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What's up in the solar system, July 2016 edition: Juno to enter orbit, NASA missions all extended

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/01 03:49 CDT

Highlights this month include the impending arrival of Juno at Jupiter, the approval of extended missions for all of NASA's solar system spacecraft, and public data releases from Rosetta, New Horizons, and Cassini.

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Curiosity update, sols 1311-1369: Drilling at Lubango, Okoruso, and Oudam, and a turn to the south

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/15 05:24 CDT

Curiosity is at a turning point in its mission to Mount Sharp, both literally and figuratively. Having drilled at three sample sites in 7 weeks, the rover took a left turn, changing its trajectory from a generally westward driving path to a southward one. It is now poised to cross the Bagnold dune field at Murray buttes.

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Quick Curiosity update, sol 1320: "Lubango," the 10th drill site on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/25 11:15 CDT | 1 comments

Curiosity has drilled into Mars for the 10th time at a site named Lubango, on sol 1320 (April 23, 2016). Lubango is in a bright-toned halo around a crack in the Stimson sandstone unit on the western edge of the Naukluft Plateau.

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Moonset over Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/21 10:23 CDT | 1 comments

Enjoy this serene image of a moonset on another world, captured by Curiosity's Mastcam in April 2014 and processed here by Justin Cowart.

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Curiosity update, sols 1250-1310: Across the Naukluft Plateau

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/13 02:57 CDT | 8 comments

Curiosity has driven onward from Namib dune across a highstanding unit of rock called the Naukluft Plateau. Despite some frustrating sols lost to a short circuit in the RTG and DSN troubles, the rover has made progress, and performed lots of 3D imaging of weirdly wind-eroded rocks.

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LPSC 2016: Martian Geomorphology

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2016/04/04 08:01 CDT

Scientists showcased a wide range of features and processes on Mars' surface at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

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A Sunset on Mars: Crafting a scene from archival data

Posted by Justin Cowart on 2016/03/08 01:30 CST | 2 comments

Ever wanted to stand on Mars and watch a sunset? Unfortunately for many of us, it will never be something that we get to experience in person. But thanks to our robotic emissaries on Mars, and some careful processing of images from NASA's Planetary Data System, we can get a sense of what it’s like.

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Curiosity Rover: Design, Planning, and Field Geology on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/26 12:09 CST | 6 comments

Emily is back to work on her Mars Science Laboratory book, which has a new publication date and a new title.

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Light plays on a Martian crater rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/16 01:30 CST

Recently, space image processing enthusiast Thomas Appéré noticed that Curiosity had taken five photos of exactly the same spot on the rim of Gale crater, identical but for being taken at different times of day. That spot was due north of the rover, so the rising and lowering Sun illuminates the rounded hummocks of the crater rim differently from early morning to early afternoon.

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Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/10 12:21 CST | 4 comments

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

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HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 3.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/05 12:53 CST | 1 comments

There have been tons and tons of HiRISE images of the Curiosity landing region, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to find, locate, and catalogue them. This post is a summary of what I've found; after five revisions and updates, it's now version 3.0 of the list.

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Curiosity update, sols 1166-1217: First reconnaissance of Bagnold dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/07 08:09 CST | 4 comments

In the six weeks since my last detailed Curiosity update, the rover has driven to, on, and around a couple of active barchan sand dunes on Mars. They are now searching for a site to scoop and sample sand on the western edge of Namib dune.

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For the first time ever, a Curiosity Mastcam self-portrait from Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/22 06:17 CST | 1 comments

In a remarkable and wholly unexpected gift to Curiosity fans, the rover has just taken the first-ever color Mastcam self-portrait from Mars.

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Curiosity stories from AGU: The fortuitous find of a puzzling mineral on Mars, and a gap in Gale's history

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/18 05:51 CST | 1 comments

Yesterday at the American Geophysical Union meeting, the Curiosity science team announced the discovery of a mineral never before found on Mars. The finding was the result of a fortuitous series of events, but as long as Curiosity's instruments continue to function well, it's the kind of discovery that Curiosity should now be able to repeat.

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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/16 01:31 CST | 4 comments

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

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A Day in the Solar System: 28 October 2015

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/11/09 07:44 CST | 5 comments

On October 28th, the Cassini spacecraft flew through the geyser plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus. But Cassini was not the only spacecraft operating in the solar system that day.

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Curiosity update, sols 1073-1107: Driving toward dunes, distracted by haloes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/18 07:40 CDT | 1 comments

Since I last checked in with Curiosity, the rover has been steadily driving southward, heading directly toward the Bagnold dune field. They are looking for a place to drill into the Stimson sandstone unit, but have been distracted by intriguing pale haloes around frock fractures. Despite a rough road, the wheels are not showing significant increase in damage.

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The story behind Curiosity's self-portraits on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/19 03:52 CDT | 2 comments

How and why does Curiosity take self-portraits? A look at some of the people and stories behind Curiosity's "selfies" on the occasion of the official release of the sol 1065 belly pan self-portrait at Buckskin, below Marias Pass, Mars.

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Curiosity update, sols 1012-1072: Sciencing back and forth below Marias Pass

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/14 07:14 CDT

Since my last update, Curiosity has driven back and forth repeatedly across a section of rocks below Marias pass. The rover finally drilled at a spot named Buckskin on sol 1060, marking the drill's return to operations after suffering a short on sol 911. Now the rover is driving up into Marias Pass and onto the Washboard or Stimson unit.

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New Curiosity Self-Portrait

Posted by Damia Bouic on 2015/08/11 01:03 CDT | 3 comments

Amateur image processor Damia Bouic shares new stunning images from Curiosity—including a "selfie" from a whole new angle.

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