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Blog Archive


The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Completes 14 Years of Exploring, Opportunity Roves into Year 15!

A.J.S. Rayl • January 31, 2018

In January, Opportunity quietly completed 14 years of surface operations on Mars—the longest-lived robot on another planet.

Bill Nye and the State of a Polarized Union

Casey Dreier • January 30, 2018

Last week, The Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye accepted an invitation by NASA Administrator nominee Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to join him as his guest at the State of the Union address. We anticipated this would be a controversial decision, and we were right.

Engineering Qualification Model confirms performance of the Mastcam-Z!

Jim Bell • January 30, 2018

Just this past week, assembly of the Mastcam-Z EQM was completed, and we saw for the first time what one of our Mars zoom cameras would really look like.

Reconstructing the Viking '75 Mars lander Surface Sampler Collector

Tom Dahl • January 29, 2018

Viking enthusiast Tom Dahl has created an animation demonstrating the operation of the Viking lander's Surface Sampler Acquisition Assembly, or "scoop."

Some big moons in the Kuiper belt

Emily Lakdawalla • January 25, 2018

In a new preprint, Mike Brown and Bryan Butler show evidence that two Kuiper belt moons are even bigger than we used to think. They are Eris' moon Dysnomia, and Orcus' moon Vanth.

Creating a guidebook for Earth's hypothetical twin

Jason Davis • January 25, 2018

Early Earth's atmosphere wasn't a place for humans. Yet the planet had microbial life—something we should keep in mind for exoplanets.

International meetings: Moon initiatives

James D. Burke • January 25, 2018

Interest is rising globally in expanded lunar science, resource exploration and eventually permanent human settlement. Also, the potential for commercial lunar enterprises is being seriously examined.

New Horizons prepares for encounter with 2014 MU69

Emily Lakdawalla • January 24, 2018

Throughout 2018, New Horizons will cruise toward its January 1 encounter with 2014 MU69. Preparations for the flyby are nearly complete.

Here's our rolling list of space things affected by the U.S. government shutdown

Jason Davis and Emily Lakdawalla • January 22, 2018

The International Space Station stays open for business; everything else is at least somewhat affected.

Space Policy & Advocacy Program Quarterly Report - January 2018

Casey Dreier • January 19, 2018

As a service to our members and to promote transparency, The Planetary Society's Space Policy and Advocacy team publishes quarterly reports on their activities, actions, priorities, and goals in service of their efforts to promote space science and exploration in Washington, D.C.

Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye to Attend the State of the Union Address

Casey Dreier • January 18, 2018

When a congressman and current nominee for NASA Administrator asks you to be his guest at the state of the union address in Washington, D.C., how do you respond? For us, the answer was easy. Yes, Bill would be there.

Let's talk about NASA's latest commercial crew delay

Jason Davis • January 17, 2018

SpaceX and Boeing might not be certified to carry astronauts to the International Space Station until 2019 or 2020.

Dawn Journal: 4 Billion Miles

Marc Rayman • January 17, 2018

Permanently in residence at dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is now preparing to add some finishing touches to its mission.

A new look at Venus with Akatsuki

Damia Bouic • January 16, 2018

Amateur image processor Damia Bouic shares a plethora of stunning new images of Venus captured by a Japanese spacecraft.

HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 4.0

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2018

The latest and greatest update of Emily's list of all the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE images that contain Curiosity hardware, tracks, or traverses.

No plumes? No problem. How Europa Clipper will analyze an icy moon's ocean

Jason Davis • January 11, 2018

Europa doesn't have grandiose plumes like Enceladus. So how will the Clipper mission figure out what's in Europa's ocean?

Curiosity update, sols 1814-1926: Vera Rubin Ridge Walkabout

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2018

Curiosity is climbing across the top of Vera Rubin Ridge, spying varicolored rocks. It's getting closer to being ready to drill again, and has performed a wet chemistry experiment for the first time.

Winter 2017/2018 issue of The Planetary Report

Donna Stevens • January 06, 2018

The Winter 2017/2018 issue of The Planetary Report is arriving in Planetary Society members’ mailboxes—but members who like to read their magazine on the screen can pick it up online.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Beats Winter, Wraps 2017, and Heads for 14th Anniversary

A.J.S. Rayl • January 05, 2018

With the Martian winter on the run, Opportunity cruised closer to its 14th anniversary of exploring the Red Planet in December as she deliberated a distinctive “fork in the road” deep in Perseverance Valley and wrapped another record year.

What changed with space directive #1?

Casey Dreier • December 30, 2017

President Trump signed Space Directive #1, formally implementing as policy what Vice President Pence had announced at the first meeting of the National Space Council in October: that NASA will focus its human spaceflight efforts on a return to the Moon, and then onto Mars. What really changed?

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