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Beautiful view into the valley beyond Dingo Gap, Curiosity sol 528

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/31 02:41 CST | 6 comments

A beautiful Mastcam panorama from sol 528 shows a landscape so much more like Earth than anything we've explored on the Martian surface before.

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Conspiracy Theorist Sues NASA, Wastes Everybody's Time
The "jelly doughnut" rock found next to Opportunity is the focus of a new lawsuit

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/31 01:30 CST | 16 comments

The "jelly doughnut" rock found next to Opportunity is the focus of a new lawsuit alleging that NASA is not properly looking for life.

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The New Cosmos Has a New Trailer

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/30 01:14 CST | 4 comments

Fox just released a new trailer for Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, which will debut March 9th and feature Neil deGrasse Tyson as host.

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Curiosity update: imaging the nonfunctioning REMS boom, closer to Dingo Gap

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/29 04:22 CST | 2 comments

At long last, on sol 526, Curiosity imaged the part of the weather instrument that was damaged during landing, but no obvious damage is visible, to me anyway. On sol 527 they drove even closer to Dingo Gap, with plans to drive onto the dune in the sol 528 drive.

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LADEE spotted by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/29 03:11 CST

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has managed to snap a photo of the other current lunar orbiter, LADEE, at the Moon.

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I'm on All Things Considered today, talking about poor Yutu

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/28 05:06 CST | 7 comments

As a lifetime listener of National Public Radio, it's beyond strange to hear my voice on All Things Considered! I wish it were for a happier reason, but I was invited on by Geoff Brumfiel to talk about the fate of poor Yutu.

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Mars 2020 Is No Redo
The next major mission to Mars will push the envelope in technology

Posted by G. Scott Hubbard on 2014/01/28 01:02 CST | 9 comments

The next major mission to Mars will push the technological envelope in way that preserves its budget and fulfills the scientific goals set by the planetary community for this decade.

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 11: The Persistence of Memory
In which we don't understand intelligence

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/27 11:55 CST | 7 comments

Cosmos stumbles with an episode that is plodding, scattered, and more than a little preachy. This episode will only persist in my memory as a shadow of what could have been.

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A new comet observing campaign for C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)
You thought you were rid of us...but we're baa-aaack!

Posted by Karl Battams on 2014/01/27 11:22 CST | 1 comment

You thought you were rid of us...but we're back! Following the spectacular and, quite frankly unprecedented, success of the Comet ISON Observing Campaign, we are launching a similar venture for another unique cometary encounter that's happening this year. In October 2014, comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass extremely close to Mars.

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The Giant Spider of Mercury

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/01/27 01:23 CST | 3 comments

Striking terrain discovered by the MESSENGER probe.

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Bad news for Yutu rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/25 05:33 CST | 8 comments

The Sun has set for a second time at Chang'e 3's landing site on the Moon. The lander is operating normally and shut down to sleep as expected, but the rover is not responding properly to Earth command so could not prepare properly for the oncoming lunar night, and likely will not survive it.

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Curiosity images "Dingo Gap," sols 519-521

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/24 05:45 CST | 1 comment

Over the last few days, Curiosity made steady driving progress to the southwest. For several of those days, an intriguing feature has appeared on the horizon in her images. UPDATE: The Curiosity team has now decided to drive the rover toward the feature, which is now named "Dingo Gap."

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New Horizons: Updates From the January 2014 Science Team Meeting, Part 2

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/01/24 01:16 CST | 3 comments

Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting. Updates include the status of the Kuiper Belt target search and the use of ALMA to refine Pluto's ephemeris.

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The Planetary Society Congratulates Opportunity's Team for 10 Years on Mars

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/24 12:23 CST

The Planetary Society released an official statement today recognizing the unprecedented achievement of maintaining an operating rover on the surface of Mars for a decade.

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New Horizons: Updates From the Science Team Meeting, Part 1

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/01/23 06:15 CST | 1 comment

Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting.

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Closing out the ASRG program

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/23 02:04 CST

Lockheed, the prime contract on the now-defunct Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator program, is closing out the project and transferring its hardware to NASA's Glenn Research Center. NASA expects to save about $55 million per year.

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Russia's Ambitious Planetary Exploration Goals

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/22 11:58 CST | 5 comments

Roscosmos has ambitious planetary exploration plans in the coming decades, including a series of solo lunar missions and joint missions to Mars with the European Space Agency.

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A Note on the State of Planetary Science

Posted by Heidi Hammel on 2014/01/22 05:14 CST | 6 comments

Heidi Hammel, the Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Science, reacts to the recent budget news and the uncertain future for planetary science at NASA.

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Curiosity update, sols 488-520: Steady driving while watching the wheels

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2014/01/22 03:38 CST | 1 comment

In the last month, Curiosity put 222 meters on the odometer in 12 short drives, while regularly assessing the wheels for damage. The rover performed touch-and-go analyses of rocks including Oneida and Kodak, and also took some ChemCam RMI mosaics of rocks near the base of Mount Sharp.

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Super-close supernova in M82

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/22 11:31 CST | 8 comments

The astronomy world is all a-twitter this morning over the discovery of a new supernova in M82, a galaxy that's in our astronomical backyard, "only" 12 million light-years away. And early word is that it appears to be a Type Ia supernova, the kind that's used as a standard candle to measure the expansion of the universe.

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