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Virtual Exploration, Virtually Everywhere

Jim Bell • May 14, 2012

I had the pleasure of participating in a symposium at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center called "Space Exploration via Telepresence: A New Paradigm for Human-Robotic Cooperation."

Examining India's new RISAT 1 Earth observation satellite

Jason Davis • May 02, 2012

Last week, India launched RISAT 1, a new Earth-observing satellite. How does its synthetic aperture radar compare to that of Envisat, which has fallen silent?

Planets around Alpha Centauri?

Bruce Betts • April 24, 2012

Do planets circle our closest stellar neighbors, the system loved by science fiction: Alpha Centauri? We don’t know. But, Debra Fischer, Julien Spronck, and their colleagues at Yale University, in part with Planetary Society support, are trying to find out.

Pioneer Anomaly Solved!

Bruce Betts • April 19, 2012

With the latest piece of the puzzle just published in a scientific journal, a solar system mystery that has perplexed people for more than 20 years has been solved, truly thanks to the support of Planetary Society members.

Of inclinations and azimuths

Jason Davis • April 11, 2012

A classified U.S. military satellite recently launched into an orbital inclination of 123 degrees. What makes this trajectory so unique? Pondering the answer affords the opportunity to learn some deceptively tricky concepts about the nature of all spacecraft orbits.

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.

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