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Quick Chang'e 3 and Mars Orbiter Mission updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/11 11:01 CST | 6 comments

Yesterday Chang'e 3 lowered its orbit periapsis to a mere 15 kilometers, and Mars Orbiter Mission successfully performed a trajectory correction maneuver.

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Top NASA Scientists Grapple with Budget Cuts
A struggle to keep new missions coming

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/10 05:52 CST | 3 comments

Ellen Stofan, NASA's Chief Scientist, and John Grunsfeld, the head of the Science Mission Directorate and a Hubble repair astronaut, highlighted recent NASA science discoveries at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.

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Planetary Radio: Comet ISON, Rest in Pieces

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/12/10 12:02 CST

Karl Battams of NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign is our guest on this week's show. He explains how ISON really did become the comet of the century for scientists.

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A Protected Class of Programs at NASA?
What real political support looks like

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/10 04:20 CST | 7 comments

The House Science Committee is considering giving a select few NASA programs special protected status against cancellation.

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Curiosity results at AGU: Gale crater rocks are old, but have been exposed recently

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/09 08:31 CST | 4 comments

In a Martian first, the Curiosity science team has measured the age of a Martian rock, in two totally different ways. They presented the result at the 2013 meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

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The Sorry State of Planetary Science Funding In One Chart

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/09 02:18 CST | 12 comments

If you want to know why Cassini might be terminated early, or why NASA pulled out of its joint Mars mission with Europe, or why the new ASRG power source was put on indefinite hold, this chart has your answer.

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The Mists of Mars

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/12/09 10:58 CST | 3 comments

Two grand canyons fill with fog, one on Earth and one on Mars.

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The ASRG Cancellation in Context

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/09 12:50 CST | 8 comments

ASRGs could have stretched NASA's limited supply of plutonium to potentially enable missions to the perpetually-shadowed polar craters on our moon, to flyby Uranus, or to float for months on a Titan lake.

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Dawn Journal: Equidistant from Vesta and Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/12/06 08:31 CST | 1 comment

Gliding smoothly through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn continues to make good progress on its ambitious mission of exploration. It is patiently but persistently pursuing Ceres, the second destination on its interplanetary itinerary.

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Attend the 2013 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union virtually

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/06 02:10 CST

Next week is the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), an enormous gathering of geoscientists of all varieties that occurs every year at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. AGU is putting increasing effort into making it possible to attend some sessions virtually, and press briefings will be webstreamed, too.

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Chang'e 3 has arrived in lunar orbit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/06 09:53 CST | 13 comments

Just a quick update: Chang'e 3 successfully entered lunar orbit today at 09:53 UTC, after a 361-second lunar orbit insertion burn.

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Why We're Writing the President (& Congress) Now

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/06 01:37 CST | 6 comments

Decisions about both the 2014 and 2015 budgets are happening soon.

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Chang'e 3 and LADEE updates -- and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, too, for good measure

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/05 08:40 CST

Chang'e 3 is just about to land on the Moon, and the LADEE orbiter has begun a new science mission there, while Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is still producing amazing images.

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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama
Mr. President, be bold and embrace a vision of planetary exploration at NASA

Posted by Bill Nye on 2013/12/05 06:15 CST | 16 comments

Bill Nye writes President Obama arguing that the President should embrace a bold future of planetary exploration.

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Comet ISON Wrap Up
A Tail of Cat-Possums and the Undead

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/12/05 05:49 CST

Comet ISON captivated our world, and many of our world’s robotic emissaries for many months. But, alas, poor ISON is dead -- again. Here I wrap up our enthusiastic coverage of this multi-morphing zombie comet that tried to survive and re-survive as it came within one solar diameter of the Sun.

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Mars' chemical history: Phyllosian, Theiikian, Siderikian, oh my

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/05 01:08 CST | 4 comments

I'm returning to the deep dive into the literature that began with articles about lunar basins and then explored the geologic time scales of Earth, Moon, and Mars. Now it's time to catch up to the last decade of Mars research and learn what "phyllosian", "theiikian", and "siderikian" eras are.

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Comet ISON live blog

Posted by Emily LakdawallaBruce Betts on 2013/12/05 10:00 CST | 10 comments

Comet ISON reached perihelion at 18:25 UT (10:25 PT) on November 28. It's an event that's was watched around the world, accompanied by tons of commentary and streams of photos. We will update this blog entry periodically with links to all the resources that we hear of for following the comet's progress.

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What's Going on With Planetary Science Research?
Budget cuts mixed with a new way to fund science could disproportionately impact the next generation of planetary scientists

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/04 01:44 CST | 5 comments

Budget cuts mixed with a new way to fund science could disproportionately impact the next generation of planetary scientists.

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Planetary Dirt Sampling Success

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/12/04 01:17 CST | 3 comments

We present an update and a video about the successful design, construction, and testing in a vacuum chamber by Honeybee Robotics of a prototype PlanetVac system, a new planetary surface sampling technique, sponsored by The Planetary Society. PlanetVac is a reliable system that effectively vacuums up planetary surface materials.

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Pretty picture: newly processed high-res view of a fractured icy moon, Dione

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/04 11:38 CST | 4 comments

Here's a lovely new view of Dione, one of the lovely mid-sized icy moons of Saturn, assembled by Daniel Macháček.

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