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What's up in the solar system, October 2016 edition: ExoMars arrives!

Emily Lakdawalla • October 04, 2016

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrives on October 19, and it will deliver the Schiaparelli lander to its brief life on the Martian surface. Juno's headed into its science orbit, MOM has released science data, and New Horizons will finally finish downlinking Pluto flyby data.

ESA opens its ears to citizens of Europe

Ruth McAvinia • October 04, 2016

In September, the European Space Agency gathered 2,000 people around the continent to discuss their future in space.

To Mars, with a monster rocket: How politicians and engineers created NASA's Space Launch System

Jason Davis • October 03, 2016

NASA is building a giant rocket called the Space Launch System to send humans to Mars. In part 4 of our Horizon Goal series, we recap the messy tangle of politics and engineering that led to the vehicle's creation in 2011.

Rosetta is gone

Emily Lakdawalla • September 30, 2016

Today there is one less spacecraft returning science data from beyond Earth. The European Space Operations Centre received the final transmission from Rosetta at 11:19 September 30, UT.

Rosetta spacecraft may be dying, but Rosetta science will go on

Emily Lakdawalla • September 29, 2016

The Rosetta mission will end tomorrow when the spacecraft impacts the comet. ESA took advantage of the presence of hundreds of members of the media to put on a showcase of Rosetta science. If there’s one thing I learned today from all the science presentations, it’s this: Rosetta data will be informing scientific work for decades to come.

Dawn Journal: 9th Anniversary

Marc Rayman • September 29, 2016

Nine years ago today, Dawn set sail on an epic journey of discovery and adventure. The intrepid explorer has sailed the cosmic seas and collected treasures that far exceeded anything anticipated or even hoped for.

OSIRIS-REx’s cameras see first light

Emily Lakdawalla • September 29, 2016

As OSIRIS-REx speeds away from Earth, it’s been turning on and testing out its various engineering functions and science instruments. Proof of happy instrument status has come from several cameras, including the star tracker, MapCam, and StowCam.

SpaceX and the Blank Slate

Casey Dreier • September 28, 2016

SpaceX's plans to colonize Mars differ considerably from NASA's Journey to Mars ambitions. But direct comparison is difficult. SpaceX is able to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with a bold new approach to humans in space. NASA has no such luxury, and must use existing pieces and people to make their goals a reality.

A million people in 40 to 100 years: SpaceX unveils plan to colonize Mars

Jason Davis • September 27, 2016

After much anticipation, Elon Musk revealed his plans to colonize Mars. Here are the details, some questions yet to be answered, and a few thoughts on how this could change the way we think about human spaceflight.

Rosetta end-of-mission event schedule

Emily Lakdawalla • September 27, 2016

A schedule of what to expect during Rosetta's final hours September 29 and 30, and how you can follow online.

New Findings are Conclusive: Europa is crying out for exploration

Casey Dreier • September 26, 2016

New scientific findings add to the evidence that Europa is spouting its liquid ocean into space. NASA has a mission to Europa in the works, but it wouldn't launch for at least a decade. Congress can make it faster, but it all depends on whether they can pass a budget this year.

Juno and Marble Movie update at Apojove 1

Emily Lakdawalla • September 22, 2016

Juno is on its second of two long orbits around Jupiter, reaching apojove (its farthest distance from the planet) today.

Where to find rapidly released space image data

Emily Lakdawalla • September 21, 2016

Interested in playing with recent space image data? Here's a list of places to get the freshest photos from space.

Five things we learned from our #RocketRoadTrip

Jason Davis • September 21, 2016

We're back from our #RocketRoadTrip through four states with NASA field centers involved in the agency's Journey to Mars program. We'll be sorting through our material for quite some time, but meanwhile, here are five key things we learned.

Some beautiful new (old) views of Neptune and Triton

Emily Lakdawalla • September 20, 2016

Beautiful new amateur work with 27-year-old Voyager data.

Promise, Transition, and Transformation

Casey Dreier • September 19, 2016

After 10 days, four NASA centers, two contractors, and hundreds of miles, Casey Dreier shares his initial reflections on the state of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and its future.

Women on Spacecraft Missions: Are we moving towards parity with the percentage in the field?

Julie Rathbun • September 16, 2016

How far have we come and how far do we still need to go to welcome women into planetary science, and, particularly, spacecraft missions?

Successful launch for China's Tiangong-2 space station

Emily Lakdawalla • September 15, 2016

Today, China launched its second modular space station, Tiangong 2.

One year remains in the Cassini mission

Emily Lakdawalla • September 15, 2016

Cassini ends a year from today, which is sad. But the final year of the mission is going to be awesome.

Gaia's first galaxy map

Emily Lakdawalla • September 14, 2016

The astronomy world is abuzz today because of ESA's announcement of the first release of data from the Gaia mission. Gaia is a five-year mission that will eventually measure the positions and motions of billions of stars; this first data release includes positions for 1.1 billion of them, and proper motions for 2 million.

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