Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/19 01:49 CDT
JAXA's solar sail demonstration craft IKAROS is still puttering along, 17 months after it launched, and its controllers back on Earth keep coming up with new things to try with it. I'm pretty amazed by the most recent trick: reversing its spin direction. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is, especially for IKAROS.
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!
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.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/12 10:50 CDT
Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, The Flight of Hayabusa, a recap of that dramatic mission.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/18 10:48 CST
Data from all science instruments on all of NASA's and ESA's space missions, not just cameras, is archived in the Planetary Data System and Planetary Science Archive, and almost all of that data is available online.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/15 11:25 CST
I've gotten this question about once a week since Spirit got stuck, but yesterday, two different readers asked the same question within an hour of each other, so I figured it was time for a blog entry.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/19 11:16 CST
Trouble has come time and again to JAXA's little Hayabusa asteroid sample return mission, yet the mission's engineers always come up with new and creative ways to solve problems.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/11 11:19 CST
JAXA issued a press release (in Japanese) on November 9 stating that one of Hayabusa's ion thrusters, thruster D, had stopped operating. Hayabusa launched with four ion thrusters, but D was one of only two that are still functioning. So the failure of thruster D is a serious problem.
Posted by John Smith on 2009/06/07 12:01 CDT
Each Titan flyby is not a fork in the road, but rather a Los Angeles style cloverleaf in terms of the dizzying number of possible destinations. So how did our current and future plans for the path of the Cassini spacecraft come to be? That's the question Dave Seal put to me since that's my job -- I am a tour designer.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/07/17 08:41 CDT
I was delighted to receive an email from Morten Bo Madsen, who I knew from the Mars Exploration Rover mission as "that Danish magnet guy," the fellow responsible for the magnet experiments on nearly every American Mars mission. The magnets were originally designed to study the properties of airborne Martian dust, which would help determine its composition.