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Blog Archive

 

Jupiter's faded belt: It's happened before, and it'll happen again

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/16 05:07 CDT

When I wrote a post about Jupiter's missing South Equatorial Belt in May, I had three main questions: how long did it take for the belt to go away, has this happened before, and how can a planet as big as Jupiter change its appearance so quickly?

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Spirit: Schrödinger's Rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/28 12:01 CDT

Either Spirit is the longest-lived landed Mars mission ever, or she is not. We won't know for certain unless we manage to observe a radio signal from her.

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Climb Aboard Apollo 11 Time Machine

Posted by Susan Lendroth on 2009/07/16 01:01 CDT

Grab your bell bottoms and Tang, and travel back to 1969 when Apollo 11's journey to the Moon captivated the world, and Neil Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's boot prints in the lunar dust transformed us into a multi-world species.

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Deep Inside Europa

Posted by 5thstar on 2009/06/23 07:48 CDT

In 1995, 572 astronaut applicants were narrowed down to 125 based on their resumes and English scores, then down to 48 based on paper exams and brief medical checks. These 48 candidates went through a week of comprehensive medical checks and job interviews.

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Apollo Plus 40

Posted by Timothy Reed on 2009/06/18 12:05 CDT

The editors of the site, Nature, have begun their ApolloPlus40 blog.

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Connections

Posted by David Seal on 2009/06/02 01:58 CDT

David Seal muses on his time as the mission planner for Cassini, and the history behind its name, and astronomy in Rome.

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Celebrate Apollo 11's 40th Anniversary with the Crew

Posted by Susan Lendroth on 2009/05/22 01:08 CDT

This summer, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. will commemorate that extraordinary moment in history with a very special Apollo 11 celebration, featuring the mission's original crew members along with former Johnson Space Center Director Chris Kraft.

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An Auspicious Week for Astronomy

Posted by Mark Adler on 2009/05/11 11:54 CDT | 1 comment

On Monday, if all goes well, we will launch the Space Shuttle to rejuvenate one the greatest scientific missions launched on or off the Earth: the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Pluto: The Discovery of a Planet

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/18 11:00 CST

To mark the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the planet Pluto, The Planetary Society presents to its readers the remarkable story of the discovery.

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The Discovery of a Planet, Part 6: From Pluto to Sedna

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/17 11:00 CST

74 years after Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto as a faint dot on a pair of photographic plates, a modern group of astronomers made another remarkable discovery. On March 15, 2004, Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale announced the discovery of Sedna – the furthest object ever detected in the Solar System.

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The Discovery of a Planet, Part 5: The Aftermath

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/16 11:00 CST

The discovery of Planet X was announced to the world on March 13, 1930, which marked the anniversary of William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781 as well as Percival Lowell’s birthday. The observatory’s communiqué emphasized that the discovery was no coincidence, but the vindication of Lowell’s predictions made years before.

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The Discovery of a Planet, Part 4: Clyde's Search

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/15 11:00 CST

Since his teenage years Clyde Tombaugh had been an avid amateur astronomer and a gifted telescope builder. Based on instructions contained in an article from a boy’s Sunday school paper, he built a series of telescopes of increasing power and quality on the family farm.

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The Discovery of a Planet, Part 3: Planet X

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/14 11:00 CST

The discovery of Neptune accounted for nearly all the unexplained motions of the outer planets of the Solar System. Nevertheless, several astronomers insisted that some unexplained residual motions remained, pointing to the presence of a ninth planet beyond the orbit of Neptune.

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The Discovery of a Planet, Part 2: Out of the Six-Planet World

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/13 11:00 CST

Since humans first set their eyes to the stars, they noticed that a few of these bright objects behaved differently from the others. Whereas all the stars moved together, revolving around the Earth once every 24 hours, five appeared to move within the firmament among the other stars. Accordingly, they were named “planets,” meaning “wanderers” in Greek.

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The Discovery of a Planet, Part 1: The Blinking Image

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/12 11:00 CST

February 18, 1930, was a cloudy day at the Lowell Observatory, on top of Mars Hill in Flagstaff, Arizona. 22 year old Clyde Tombaugh was hard at work, peering through the lens of an ancient-looking brass-colored device. The instrument, known as a “blink comparator,” mounted two large photographic plates.

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The Stories Behind the Voyager Mission: Jurrie van der Woude

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2002/09/05 12:00 CDT

Jurrie van der Woude worked for 25 years in the Jet Propulsion's Laboratory's Public Affairs Office as Image Coordinator. It was Jurrie who, working closely with the Voyager imaging team, chose the best images to release to the press.

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The Stories Behind the Voyager Mission: Linda Morabito Kelly

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2002/09/05 12:00 CDT

Linda Morabito Kelly began working at Jet Propulsion Laboratories while still a student at the University of Southern California. In 1974, she accepted a fulltime position as an engineer in the Satellite Ephemeris Development and Orbit Determination section JPL.

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The Stories Behind the Voyager Mission: Ed Stone

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2002/09/05 12:00 CDT

Edward C. Stone, an internationally renowned physicist, signed on as Project Scientist of the Voyager mission in 1972, responsible for coordinating the efforts of 11 teams of researchers.

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The Stories Behind the Voyager Mission: Bruce Murray

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2002/09/05 12:00 CDT

Bruce C. Murray served as the only geologist on the team planning the Grand Tour, which was cancelled by NASA in 1972, but which led to Voyager the same year. He later became the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a position he held from 1976 to 1982, the early glory years of the mission.

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The Stories Behind the Voyager Mission: Bud Schurmeier

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2002/09/05 12:00 CDT

Harris 'Bud' Schurmeier served as the first Project Manager for the Voyager mission. In 1976, just before the twin spacecraft launched, he became Assistant Lab Director at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

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