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Blog Archive


Lunar Farside Landing Plans

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2016/05/27 06:48 CDT | 1 comments

Phil Stooke describes a research trip to the Regional Planetary Image Facility at the USGS in Flagstaff, where he discovered Jack Schmitt's proposed plans for a farside landing site for Apollo 17.

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Space Exploration: Leaving the Earth to Understand It

Posted by Jake Rosenthal on 2016/05/13 08:00 CDT | 1 comments

Looking back at Earth from beyond helps to give perspective on our place in the cosmos.

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New lunar mosaics emerge as Surveyor digitization project continues

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/05/06 06:04 CDT

A team of scientists at the University of Arizona continue their efforts to extract data from more than 90,000 images captured during NASA's Surveyor program. In the meantime, new first-look images and an animation have been released.

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Shuttle tank, meet canal: Engineering wonders cross paths in Panama

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/28 06:02 CDT | 4 comments

Two modern engineering marvels crossed paths this week here in Central America, as the last unflown space shuttle external fuel tank passed through the Panama Canal during a multi-week voyage from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

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Full-circle ceremony sends last shuttle tank to sea

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/13 11:20 CDT

The last unflown space shuttle fuel tank is underway to California, following a full-circle ceremony in view of hardware built for the shuttle's heavy lift successor, the Space Launch System.

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The Pioneer Plaque: Science as a Universal Language

Posted by Jake Rosenthal on 2016/01/20 08:02 CST | 7 comments

In 1972, an attempt to contact extraterrestrial life was cast into space with the launch of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. What exactly was the message we sent into the cosmos?

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Back from the Brink: Akatsuki Returns to Venus

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/12/04 01:08 CST | 2 comments

Perhaps forgotten by the general public in the West, a long-lost spacecraft is set to enter orbit around our sister planet in December, picking up where ESA’s Venus Express left off when its operations ended last year.

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Surveyor Digitization Project Hints at Long-Lost Lunar Treasures

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/23 10:36 CST | 9 comments

A project to digitize more than 90,000 images taken by NASA’s five Surveyor spacecraft in the 1960s has revealed early hints of never-before-seen treasures captured by America’s first robotic lunar landers.

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Desert Moon, Narrated by Former Astronaut Mark Kelly, Now Available Online

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/23 10:00 CDT | 1 comments

Desert Moon, a 35-minute documentary that tells the story of Dr. Gerard Kuiper and the dawn of planetary science, is now available online.

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Remembering Charles Townes

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2015/01/31 09:08 CST | 2 comments

Mat Kaplan honors the memory of a scientific pioneer.

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Dawn Journal: History of Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/12/29 01:25 CST | 14 comments

As Dawn looks toward the new world of Ceres, Mission Director Marc Rayman looks back on Ceres' discovery.

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Want Funding? Then Be a National Priority

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/11/14 04:12 CST | 1 comments

On Monday, Jason Callahan published an article in The Space Review discussing the importance of aligning the goals of federally funded scientific communities with national priorities. This post highlights some of the main points of the article and suggests a possible role for The Planetary Society.

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When Nixon Stopped Human Exploration

Posted by John M. Logsdon on 2014/10/28 07:38 CDT | 3 comments

Society Board Member John Logsdon describes how the decisions made by Richard Nixon in late 1969 and early 1970 effectively ended human exploration beyond Earth orbit for the indefinite future.

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How Richard Nixon Changed NASA
John Logsdon's new book shows how the post-Apollo era was defined by Richard Nixon

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/10/04 10:03 CDT | 7 comments

The end of the Moon race raised the question: what, if anything, was next for NASA? The decisions made by President Nixon in the aftermath of Apollo still impact the space program today.

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A Glimpse Into NASA's New History Archives

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/23 02:29 CDT | 1 comments

NASA's immense reference collection got a makeover at its Washington, D.C. location recently. Jason Callahan gives you a glimpse behind the scenes as guests made their way into the new rooms while enjoying good conversation and, of course, Moon Pies.

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Recovery. Peak. Collapse. Planetary Science from 1990 - 2014

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/11 12:25 CDT | 4 comments

The history of planetary exploration repeats itself starting with a resurgent program in the 90s and 2000s that launched a new fleet of planetary spacecraft. Like our first story, this great success rewarded by deep budget cuts.

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Growth. Peak. Collapse. Planetary exploration from 1959 - 1989

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/08 11:24 CDT | 4 comments

The first three decades of planetary exploration tell a story that sounds all-too-familiar to modern day space advocates. Growth, peak, and then collapse of hard-earned capability. This is the story of planetary science for the first half of its existence.

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The Pivotal Discovery You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Posted by Karl Battams on 2014/08/29 02:09 CDT | 5 comments

Karl Battams highlights the historic discovery, by an Air Force satellite, of a sungrazing comet.

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise and Fall) of Planetary Exploration Funding
NASA has explored the planets since the 1960s, but funding has rarely been consistent

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/08/29 02:06 CDT | 5 comments

NASA has explored the solar system since the 1960s, but it has rarely been the top priority for the space agency. Jason Callahan breaks down how planetary science has been funded over the years within NASA's larger budget.

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The Birth of the Modern Universe
Review of Alan Hirshfeld's "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe"

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2014/08/29 12:29 CDT | 1 comments

Amir Alexander reviews Alan Hirshfeld's newest book, "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe."

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