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Planetary Society solar sails paved way for Alpha Centauri starshot

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/22 06:01 CDT | 4 comments

A new initiative to send a fleet of tiny spacecraft to Alpha Centauri is connected to The Planetary Society through its founders and efforts to advance solar sailing technology.

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Moonset over Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/21 10:23 CDT | 1 comments

Enjoy this serene image of a moonset on another world, captured by Curiosity's Mastcam in April 2014 and processed here by Justin Cowart.

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Engineering an Impact on the New Frontier

Posted by Bradley Williams on 2016/04/21 08:01 CDT

Bradley Williams, Systems Engineer for the camera suite on NASA's OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission, details the path that led him to his current position.

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Atmospheric Waves Awareness: An Explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/04/20 10:30 CDT | 4 comments

There are two types of atmospheric waves that are critically important on Earth and other planets: gravity waves and planetary waves.

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Synthesizing DSCOVR-like Images Using Atmospheric and Geophysical Data

Posted by Steve Albers on 2016/04/20 08:00 CDT | 3 comments

Why does our planet look the way it does from space? How does light interacting with land, clouds, water, snow, ice, gases, and various aerosols all come together? One way to learn the answer is to try and synthesize DSCOVR's view from various "building blocks" of geophysical and atmospheric data.

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A new angle on Mars for Mars Odyssey

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/19 01:05 CDT | 4 comments

Mars Odyssey has been in space for 15 years. It flies in a special "sun-synchronous" orbit, crossing the equator at roughly the same local time every day. Over time, the Odyssey mission has changed what that local time of day is, and I just realized something cool about how those changes show up in the geometry of its images.

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LightSail 2 engineers continue to test for success

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/18 06:00 CDT | 3 comments

It's been a busy two months of system testing for The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft. More trials are on the horizon, including a trip to a special magnetic cage at Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory.

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Spring Issue of The Planetary Report Has Arrived!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2016/04/15 09:17 CDT

The Spring 2016 edition of The Planetary Report has just printed and will arrive at our mail house this week. Any member who wants a digital copy can download the issue through our website.

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Favorite Astro Plots #4: Classifying Exoplanets

Posted by Jingjing Chen on 2016/04/15 08:04 CDT | 6 comments

Until just a few years ago, a plot of mass versus size of other worlds would have looked pretty sparse and uninformative. But thanks to the tireless efforts of exoplanet astronomers, we now know fairly precise masses and radii for hundreds of distant worlds.

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LPSC 2016: The Moon Keeps on Giving

Posted by Ryan Clegg-Watkins on 2016/04/14 08:04 CDT | 1 comments

There was no shortage of interesting lunar science talks at last month’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Dr. Ryan Clegg-Watkins highlights some of the interesting results for us.

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Does Presidential Intervention Undermine Consensus for NASA?
Being on the presidential agenda may induce opposition that could have been avoided

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/04/13 05:54 CDT | 14 comments

Presidents induce polarization on topics they choose to promote. So is the best way for a President to promote consensus in NASA to speak quietly?

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Curiosity update, sols 1250-1310: Across the Naukluft Plateau

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/13 02:57 CDT | 8 comments

Curiosity has driven onward from Namib dune across a highstanding unit of rock called the Naukluft Plateau. Despite some frustrating sols lost to a short circuit in the RTG and DSN troubles, the rover has made progress, and performed lots of 3D imaging of weirdly wind-eroded rocks.

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Full-circle ceremony sends last shuttle tank to sea

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/13 11:20 CDT

The last unflown space shuttle fuel tank is underway to California, following a full-circle ceremony in view of hardware built for the shuttle's heavy lift successor, the Space Launch System.

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Opposition surge comet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/12 10:43 CDT | 1 comments

Today, the Rosetta OSIRIS team's Image of the Day is this highly unusual view of the comet with the Sun very nearly behind the spacecraft.

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Defining the Missions for the Ocean Worlds

Posted by Van Kane on 2016/04/12 10:03 CDT | 2 comments

At a recent meeting of an advisory group for NASA, the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS), Jim Green, the head of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, and Barry Goldstein from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, provided updates on plans to explore our solar system's ocean worlds.

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LPSC 2016: Differentiated meteorites provide a glimpse of the early solar system and planets

Posted by Helen Ashcroft on 2016/04/11 01:07 CDT | 2 comments

This year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference included a session devoted to a group of rocks from space called differentiated meteorites, and their proposed parent bodies.

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Last unflown space shuttle tank heads seaward for new mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/11 04:03 CDT

The last unflown space shuttle external fuel tank was loaded onto a barge at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility Sunday in New Orleans. It will ship to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to be joined with space shuttle Endeavour.

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Follow along: SpaceX CRS-8 launch and landing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/08 11:56 CDT

Follow along with The Planetary Society as SpaceX launches a Dragon spacecraft to the ISS and attempts to land a used booster rocket on a drone ship in the ocean. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:43 p.m. EDT (20:43 UTC).

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How to Make a Pluto Globe

Posted by Sarah Morrison on 2016/04/08 08:02 CDT | 3 comments

Want to make your own globe of Pluto? Here's how!

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Live mice, cabbage, and a drone ship: Your SpaceX Dragon launch preview

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/07 05:36 CDT | 5 comments

Tomorrow afternoon, SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station for the first time since a catastrophic accident last June.

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