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Hello, beautiful!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/09/07 11:24 CDT | 3 comments

Curiosity's much-anticipated self-portrait with the MAHLI camera just arrived on Earth, and even though it was shot through the dust cover it is AWESOME.

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Checking in on Curiosity after sol 30

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/09/06 03:54 CDT | 4 comments

Curiosity completed the "Intermission" phase on sol 29, and began checking out the robotic arm.

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Knots on Mars

Posted by David J. Fred on 2012/09/05 04:21 CDT | 3 comments

It might surprise most people to learn that multitudes of knots tied in cords and thin ribbons have probably traveled on every interplanetary mission ever flown. If human civilization ends tomorrow, interplanetary landers, orbiters, and deep space probes will preserve evidence of both the oldest and newest of human technologies for thousands, if not millions of years.

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An amazing LEGO model of Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/09/03 09:15 CDT | 1 comment

A petite model of Curiosity in LEGO accurately represents many of its features and functions.

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What's Up in the Solar System in September 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/31 04:17 CDT | 4 comments

It's an active time in interplanetary exploration! Curiosity has begun roving Mars, and Opportunity's not wasting any time either. Dawn has just departed Vesta and begun the more than two-year cruise to Ceres. Juno is in the middle of a big deep-space maneuver, setting up next year's Earth flyby.

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HiRISE's best view of Curiosity yet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/31 12:50 CDT | 10 comments

HiRISE's best opportunity to view Curiosity so far came 12 days after landing, when the orbiter passed nearly directly overhead. The photo resolves amazing detail on the huge rover.

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Explaining the new black-and-white Mastcam and MARDI raw images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/24 05:05 CDT | 2 comments

If you've been obsessively checking the Curiosity raw images websites for new pictures from Mars, you might have noticed something weird: a bunch of Mastcam images and a few from MARDI that are black-and-white instead of color, and which have a peculiar checkerboard pattern.

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The definitive version of Curiosity's first color panorama

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/23 06:15 CDT | 8 comments

The top of the mountain has finally been filled in, and Damien Bouic has produced what I think is the definitive version of Curiosity's first color panorama.

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Sampling Mars, Part 4: Commissioning the Rover and Sampling System

Posted by Daniel Limonadi on 2012/08/22 07:04 CDT | 10 comments

Completing a multi-part guest blog series by Curiosity systems engineering team lead for the Surface Sampling and Science system. Part 4 explains the lengthy process of testing and using the system for the first time.

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Curiosity's landing site named for Ray Bradbury

Posted by Jim Bell on 2012/08/22 04:32 CDT | 1 comment

Ray Bradbury explored Mars, and the future of humanity, through words and ideas--vehicles of the imagination. He was a visionary author and, through his writings and lectures, was a direct or indirect mentor to so many of us involved with designing, building, and operating the actual space vehicles of today. I think it is so fitting, then, that the MSL team has memorialized Ray's contributions to the exploration of the planets -- and especially Mars -- by naming Curiosity's landing site in his honor.

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August 22, 2012 officially proclaimed "Space Day" in California

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/21 09:58 CDT

Governor Brown has declared August 22, 2012 "Space Day." I'm not sure what it means, but I love the repeated use of the word "whereas."

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Sampling Mars, Part 3: Key Challenges in Drilling for Samples

Posted by Daniel Limonadi on 2012/08/21 05:34 CDT

Continuing a multi-part guest blog series by Curiosity systems engineering team lead for the Surface Sampling and Science system. Part 3 explains why drilling is hard, and what the team is doing to prevent things from going wrong.

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Curiosity sol 15 update: Wheel wiggles, arm flexes, and bad news about REMS

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/21 04:26 CDT | 8 comments

Notes from this morning's press conference. Curiosity has successfully steered the corner wheels and deployed and restowed the robotic arm. ChemCam tests went well over the weekend. But one of the two wind speed sensors in REMS appears to have suffered permanent damage during landing.

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Sampling Mars, Part 2: Science Instruments SAM and Chemin

Posted by Daniel Limonadi on 2012/08/20 11:28 CDT | 5 comments

Continuing a multi-part guest blog series by Curiosity systems engineering team lead for the Surface Sampling and Science system. Part 2 explains the science instruments SAM and Chemin.

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The first Curiosity 360-degree panorama including the mountain

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/18 10:45 CDT | 8 comments

Damien Bouic took Curiosity's Hazcam images of Aeolis Mons / Mount Sharp and merged them with a beautiful 360-degree Navcam panorama to give us our first look at what the view will look like once the mission finally gets higher-resolution images that include the mountain's peak.

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Curiosity sol 11 update: Decision to drive to "the high thermal inertia unit" and what that means

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/17 06:06 CDT | 8 comments

Some notes from this morning's Curiosity press briefing: the rover will be driving to "Glenelg" to investigate the "high thermal inertia unit." I explain what that means, with psychedelic Odyssey THEMIS images of the landing site.

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Let NASA Dare Mighty Things Again

Posted by Andrew Chaikin on 2012/08/17 08:47 CDT | 18 comments

In the space Olympics, the U.S. just won gold. So what, in the scheme of things, is the justification for the draconian budget cuts to NASA’s planetary program that threaten scientists’ carefully thought out plans for exploring the solar system in the coming decade?

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Sampling Mars, Part 1: The Hardware

Posted by Daniel Limonadi on 2012/08/16 02:08 CDT | 3 comments

The opening of a multi-part guest blog series by Curiosity systems engineering team lead for the Surface Sampling and Science system. Part 1 explains the robotic arm and the Sample Acquisition, Processing and Handling subsystem.

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Some fun with Curiosity MARDI images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/16 11:36 CDT | 9 comments

Yesterday Curiosity returned a pile of full-resolution descent imager photos to Earth. The full-resolution MARDI images are just as great as we anticipated.

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Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour, Wednesday: What's up with Curiosity on Mars, with guest: me!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/15 05:00 CDT | 11 comments

I'm hosting this week's Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour, and rather than having a special guest I'll be speaking myself about what's going on with Curiosity, and will leave lots of time to answer people's questions. Join me at 1600 PDT / 2300 UTC at cosmoquest.org/hangouts.

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