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Europa New Frontiers Mission? (Or why I like the Europa Clipper concept even more now)

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/07 05:14 CST | 3 comments

Europa remains a top priority for a future mission to explore whether it could host life. While the Europa Clipper mission, remains the current front runner, a senior NASA manager has suggested that the agency may look at still lower cost options. Van Kane looks at what those options might be.

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2013: The Year in Pictures, an addendum

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/07 03:22 CST | 1 comment

Every year, I write a feature article for the year's final issue of The Planetary Report titled "The Year in Pictures." Because The Planetary Report is a printed product, I have to compose the article before the year has ended. So here is an addendum to the printed article, a few images that came in November and December that mark significant events of 2013.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Nears 10-Year Milestone, Oppy Roves On, We Look Back on 2013
Sols 3503–3533

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/01/07 02:00 CST

Opportunity wrapped a landmark year in December, sending home more evidence of ancient habitable environments at Endeavour Crater as the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission geared up to celebrate an historic milestone – the completion of 10 years of surface operations on the Red Planet.

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The Last Flight of the Original Space Ranger

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/01/06 07:13 CST | 11 comments

Remembering the Moon's first extreme close-up.

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India keeps up the momentum, returning troubled GSLV to flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/01/06 11:20 CST | 3 comments

India returned its troubled GSLV to flight Sunday, marking the first successful outing of the country's Cryogenic Upper Stage.

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Looking back at 10 years of imaging by the Mars Exploration Rovers (Video)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/03 01:43 CST | 5 comments

As part of the Planetary Society's celebration of the Mars Exploration Rovers' ten years on Mars, Jim Bell and I got together to look back at and tell stories about some of the great images they took.

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Pretty picture: Two crescents: New moon, old Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/02 03:21 CST | 6 comments

A baby Moon and aging Venus crescents are positioned close in the sky today, and lots of people are taking beautiful photos.

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Planetary Radio: NEOWISE PI Amy Mainzer
NEOWISE has reawakened to discover more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/01/01 12:56 CST | 1 comment

NEOWISE has reawakened to discover many more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up on these discoveries.

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Dawn Journal: Planning for the Ceres Approach Phase

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/01/01 10:43 CST | 4 comments

Now more than halfway through its journey from protoplanet Vesta to dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to use its advanced ion propulsion system to reshape its orbit around the sun. Now that the ship is closer to the uncharted shores ahead than the lands it unveiled astern, we will begin looking at the plans for exploring another alien world.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa 2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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2013: An OSIRIS-REx Retrospective

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2013/12/31 12:53 CST

2013 is drawing to a close, providing a nice opportunity to reflect on the outgoing year and look back at some of the highlights that we have experienced. Here are my top-20 OSIRIS-REx moments of this past year.

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spies Chang'e 3 and Yutu

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/30 04:36 CST | 4 comments

As promised, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's sharp eyes spotted the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover on the lunar surface on December 25. The hardware shows up as a few bright pixels throwing long, dark shadows, clearly visible in a before-and-after comparison.

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The Mercury Transit You Probably Missed

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/12/30 10:29 CST | 2 comments

Planetary transits of the Sun by Mercury and Venus don't come along very often, and when they do we make a big deal of it because, well, it's really cool!

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Snow balls in space

Posted by Mike Brown on 2013/12/29 02:45 CST | 4 comments

I don’t get much snow in southern California, but I do spend a lot of my time thinking about college snowball experiences and about the snowball fights that have made the objects of the outer solar system.

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NASA’s New Planetary Mission Woes
Budget cuts slow down the rate of new missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/27 04:49 CST | 2 comments

NASA’s planetary science program depends on regular missions to solar system bodies to gather data. A combination of budget cuts and previous commitments to develop missions currently in the pipeline means that development of follow on missions may slow to a crawl. Van Kane looks at the current situation and NASA’s plans and then look at options the agency may consider if budgets remain tight into the next decade.

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Hangout on Air Friday, December 27 14:00 UT: Student Astronaut 10th Reunion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/27 08:00 CST

When Spirit and Opportunity landed in 2004, I was with the science team in charge of a group of high-school students called the Red Rover Goes to Mars Student Astronauts. We're coming up on the 10th anniversary of the landings -- what have those "kids" grown up into?

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Asteroid Minerva finds its magical weapons in the sky

Posted by Franck Marchis on 2013/12/26 11:48 CST

The International Astronomical Union has chosen the names Aegis and Gorgoneion for the two moons of the asteroid (93) Minerva. We decided to crowd-source the names, catching the attention of the public. Over the following year, I received a lot of emails with suggestions

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 9: The Lives of the Stars
In which we are star stuff

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/24 03:11 CST | 3 comments

This episode highlights the other big idea in Cosmos: that we are profoundly connected with the universe around us. Our constituent parts are forged in the bellies of massive stars; we exist through their deaths.

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Planetary Radio: Ten Years A Roving: The Mars Exploration Rovers

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/12/24 09:18 CST

This week's show looks back over ten years of exploration by Spirit and Opportunity. Writer A.J.S. Rayl recounts the challenges encountered early in the mission, and how an outstanding team triumphed.

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Chang'e 3 update with lots of pictures: Yutu begins lunar journey

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/23 02:54 CST | 9 comments

There was a lot of action on Chang'e 3 over the weekend! I have lots of pictures to share, including the highest-quality one I've seen of the rover on the surface, plus video of the rover making tracks on the Moon and a 3D view of the lander.

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