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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.