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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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New website full of color versions of Opportunity rover's microscopic images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/24 04:47 CST

There is a fascinating new page on the Mars Exploration Rover Pancam science team's website, full of color versions of Opportunity's microscopic images. The Microscopic Imager is one of the tools on the end of the robotic arm, and serves as a hand lens for the robot geologist to explore the rocks and sands of Mars in great detail.

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The Solar System from the Inside Out - and the Outside In

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/18 02:27 CST

Space probes grant us perspective, the ability to see our place within the vastness of the solar system. But opportunities to see all of the solar system's planets in one observation are rare. In fact, there's only been one opportunity on one mission to see the whole solar system at once, until now.

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Conjunction season is over, and Opportunity is back to work

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/17 04:04 CST

It's always a relief when conjunction passes. Opportunity has gotten right back to work, sending down data acquired just before the moratorium, which spanned from January 27 to February 11.

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Happy Valentine's Day from Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/14 01:35 CST

I dug around and found something unique: this cool heart-shaped feature on Mars -- my Valentine to you all!

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Google Mars base maps available for Opportunity's future traverse

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/09 12:47 CST

Thanks to the work of several amateurs, Google Mars is a great tool for following the past and future peregrinations of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

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Mars conjunction today: Cool SOHO/SDO video

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/04 11:41 CST

Today Mars made its closest approach to the Sun -- as seen from Earth, that is. Why is this important?

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Dawn Journal: ORT ORT ORT

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/02/03 12:10 CST

Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.

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Butterfly crater on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/27 05:32 CST

I've spent the day noodling around in the current issue of Icarus, following up some of the more interesting stories within its table of contents, and came across a picture of this very cool crater -- actually, set of craters -- on Mars.

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Scientific clarification: "inverted topography" is more general than "esker-like features"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/14 10:50 CST

In the past couple of months I've received several emails from scientists offering clarifications, corrections, or alternative points of view to previous posts, which is awesome and something that I enthusiastically encourage. Here's one of them.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/12 10:32 CST

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011, about what to look forward to in solar system exploration this year.

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"A genuinely weird experience": A video of Steve Squyres explaining a photo of Steve Squyres

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/12 10:09 CST

In a lovely talk, in his uncommonly engaging way, Steve Squyres presents the portrait of him that now hangs in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

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Sunset and eclipse on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/05 11:38 CST

These two movies were posted to the JPL website a couple of weeks ago, and they are just amazing.

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Two views of Santa Maria, from orbit and from the ground

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/04 11:27 CST

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has just snapped another photo of Opportunity sitting on the ground on Mars. These pictures never get old.

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How Mars Express' orbit shifts with time

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/04 11:02 CST

While I was writing yesterday's blog entry on Mars Express' Phobos flybys I realized that I didn't understand Mars Express' orbit very well. So I sent an inquiry to the Mars Express blog, which they answered in a blog entry today.

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It's Phobos season again for Mars Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/03 01:43 CST

The Mars Express blog has been reactivated today, as a new series of Phobos flybys is already underway.

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Opportunity drives within 20 meters of Santa Maria, spots alligator's tail

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/15 02:40 CST

Today Opportunity has driven to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater, and the blocks around it are really, really cool-looking. This one is a dead ringer for the severed tail of an alligator.

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Opportunity: "So close we can taste it" to Santa Maria

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/14 01:18 CST

Opportunity is on a kilometers-long eastward road trip across Meridiani Planum toward the rim of a large ancient crater named Endeavour; it'll be many months yet before she gets there.

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Door 11 in the 2010 advent calendar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/11 02:35 CST

Time to open the eleventh door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system are these sinuous ridges?

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Opportunity bags a few craters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/10 04:46 CST

In the last few days, Opportunity's passed by several craters, and the rover drivers took advantage of the chance encounters for what they call "drive-by shooting" (a phrase I can't say I'm particularly fond of, but they didn't ask me).

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