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 2010/12/31 08:04 CST
This week is the end for Kodachrome film. It's a casualty of the digital revolution.
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 2010/04/29 02:04 CDT
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.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/26 05:37 CDT
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.
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.