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NASA Kicks Off a Private Space Race Between Boeing and SpaceX

Posted by Jason DavisCasey Dreier on 2014/09/17 12:55 CDT | 9 comments

Boeing and SpaceX have won multi-billion dollar contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: One Mars Express plan becomes two

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/09/17 10:44 CDT | 2 comments

The Mars Express Flight Control Team at ESOC have been actively preparing for the flyby of comet C/2013 A1/Siding Spring on October 19. Initial estimates gave the possibility that Mars Express might be hit by 2 or 3 high-speed particles. Happily, additional observations by ground and space telescopes have shown the risk to be much lower – and perhaps even as low as zero. In today's blog post, the team explain how this (happy!) real-life, real-time development is affecting their preparations for fly-by.

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Mars Orbiter Mission prepares for Mars arrival

Posted by Srinivas Laxman on 2014/09/16 01:12 CDT | 3 comments

The countdown for the crucial and nerve-wracking Mars orbit insertion of India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on September 24 has kicked off. At ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore, the mood among the scientists is right now a mixture of optimism, excitement, and nervous apprehension.

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Mars Orbiter Mission arrival timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/16 01:11 CDT | 15 comments

Mars Orbiter Mission's fated arrival day is approaching fast! Here is the timeline of orbit insertion events, converted from India Standard Time to Universal, European, and Pacific time zones, and corrected for the 12.5 minutes it will take signals to reach Earth from Mars.

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A landing site for Philae, but it's not going to be easy

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/15 04:53 CDT | 7 comments

This morning, the European Space Agency announced the selection of a landing site for little Philae on the head of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Although a primary site has been selected, landing Philae successfully is going to be tough, and the mission is now working to manage people's expectations.

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Curiosity update, sols 727-747: Beginning the "Mission to Mount Sharp"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/12 07:08 CDT | 3 comments

A lot has happened behind the scenes on the Curiosity mission in the last few weeks. The mission received a pretty negative review from a panel convened to assess the relative quality of seven different proposed extended planetary science missions. Then, just a week later, the mission announced big news: they have arrived at Mount Sharp.

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An Updated List of NASA's Commercial Crew Partner Milestones

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/09/12 04:42 CDT | 7 comments

Ahead of NASA's CCiCap partner selection, here is an up-to-date list of each company's milestones.

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OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Passes First Major Qualification Test

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/09/12 10:18 CDT

The development of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make great progress having recently completed static load testing.

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New Rosetta views and first science on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko from EPSC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/11 04:56 CDT | 3 comments

At the European Planetary Science Congress held this week in Portugal, the Rosetta team showcased some early science results from Rosetta's mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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Recovery. Peak. Collapse. Planetary Science from 1990 - 2014

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/11 12:25 CDT | 4 comments

The history of planetary exploration repeats itself starting with a resurgent program in the 90s and 2000s that launched a new fleet of planetary spacecraft. Like our first story, this great success rewarded by deep budget cuts.

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Expedition 40 Crew Returns Safely to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/09/11 11:47 CDT

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev are safely back on Earth following a five-and-a-half month stay aboard the International Space Station.

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Planetary Science Gets Its Day in Congress
Watch our President testify on Sept. 10th

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/09/09 04:45 CDT

Watch Planetary Society President Jim Bell testify before a congressional subcommittee on Wednesday, September 10th.

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So Close and Yet So Far: Why isn't Siding Spring going to sandblast Mars?

Posted by Tony Farnham on 2014/09/09 09:02 CDT | 5 comments

Comet Siding Spring is going to make a very close approach to Mars in October. Any comet dust that reaches Mars has the potential to inflict significant damage on the spacecraft orbiting the planet. As it turns out, however, Mars and its orbiters are likely to see very few, if any, impacts. Why?

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Growth. Peak. Collapse. Planetary exploration from 1959 - 1989

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/08 11:24 CDT | 4 comments

The first three decades of planetary exploration tell a story that sounds all-too-familiar to modern day space advocates. Growth, peak, and then collapse of hard-earned capability. This is the story of planetary science for the first half of its existence.

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Pretty pictures: Vesta's dark material

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/05 10:38 CDT | 1 comments

More masterful processing of Dawn Vesta images by Björn Jónsson, including Aelia crater and some mysterious dark splats near Fulvia crater.

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Mars Orbiter Mission to test-fire main engine before orbit insertion
UPDATE: Test firing to take place September 22

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/04 12:59 CDT | 1 comments

According to a report in the Times of India, ISRO is deciding today whether to test-fire Mars Orbiter Mission's main engine to make sure it will work for their all-important orbit insertion maneuver on September 24. Both ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA's MAVEN are in good health and on track for their arrivals in three weeks.

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Latest Rosetta NavCam images reveal jets on Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/04 12:12 CDT | 5 comments

ESA released another set of NavCam images of the comet today, and lo and behold, there are jets! We knew they were there, from an earlier OSIRIS image, but it's tremendously cool to see the comet behaving like a proper comet should.

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Cassini's awesomeness fully funded through mission's dramatic end in 2017

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/03 07:54 CDT | 9 comments

Last year, rumors swirled that NASA may be so pinched for dollars that the agency might end the Cassini mission early. Today, Cassini received the welcome news that it has formally been funded through the planned end of its extended-extended mission in 2017. A huge congratulations to the Cassini mission!

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Curiosity Rover Science Plan Slammed by NASA Review Panel
Planetary science senior review still supports continued funding

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/09/03 01:55 CDT | 19 comments

Senior review recommends continuing all major planetary exploration missions, but not without some changes.

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LightSail Radio Update: New Answers, New Questions

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/09/03 01:47 CDT | 5 comments

Two weeks after radio anomalies scrubbed LightSail's day-in-the-life test, the team continues to close in on the source of the problem.

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