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Visiting a Solar Sail in the OC

Mat Kaplan • March 16, 2012

The city of Tustin is about an hour's drive from Planetary Society HQ in Pasadena. That's when the freeway gods are kind, which they never are. The trip I made there yesterday was well worth the trouble.

Cool stuff brewing at Honeybee Robotics

Emily Lakdawalla • March 15, 2012

Yesterday I was treated to a little tour (little, because it's a little building) of Honeybee Robotics' office here in Pasadena. Honeybee is developing some great technology for future space missions for Earth, Mars, and beyond.

Infographic: Viewing our universe's colors

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2012

An infographic explains in what "colors" of electromagnetic radiation we been able to observe our universe, over the length of the space age.

Planetary Radio: A Modest Plea For Both Big and Not-So-Big Space Science Funding

Mat Kaplan • February 06, 2012

This weeks Planetary Radio features updates on the James Webb Space Telescope, from Deputy Project Director Eric Smith. The discussion centers around the budget controversy, and why the JWST is worth the money.

The state of Earth observation, January 2012

Jason Davis • January 09, 2012

As of November 2011, the Earth Observing Handbook counts 109 active missions to study the Earth as a planet, with 112 more approved and planned for the future. Jason Davis provides an overview of key current and upcoming earth-observing missions.

How did they make the nuclear power source for the Curiosity rover?

Emily Lakdawalla • November 28, 2011

Maybe it's because I was a kid during the Cold War; I always assume that information about anything nuclear only comes out on that "need-to-know basis."

The fish that sent us to the moon

Jason Davis • October 20, 2011

The tale of NASA's Super Guppy aircraft, which ferried parts of America's space program to their launch pads.

A new trick for IKAROS: Spinning the other way

Emily Lakdawalla • October 19, 2011

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.

Decoding SpaceX's re-usable spacecraft concept

Jason Davis • October 07, 2011

Breaking down the futuristic technologies for SpaceX's reusable Grasshopper spacecraft, as shown in a recent promotional video.

Weekend watching: 3D Movie from Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • September 09, 2011

There's one Mars landed mission for which there is a long 3D film, and that's Viking. Grab your 3D glasses, and be prepared to be transported to Mars.

Your guide to a shuttle landing

Jason Davis • July 19, 2011

The final installment of my three-part series on the basics of shuttle launches and landings. Part III: de-orbiting, re-entering and landing.

Observing at the WIYN

Meg Schwamb • June 08, 2011

On May 5 and 6, I had a run on the WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) telescope, a 3.5 m telescope, the second largest telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

Zapping Rocks for Science

Ryan Anderson • May 27, 2011

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!

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

Emily Lakdawalla • March 21, 2011

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.

Bye bye, Kodachrome, but "Kodak moments" will live on in space

Emily Lakdawalla • December 31, 2010

This week is the end for Kodachrome film. It's a casualty of the digital revolution.

I can't wait for MAHLI to land on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • November 16, 2010

JPL has just released some test images from the camera that has just been installed on the end of the Curiosity rover's robotic arm.

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: The Flight of Hayabusa

Emily Lakdawalla • September 12, 2010

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, The Flight of Hayabusa, a recap of that dramatic mission.

Hayabusa's return: a review

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2010

Hayabusa's return: round up some of the amazing photos, movies, and artworks that were posted and shared and Tweeted and re-Tweeted over the previous dozen hours or so.

How radio telescopes get "images" of asteroids

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2010

Every time I post a radio telescope image of a near-Earth asteroid, I get at least one reader question asking me to explain how radio telescopes take photos, so I'm hereby writing a post explaining the basics of how delay-Doppler imaging works.

APOLLO program pinpoints location of Lunokhod 1 retroreflector

Emily Lakdawalla • April 26, 2010

With the recent Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imaging of the Lunokhod 1 rover, scientists on the APOLLO project were finally able to do something that scientists have been dreaming of for more than three decades: shoot the rover with a laser.

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