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Mountains rising for Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/31 10:11 CDT

The views from Opportunity of Endeavour's near and distant rim peaks are getting ever more vertical as Opportunity approaches Cape York.

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Origins 2011 conference, part 2

Posted by Frank Trixler on 2011/07/27 10:03 CDT

In this, my second blog on Origins 2011 in Montpellier, France, a conference dedicated to the interdisciplinary research on the origins of life, I aim to provide my impression of the second half of the conference.

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It's official now: Curiosity is going to Gale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/22 12:50 CDT

The news leaked a few weeks ago has turned out to be true: the next Mars rover, Curiosity, will be headed for Gale crater on Mars when it launches at the end of this year.

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Opportunity's horizon rises -- and maybe brings Cape York into view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/21 03:12 CDT

For miles and miles of Martian terrain, Opportunity's view forward has contained a distinctive line of hills—the far rim of Endeavour crater.

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Origins 2011 conference, part 1

Posted by Frank Trixler on 2011/07/14 12:53 CDT

The Origins 2011 conference, which took place last week in Montpellier, France, was dedicated to the origins of life and its occurrence in the universe. At this meeting, scientists from very different disciplines came together to share their ideas.

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Summary of the fifth MSL landing site selection meeting

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2011/07/06 10:40 CDT

Well, after three days of fascinating science and heated discussion, the fifth and final MSL landing site workshop has come to a close, and the consensus is -- that all of the sites are pretty darn interesting.

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Summer Sights of the Solar System

Posted by Ray Sanders on 2011/06/07 03:23 CDT

What can you expect to see if you look at the night sky this summer (2011)?

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Zapping Rocks for Science

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2011/05/27 09:01 CDT

Laser beams and space exploration are perfect for each other, and not just because all self-respecting starship captains know their way around a blaster. It turns out that zapping rocks with a laser is not only fun, it also can tell you what they're made of!

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A picture of Spirit that's too poetical for words

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/25 01:25 CDT

Yesterday, I remarked that despite the declaration of her death we'll be seeing Spirit frequently over the next few years, as long as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still monitoring her landing site with its HiRISE camera. I said that Spirit is a lump that's relatively easy to spot because of her dark shadow. Well, Spirit's managed to make herself even easier to spot than that.

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It's opposite day at the Curiosity landing site selection meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/18 01:20 CDT

I've been attending the final Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Community Workshop meeting this week, taking copious notes for a future article in The Planetary Report, some of which I'll post here when I get a chance. But I just had to write a brief post about the totally crazy role reversal that is going on at this meeting.

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Memo to early risers: Look up!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/02 11:46 CDT

There is a traffic jam of planets on the eastern horizon in the early morning right now and for the next several weeks, a prize for those of you who have to rise before dawn.

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The scale of our solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/02 11:26 CDT

Space.com has taken advantage of the infinitely scrollable nature of Web pages to produce a really cool infographic on the scales of orbital distances in the solar system.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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Welcome to Carnival of Space #191

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/05 11:25 CDT

Welcome, everyone, to the Planetary Society Blog for the 191st Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

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LPSC 2011: Kirby Runyon on Mars, the Moon, Hartley 2, and Ganymede

Posted by Kirby Runyon on 2011/03/15 01:57 CDT

Kirby Runyon, a second-year grad student at Temple University, offered to send me some writeups of selected presentations from last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, and I enthusiastically agreed.

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LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/03/10 11:11 CST

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

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Martian timekeeping

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/09 12:23 CST

While scanning through the talks scheduled for this week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference I came across the following talk title: "Interannual and Seasonal Variability in the North Polar Region of Mars: Observations in Mars Years 29 and 30 by MARCI, CTX, and CRISM." My first thought was "hey, cool research spanning a long time period and across data sets." But my second was "Mars years 29 and 30? What does that mean?"

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Pretty picture: Viking 1 across Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/09 10:10 CST

Image magician Daniel Macháček has been turning his energies to Viking Orbiter views of Mars lately, with some stunning results, like the one below. I'm not sure how he makes images that look so sharp and clean and with such rich color out of the Viking Orbiter data.

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Endeavour on Opportunity's horizon: Are we there yet?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/02 03:45 CST

Last week the Mars Exploration Rover team dumped another 90 sols' worth of data from Mars into NASA's Planetary Data System, the national repository for space mission data. As I did once before, I dove into this fresh pile of data to pull out Opportunity's color views of the distant rim of Endeavour crater.

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A Planetary Society Trifecta

Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2011/02/25 03:25 CST

A Planetary Society trifecta -- that's what Neil Tyson calls this episode of his StarTalk radio show broadcast this week. His guests include the Society's Vice President, Heidi Hammel, and its Executive Director, Bill Nye, (along with the Society's friend, Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers).

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