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Blog Archive


NASA announces five Discovery proposals selected for further study

Posted by Casey DreierEmily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/30 03:39 CDT | 20 comments

NASA announced the first-round selections for its next Discovery mission today. A total of five planetary mission concepts -- three targeted at asteroids, two at Venus -- will move to the next stage of the competition.

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Mars Week Continues: We've Released Our 'Humans Orbiting Mars' Workshop Report

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/09/29 04:08 CDT | 1 comments

Learn all about a sustainable, affordable path to get humans to the Red Planet—a path that goes through Mars orbit and Phobos.

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Searching for the Origins of Earth’s Water

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/09/17 10:03 CDT | 1 comments

Three recently proposed low-cost space missions all aim to answer the same question: Where did Earth's abundant water come from?

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IceBreaker: The Search for Life on Mars

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/09/08 09:19 CDT | 3 comments

The IceBreaker mission, proposed to NASA's Discovery program for low-cost missions, would seek out life on the northern plains of Mars.

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CubeSats to the Moon
An interview with the scientist behind NASA’s newest planetary exploration mission

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/09/02 10:52 CDT | 1 comments

Casey interviews Dr. Craig Hardgrove about his lunar CubeSat, how it came together, and how NASA’s support for small missions are important for early career scientists like himself.

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Outer Planet News

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/08/25 08:20 CDT | 6 comments

NASA's Outer Planet Analysis Group is currently meeting to hear the agency's current plans and to provide the feedback of the scientific community on those plans.

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MERLIN: The Creative Choices Behind a Proposal to Explore the Martian Moons

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/08/10 09:29 CDT | 4 comments

Van Kane presents one of the three missions from the latest round of NASA Discovery proposals with the goal of exploring Mars' moons.

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Proposals to Explore the Solar System’s Smallest Worlds

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/07/27 12:14 CDT | 10 comments

Van Kane rounds up some of the latest NASA Discovery mission proposals aiming to explore our solar system's smallest bodies.

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A New Way to Prepare Samples of Mars for Return to the Earth
Mars 2020’s strategy to cache samples is evolving as the mission matures

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/07/23 02:18 CDT | 16 comments

Mars 2020, NASA’s next and yet-to-be-named Mars rover, will be the first mission to collect and prepare samples of the martian surface for return to Earth. The rover's engineering team has proposed a new sampling caching strategy that differs from previous concepts in some interesting ways.

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NASA Goes First Class for Europa

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/06/10 12:07 CDT | 9 comments

Over the last several years, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory have rethought the entire approach to exploring Europa. NASA now has a concept that's affordable.

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Why We Don't Know When the Europa Mission Will Launch

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/05/27 01:32 CDT | 12 comments

NASA has been vague about when the new mission to Europa will launch. There's a reason for that, and it's not just orbital mechanics.

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Here Are the Science Instruments NASA Will Use to Explore Europa

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/05/26 01:01 CDT | 8 comments

NASA just announced the science instruments that will be used to understand the enigmatic ocean moon of Europa. The mission is planned to launch sometime in the early 2020s.

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Mars Plans Advance (and Occasionally Fade)

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/05/08 04:05 CDT | 13 comments

In the last two months, there has been significant news about the European-Russian 2018 mission and about NASA’s 2020 rover. NASA also has announced that it would like to send a new orbiter to the Red Planet in the early 2020s.

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How to Watch the Humans to Mars Summit This Week

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/05/05 12:36 CDT | 5 comments

Our friends at Explore Mars are live-streaming their Humans to Mars Summit this week, happening in Washington, D.C.

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The study team at JPL Will Present their Mars Program Concept at the 2015 Humans to Mars Summit

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/04/17 05:37 CDT

A study team at JPL will present their humans to Mars program concept at the Humans to Mars Summit and publish it as a peer-reviewed article in the New Space Journal.

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NASA's Mission to Europa May Get More Interesting Still

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/04/11 04:08 CDT | 7 comments

NASA officials have asked their European counterparts if they would like to propose contributing a small probe to NASA's Europa mission planned for the mid-2020s.

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Discovery Lives

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2015/04/08 01:05 CDT | 7 comments

Last month teams of scientists from around the United States submitted proposals for the thirteenth mission in NASA’s Discovery program. Jason Callahan discusses this latest round of proposals.

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A New Path to Mars?
A new workshop suggests humans to the Mars system might be affordable after all

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/04/02 06:04 CDT | 40 comments

A new advocacy initiative for the Society: let's get humans to Mars.

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Four Ideas to Bust the Floor on Outer Planet Mission Costs

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/03/26 08:25 CDT | 7 comments

The road to lower costs outer planet missions has been paved by NASA’s first two New Frontiers missions, the $700M New Horizons mission to Pluto and the $1.1B Juno mission to Jupiter. But can the cost of a mission to the outer solar system be cut to $450M, the limit for a Discovery mission?

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Understanding why our most Earth-like neighbor, Venus, is so different

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/03/02 12:43 CST | 3 comments

Van Kane introduces us to EnVision—a proposed European mission to help improve our understanding of Venus.

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