capsule into Earth's atmosphere. Instead, it successfully performed a divert maneuver, and is now on its way to the Earth-Moon L2 point

Chang'e 5 test vehicle "Xiaofei" lands successfully

Emily Lakdawalla • October 31, 2014

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle landed successfully in Inner Mongolia today after an 8-day mission. It demonstrated technology that China plans to use for automated sample return by the Chang'e 5 mission in 2017.

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