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How the duck got its neck: Rapid temperature changes from self-shadowing may explain 67P's unusual activity and shape

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/11 11:04 CDT | 5 comments

When Rosetta approached comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko last summer, both its shape and its activity were surprising. It looked like two comets welded together at a skinny neck. A new paper explains how the neck may be steepening itself.

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A Workhorse at Mars

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2015/09/11 07:44 CDT | 2 comments

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) is almost a silent star at Mars. The latest MRO data release brought the total number of available CTX images to over 70,000, covering well over 90% of the Red Planet at a stunning resolution of 6 meters per pixel.

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Swapped Soyuz Set for Friday Return

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/11 04:01 CDT

Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov are set to return to Earth Friday after the station's one-year crew received a fresh Soyuz spacecraft.

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Pretty Pictures: Downlink of the Full New Horizons Data Set Has Begun

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/10 04:52 CDT | 7 comments

New Horizons has begun the long process of downlinking all the images it acquired during its July Pluto flyby.

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Pretty Picture: A Sweeping View of the Martian South Pole

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/10 11:56 CDT | 1 comments

The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft captured a sweeping view of Mars' south pole, along with a region extending northward to Hellas Basin.

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Dawn Ceres image bonanza: Grab your 3D glasses!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/09 08:04 CDT | 4 comments

For months, Dawn has been steadily, methodically sharing dozens of images of brand-new sights of a previously unexplored icy world. For the last couple of days I've been making up for lost time, completely buried in the Dawn Ceres images, and I have some maps and 3D anaglyphs to share with you.

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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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Aluminum Shapemodel of Comet 67P

Posted by Mattias Malmer on 2015/09/04 07:55 CDT | 4 comments

Mattias Malmer describes his MacGyver-esque process in creating a homemade aluminum version of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

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A Kilometer Per Day: LightSail Mission Managers Refine Orbit-Raising Plan

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/04 04:04 CDT | 6 comments

LightSail will spiral away from Earth by about one kilometer per day, according to the latest orbital estimates by Georgia Tech's Space Systems Design Laboratory.

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Chang'e 5 test vehicle maps future sample return site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/03 12:13 CDT | 4 comments

This summer the Chinese space agency has been making progress toward its planned 2017 launch of the Chang'e 5 robotic sample return mission, performing low-altitude imaging of the future landing site.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Digs Marathon Valley Walkabout
Sols 4096 - 4125

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/09/03 08:04 CDT

Opportunity drove farther into Marathon Valley in August, dug into what appears to be a water-altered rock, and took a lot of picture postcards in what is turning out to be a distinctively different site from any that the mission has found since the robot field geologist landed in 2004.

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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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Ten-day Taxi Trip to International Space Station Underway

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/02 12:18 CDT

A ten-day International Space Station taxi flight is underway following the Wednesday liftoff of a three-person crew from Kazahkstan.

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New Horizons extended mission target selected

Posted by Emily LakdawallaCasey Dreier on 2015/09/01 06:09 CDT | 5 comments

The New Horizons mission has formally selected its next target after Pluto: a tiny, dim, frozen world currently named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will perform a series of four rocket firings in October and November to angle its trajectory to pass close by 2014 MU69 in early January 2019. In so doing, New Horizons will become the first flyby craft to pass by a target that was not discovered before the spacecraft launched.

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Populating the OSIRIS-REx Science Deck

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/09/01 02:34 CDT | 1 comments

The assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues, with many elements integrated onto the spacecraft ahead of schedule. Last month both OTES and OVIRS were delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the science deck.

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Dropping Orion in the Desert: NASA Completes Key Parachute Test

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/27 01:05 CDT | 2 comments

NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed a key parachute test Aug. 26 at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

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Field Report from Mars: Sol 4119 - August 26, 2015

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2015/08/26 02:53 CDT

Opportunity is moving down into a large valley that cuts through the rim of Endeavour crater, into some interesting scenery.

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Webcomic: Poetry in space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/26 10:11 CDT | 4 comments

Take a delightful, pixelated journey with French artist Boulet as he explains his love for the "infinite void" of the "mathematical skies."

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Three space fan visualizations of New Horizons' Pluto-Charon flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/25 01:42 CDT | 4 comments

It has been a difficult wait for new New Horizons images, but the wait is almost over; Alan Stern announced at today's Outer Planets Advisory Group meeting that image downlink will resume September 5. In the meantime, a few space fans are making the most of the small amount of data that has been returned to date.

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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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