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Blog Archive


Why are MAVEN and Mars Orbiter Mission taking such different paths to Mars?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/22 12:15 CST | 20 comments

Two spacecraft launched for Mars this month: Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, and MAVEN on November 18. MAVEN is now on an interplanetary trajectory, while Mars Orbiter Mission is still in Earth orbit and will not depart for Mars until the end of the month. A lot of people are asking me: why the difference? Here's your answer, with input from Dave Doody.

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about MAVEN's launch and mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/15 08:11 CST | 13 comments

MAVEN is just about to launch! The mission has just released their launch press kit. This post summarizes the press kit's high points, and hopefully answers most of your questions about NASA's next Mars orbiter, scheduled for liftoff Monday at 10:28 PT / 13:28 ET / 18:28 UT.

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Planetary Radio: Looking for Intelligence in a Flash
The All-Sky OSETI Search Gets Even Better

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/11/05 10:58 CST | 1 comments

An update on the Planetary Society's improved Optical SETI search, with Harvard's Paul Horowitz and Curtis Mead.

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Power From the Isotopes
The United States is trying to generate plutonium fuel for the first time in 25 years. Will it succeed?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/29 01:21 CDT | 2 comments

We report on the current state of Plutonium-238 production in the United States, a crucial fuel source for planetary exploration spacecraft.

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The Potential of CubeSats

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/10/23 09:17 CDT

Planetary spacecraft originally tended to be large missions. However, technology is shrinking, and before the decade is out, I expect that we will have at least one planetary mission based on a CubeSat.

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Alpha Centauri Planet Hunt Update

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/15 11:27 CDT | 2 comments

An update from Yale’s Debra Fischer about the Alpha Centauri planet hunt, partially sponsored by The Planetary Society, as well as her team’s efforts to remove “noise” from parent stars to help find exoplanets.

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Our Improved Optical Search for ET
New hardware processes terabytes of data every second

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/08 11:15 CDT

The Planetary Society Optical SETI (OSETI) Telescope was successfully upgraded and fully tested, and is now fully operational looking for aliens. Here are some updates on the performance and progress. In summary, the upgraded telescope is performing just as hoped and is scanning the skies.

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The "Starship Century" Beckons
Gregory and James Benford return to Planetary Radio

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/01 10:30 CDT

The Benford brothers provide inspiration and hard fact in their excellent new anthology about interstellar travel.

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Planetary Radio Live Launch Special

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/10 10:41 CDT

Listen to or watch the recording of our live celebration for LADEE as the spacecraft blasted off for the moon.

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Watch LADEE Launch to the Moon with The Planetary Society
Live Webcast Begins HERE at 7:30pm PDT / 10:30pm EDT

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/06 08:45 CDT

Starting at 7:30pm PDT/10:30pm EDT, we will webcast a special event around the launch of NASA's next lunar spacecraft. Watch our special coverage with lunar scientists and live video from the launch site, as well as NASA TV footage of the launch itself.

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Caution: Spacecraft Under Construction
Visiting JPL's high bay clean room with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/08/20 10:39 CDT | 1 comments

Join Emily Lakdawalla and Mat Kaplan inside JPL's High Bay 1, where two Earth-revealing missions are being readied for launch.

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Back to the Future With NIAC Program Exec Jay Falker

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/08/13 10:51 CDT

This week's Planetary Radio talks with the head of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program about its mission and 12 newly-funded projects that could change the world.

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Dawn Journal: Craving Power

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/30 01:12 CDT | 5 comments

Ion propulsion is not a source of power for Dawn. Rather, the craft needs a great deal of power to operate its ion propulsion system and all other systems. It needs so much that...we crave power!!

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Programmable Mars Watch for $50

Posted by Ara Kourchians on 2013/07/11 06:00 CDT

Time is kept differently on Mars. This is because Mars itself rotates a little slower than Earth. This proves to be a pain when it comes to timekeeping.

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PlanetVac Moving Forward
Meet the Team and Learn What They are Doing

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/07/03 01:23 CDT | 4 comments

Meet the PlanetVac team and learn their general plan and what they are doing now. PlanetVac is a newly started Planetary Society and Honeybee Robotics project to test a pneumatic system to sample planetary surfaces.

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PlanetVac Project Underway
Planetary Society Sponsored Surface Sampling Project

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/07/01 02:56 CDT | 1 comments

The Planetary Society's PlanetVac project with Honeybee Robotics is now fully underway. Here we provide a just released statement by Honeybee, and an introduction to this lab test of a new planetary surface sampling system.

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How radar really works: The steps involved before getting an image

Posted by Alessondra Springmann on 2013/06/24 02:10 CDT | 3 comments

Arecibo Observatory is known for its 1000-foot diameter telescope and its appearances in Goldeneye and Contact. Aside from battling Bond villains and driving red diesel Jeeps around the telescope (grousing at the site director about the funding status of projects is optional), several hundred hours a year of telescope time at Arecibo go toward radar studies of asteroids.

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Astronomy Enters a New Era
Join us for a live webcast about thrilling new tools that will come online in the next decade.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/05/26 08:45 CDT | 3 comments

A live conversation about just a few of the powerful new instruments that will revolutionize our knowledge of the cosmos once again.

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Instruments for the JUICE Jovian Mission

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/03/07 12:20 CST | 6 comments

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced the list of instruments selected for its JUICE mission to explore the Jovian system for three years starting in the 2030 following a 2022 launch.

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Curiosity's Scoop Campaign, a Summary

Posted by Stephen Kuhn on 2013/01/08 09:30 CST | 4 comments

Stephen Kuhn is the CHIMRA and the scoop systems lead on the Curiosity rover. He explains what the team was doing at Rocknest, and why it took so long!

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