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PHILAE HAS LANDED! [UPDATED]

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/12 10:21 CST | 16 comments

The landing happened on time just after 16:02 UT today! Philae mission manager Stephan Ulamec said: "Philae is talking to us! The first thing he told us was the harpoons have been fired and rewound. We are sitting on the surface." Those words later turned out not to be true; but we do know at least that Philae survived the landing and is returning good data.

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Philae update: Photo documentation of Philae's separation!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/12 08:22 CST | 4 comments

Here it is. We knew hours ago that Philae separation happened, but there's nothing like seeing a photo, seeing Philae's mothership receding into the distance.

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Philae update: "Go" for landing, despite apparent failure of cold-gas jet system [UPDATED]

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/12 01:26 CST | 4 comments

Philae is "go" for landing. But there has been drama overnight. One of the steps to prepare for landing did not proceed as planned. UPDATE: At 09:03 UTC, the lander separated from the orbiter, beginning a 7-hour descent to the surface of the comet.

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Philae update: First of four "go-no-go" decisions is a GO!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/11 01:21 CST | 3 comments

It's been a day of calm before the storm here at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, as we get ready for the big event tomorrow: Philae's hoped-for landing on a comet. The first of four "go-no-go" decisions has been made, and it's a "go." Mission navigators have gotten data back from Rosetta that indicates that the spacecraft is on the correct trajectory to deliver Philae to the comet.

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Report from Darmstadt: Philae status and early Rosetta results from DPS

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/11 03:04 CST | 3 comments

I'm reporting live from the press room at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. There's little news on Philae yet except that its status is good. Meanwhile, Rosetta scientists presented their first early comet results at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson, Arizona, which I watched from afar using Twitter.

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In Pictures: Expedition 41 Crew Returns to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/11/10 09:33 CST

The crew of Expedition 41 is safely back on Earth following a 165-day stay aboard the International Space Station.

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Interstellar: The movie that deserves to be called “Gravity”

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/11/09 07:24 CST | 7 comments

Mat Kaplan gives his thoughts on the newest space film to hit theatres, "Interstellar."

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Hunting Binary Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/11/07 05:31 CST

Thanks to The Planetary Society’s Shoemaker NEO Grant program, a new telescope has been brought to bear focusing on searching for and understanding the properties of binary asteroid systems.

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An Early Preview of Orion's Maiden Voyage

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/11/07 11:24 CST | 4 comments

NASA's Orion spacecraft is just four weeks away from its first test flight. Here's an early preview of the mission.

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TPS at DPS: A Screening of Desert Moon, Advocacy with Casey Dreier, and a Sagan Lecture

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/11/06 04:00 CST | 3 comments

The Planetary Society will be well-represented at next week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson, Ariz.

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Philae landing preview: What to expect on landing day

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/05 04:15 CST | 8 comments

Earth's first-ever landing on a comet is a week away. On November 12 at 8:35 UT, Philae will separate from Rosetta. Seven hours later, it will arrive at the surface of the comet. Hopefully, Philae will survive the landing, and begin to return data.

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The Consequences of the 2014 Midterm Elections for NASA
Some priority shifts, but there is unlikely to be a major change the direction of the space program

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/05 02:36 CST | 17 comments

A Republican Senate will not drastically change the course of the nation's space program, though it will likely see less funding for NASA and a difficult path forward for the Asteroid Retrieval Mission.

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Undeniable Commitment to Education, Empowerment & Understanding the Cosmos

Posted by Erin Greeson on 2014/11/04 06:07 CST | 2 comments

Today, The Planetary Society celebrates our CEO Bill Nye’s latest science education feat: the release of his book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Erin Greeson, The Planetary Society's director of communications, tells us about it.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Images Comet, Ducks Storm, Departs Ulysses
Sols 3800 - 3829

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/11/04 10:02 CST

As winds whirled and converged to the west of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity's power dropped dramatically in October, but the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) pressed on. By month's end, the robot field geologist had completed her assignments – including capturing the first close-in shot of a comet from the surface of the Red Planet – and was roving onward through the darkness, driving the mission into the 130th month of what started out more than 10-and-a-half years ago to be a 3-month tour.

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Fall Issue of The Planetary Report is Here!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2014/11/04 08:14 CST

The fall issue of The Planetary Report has mailed and is on its way to our members’ doors. Those of you who prefer an electronic file, or a preview of the printed copy, can pick it up online.

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Seven Mars spacecraft attempted observations of comet Siding Spring. How did they go?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/03 04:03 CST | 6 comments

It's been two weeks since comet Siding Spring passed close by Mars, and six of the seven Mars spacecraft have now checked in with quick looks at their images of the encounter. I round up all the results.

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Chang'e 5 test vehicle flying on to Earth-Moon L2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/03 12:21 CST | 3 comments

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle service module did not follow the sample return capsule into Earth's atmosphere. Instead, it successfully performed a divert maneuver, and is now on its way to the Earth-Moon L2 point

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SpaceShipTwo Feathering System Prematurely Deployed before Fatal Breakup

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/11/03 11:33 CST | 1 comments

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo disintegrated shortly after the space plane's tail stabilizers prematurely deployed, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Dawn Journal: Ion thrusting (or not)

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/11/02 02:30 CST | 8 comments

Marc Rayman gives the latest update on the Dawn mission, focusing this time on the performance of its ion propulsion system.

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Chang'e 5 test vehicle "Xiaofei" lands successfully

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/31 06:23 CDT | 1 comments

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle landed successfully in Inner Mongolia today after an 8-day mission. It demonstrated technology that China plans to use for automated sample return by the Chang'e 5 mission in 2017.

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