Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/19 11:21 CDT
When Mariner 10 flew past Mercury, it caught an immense impact basin lying half in and half out of sunlight, which they named Caloris. Even with only half the basin visible, scientists knew it was one of the largest in the solar system. Geologists had to wait more than 25 years to see the rest of Caloris, and when they did it turned out to be even bigger than they had thought. But the fact that Caloris was only half in sunlight was fortuitous in one sense, because it meant that the spot on Mercury that was exactly opposite the area of the Caloris impact was also partially in sunlight. That spot looks weird.
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 Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/30 04:31 CDT
Today the MESSENGER mission held a press briefing to show off some of the first images and other data that are streaming in from the spacecraft, now that it has entered Mercury orbit.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/29 04:03 CDT
This is MESSENGER's very first photo from Mercury orbit, a wide-angle view that reaches right to Mercury's south pole, exposing a very tiny sliver of territory not previously seen by spacecraft.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/28 03:59 CDT
Today's Planetary Radio features Sean Solomon on the successful arrival of MESSENGER at Mercury. After checking that out, wander over to the 190th Carnival of Space, hosted this week by Paul Gilster over at Centauri Dreams.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/17 02:11 CDT
The day is finally here! In only five and a half hours, at 00:45 on March 18 (according to the spacecraft's clock), MESSENGER must ignite its main engine and run though a third of its fuel in only 15 minutes in order to enter its planned orbit around Mercury.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/14 02:07 CDT
As the disaster of the magnitude 8.9 Sendai quake of Friday, March 11, at 05:46:23 UTC continues to unfold in Japan, I have been unable to tear my attention away.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/14 11:18 CDT
I've got another 365 Days of Astronomy podcast airing today, this one an overview of the MESSENGER mission with particular attention to what's been learned in the three Mercury flybys, and what's going to happen when it enters orbit only a little more than three days from now!
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 2011/01/12 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.