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Blog Archive


Promise, Transition, and Transformation
Reflections on a Rocket Road Trip

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/09/19 07:22 CDT | 4 comments

After 10 days, four NASA centers, two contractors, and hundreds of miles, Casey Dreier shares his initial reflections on the state of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and its future.

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Juno’s other ‘cameras’

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/08/16 10:57 CDT | 3 comments

Juno’s science goals are to understand the origin and interior of Jupiter, focusing specifically on its atmosphere and magnetic field. Cameras can help answer some of these questions.

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Future High-Resolution Imaging of Mars: Super-Res to the Rescue?

Posted by Alfred McEwen on 2016/04/29 02:27 CDT | 3 comments

HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen explains an imaging technique known as Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR), and how it could come in handy for high-resolution imaging of the Red Planet.

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UPDATED: ESA activates a new old space camera

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/19 10:45 CST | 2 comments

Inspired by the Mars Webcam on Mars Express, ESA's Cluster mission has turned on a camera on the Cluster spacecraft for the first time since their launch more than 15 years ago. UPDATE: It has now acquired images of Earth.

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Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2016/01/23 11:41 CST

The OSIRIS-REx instrument team has successfully installed the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) on the spacecraft. However, there is more to the story of how REXIS made it onto the spacecraft.

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OSIRIS-REx Completes Mechanical Environmental Testing

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/12/18 08:03 CST | 2 comments

The OSIRIS-REx team successfully and safely completed sine vibration (sine vibe) testing on the spacecraft prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The sine vibe tests are designed to verify the system performs as expected after being exposed to flight-like low frequency vibration input.

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Back from the Brink: Akatsuki Returns to Venus

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/12/04 01:08 CST | 2 comments

Perhaps forgotten by the general public in the West, a long-lost spacecraft is set to enter orbit around our sister planet in December, picking up where ESA’s Venus Express left off when its operations ended last year.

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Mastcam-Z has passed its Preliminary Design Review!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/23 09:13 CST

A panel of outside experts reviewed the design of the Mars 2020 rover's color cameras, and approved the progress of Mastcam-Z. It still exists only as an idea in the cloud, but it's one significant step closer to being sent to Mars.

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Mars 2020 and the Adaptive Caching Assembly: An Intern’s Perspective

Posted by Jake Rosenthal on 2015/10/12 02:29 CDT | 10 comments

Jet Propulsion Laboratory summer intern Jake Rosenthal shares his thoughts on the Mars 2020 sample caching technology currently in development.

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Spectacular New Horizons photo of Pluto's hazes and mountains: How it was made

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/17 04:04 CDT | 11 comments

Today, New Horizons released a stunning new image of Pluto's backlit mountains and hazes. I explain how the image was taken with its Ralph Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera.

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Populating the OSIRIS-REx Science Deck

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/09/01 02:34 CDT | 1 comments

The assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues, with many elements integrated onto the spacecraft ahead of schedule. Last month both OTES and OVIRS were delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the science deck.

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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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OSIRIS-REx – Testing In Progress

Posted by Annie Wargetz on 2015/07/17 03:12 CDT

While the OLA, OCAMS, and REXIS instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continue working towards their deliveries, other hardware onsite at Lockheed is undergoing testing prior to installation. The hardware is put through tests here on Earth prior to launching into space.

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OSIRIS-REx – Seeking Answers to the Sweet Mystery of Life

Posted by Jason Dworkin on 2015/05/07 12:21 CDT | 2 comments

The nature of the origin of life is a topic that has engaged people since ancient times. The samples to be collected by OSIRIS-REx, returned to the Earth in 2023 and archived for decades beyond that, may indeed hide the secrets to the origin of life.

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Can nuclear waste help humanity reach for the stars?

Posted by Tim Tinsley on 2015/04/23 04:07 CDT | 3 comments

With the shortage of plutonium-238 to power space missions, Europe has decided to focus on an accessible alternative material that could power future spacecraft: americium-241.

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Development of the OSIRIS-REx Sampling System: TAGSAM and the SRC

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/04/21 04:55 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx team has been busy assembling and testing the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and the Sample Return Capsule (SRC).

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Curiosity update, sols 896-949: Telegraph Peak, Garden City, and concern about the drill

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/10 07:37 CDT | 1 comments

Since I last wrote about Curiosity drilling at Pink Cliffs, the rover has visited and studied two major sites, drilling at one of them. It has also suffered a short in the drill percussion mechanism that presents serious enough risk to warrant a moratorium on drill use until engineers develop a plan to continue to operate it safely.

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OSIRIS-REx Begins ATLO (Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations)

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/04/02 12:49 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx mission passed another major milestone. We now have approval to build the spacecraft.

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How Do We Know When We Have Collected a Sample of Bennu?

Posted by Kevin Walsh on 2015/03/17 04:19 CDT | 1 comments

A huge amount of effort goes into deciding where to try to collect a sample on Bennu. There are roughly nine months to survey, map and model the asteroid to help make this decision.

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Talking to Pluto is hard! Why it takes so long to get data back from New Horizons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/01/30 09:53 CST | 13 comments

As I write this post, New Horizons is nearing the end of a weeklong optical navigation campaign. The last optical navigation images in the weeklong series will be taken tomorrow, but it will likely take two weeks or more for all the data to get to Earth. Two weeks! Why does it take so long?

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