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Curiosity stacked for launch, still waiting for plutonium power source installation

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/04 12:43 CDT

It's still three weeks until Curiosity's launch date, but the spacecraft has already been placed on top of its rocket. The Kennedy Space Center's Curiosity photo album now has lots of pictures of the spacecraft being enclosed inside the payload fairing (the rocket's "nose cone") and hoisted to the top of the Atlas V.

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Print publications galore!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/03 05:27 CDT

November has already been a very good month for me in the print publication realm. I've had published not one, but two, feature articles on Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover.

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Photos: Preparations for Curiosity's launch proceeding (don't show these to Blofeld!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/11 11:27 CDT

Kennedy Space Center has recently created a photo album collecting their photos from the clean rooms where technicians are working madly to prepare the Curiosity Mars rover for launch.

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It's official now: Curiosity is going to Gale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/22 12:50 CDT

The news leaked a few weeks ago has turned out to be true: the next Mars rover, Curiosity, will be headed for Gale crater on Mars when it launches at the end of this year.

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A visit with Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/11 02:32 CDT

I had an amazing opportunity back in April: an invitation to go inside the fabled Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to see the next Mars rover up close.

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Summary of the fifth MSL landing site selection meeting

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2011/07/06 10:40 CDT

Well, after three days of fascinating science and heated discussion, the fifth and final MSL landing site workshop has come to a close, and the consensus is -- that all of the sites are pretty darn interesting.

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According to Nature News, Curiosity is going to Gale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/23 12:08 CDT

Nature News is reporting that the Mars Science Laboratory mission has made its recommendation for the landing site for the next great Mars rover, and it's Gale crater.

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How to Wrap a Mars Rover, redux

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/21 11:31 CDT

All right, I'll admit it: JPL's video is way, way cooler than mine. Four days of packing Curiosity up for shipping, condensed into under a minute.

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How to Wrap a Mars Rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/17 09:02 CDT

It's not easy to wrap a ginormous rover for shipping. I was glued to the feed from the Curiosity Cam all day yesterday, as they prepared Curiosity for shipping to Kennedy Space Center. Here's a low-budget time-lapse of the rover being wrapped.

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Two new views of Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/01 01:32 CDT

This week two cool new views of the next Mars rover appeared in the Jet Propulsion Lab's image database, the Planetary Photojournal. One was real, and one simulated; I've been waiting to see both for many months.

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Zapping Rocks for Science

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2011/05/27 09:01 CDT

Laser beams and space exploration are perfect for each other, and not just because all self-respecting starship captains know their way around a blaster. It turns out that zapping rocks with a laser is not only fun, it also can tell you what they're made of!

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It's opposite day at the Curiosity landing site selection meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/18 01:20 CDT

I've been attending the final Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Community Workshop meeting this week, taking copious notes for a future article in The Planetary Report, some of which I'll post here when I get a chance. But I just had to write a brief post about the totally crazy role reversal that is going on at this meeting.

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Having some fun with Curiosity's pretty face (plus, a conversation about Curiosity with a 4-year-old)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/08 12:03 CDT

The photo I took of Curiosity's "face" and posted on Monday seems to have tickled a lot of people. I understand it's the subject of a "Photoshop this Mars rover" challenge at Fark, and a couple of the guys over at unmannedspaceflight.com have been having a field day with it.

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Face-to-face with Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/04 04:54 CDT

I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity today for a face-to-face visit with one of the biggest celebrities in my world: Curiosity, the next Mars rover. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory gave members of the media a chance to suit up in the white coveralls known as "bunny suits" and enter the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, the clean room in which Curiosity is being assembled and prepared for launch.

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A zoomable MastCam is not going to make it to Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/23 05:05 CDT

I hate being the bearer of bad news, but here it is. Amid all the building excitement for Curiosity -- the successes in testing, the delivery of the instruments, the fun of tuning in to Curiosity Cam to peek in on engineers doing their work in preparing the next rover for launch -- I've learned that a much-anticipated (but not required) feature is not going to make it on to the rover.

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Neat video of Curiosity drive testing (plus a code-cracking challenge)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/21 01:37 CDT

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has posted a short video showing some recent testing of an engineering model of the Mars Science Laboratory in their outdoor Mars Yard; they're testing the performance of the rover's driving capability over slopes of varying steepness and covered with bedrock, compacted sand, and very loose sand.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/12 10:32 CST

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011, about what to look forward to in solar system exploration this year.

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Water and the Curiosity Landing Site Candidates

Posted by Ken Edgett on 2009/05/28 10:09 CDT | 2 comments

Water and the Curiosity Landing Site Candidates

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Exciting Times Ahead: 2010 Will Sizzle, and 2011 Will Really Cook!

Posted by Alan Stern on 2009/05/18 03:56 CDT

Today, I'm kicking the week off with a look at the unusually intense confluence of far flung planetary exploration that's just around the corner, starting the middle of next year.

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No descent images or sounds from Phoenix

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/11/15 11:05 CST

No descent images or sounds from Phoenix

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