May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/25 11:15 CDT
Curiosity has drilled into Mars for the 10th time at a site named Lubango, on sol 1320 (April 23, 2016). Lubango is in a bright-toned halo around a crack in the Stimson sandstone unit on the western edge of the Naukluft Plateau.
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.
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).
This month (actually, today), Cassini had a relatively close flyby of Titan, and New Horizons will observe a very distant Kuiper belt object named 1994 JR1. Akatsuki has just fine-tuned its orbit around Venus, and Hayabusa2 has begun an 800-hour ion engine thrusting phase to steer it toward near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.
As March Madness on Earth sent sports fans into their annual kinetic frenzy watching more than 60 American teams battle it out for college basketball’s grandest title, Opportunity was experiencing her own Martian brand of March Madness.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/04/01 09:21 CDT
One year after taking up its new residence in the solar system, Dawn is continuing to witness extraordinary sights on dwarf planet Ceres. Mission Director Marc Rayman brings us his monthly update on Dawn's status.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/22 06:32 CDT
Just days after receiving three new crew members, the ISS is about to become a veritable shipping hub, as three cargo ships launch to the orbital laboratory in as little as three weeks.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are safely on their way to Mars! The two lifted off at 9:31 UTC today, March 14, 2016. Orbiter and lander will arrive at Mars on October 19 at approximately 16:00 UTC. The lander is expected to last about 3 days. The orbiter will spend a year aerobraking before beginning its science mission.
ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are in the final preparations for a launch as early as Monday, toward an October 2016 Mars orbit insertion and landing in Meridiani planum. Launch on a Proton rocket is expected at 09:31:42 UT Monday, March 14. A Breeze-M upper stage will send the spacecraft on to Mars, with separation at 20:13 UT.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/09 03:41 CST
NASA has decided to move forward with the InSight mission after its delay last December, setting a new launch date of May 5, 2018. That will put the landing on Mars on November 26, 2018. In order to launch in two years, one of its two science instruments must be redesigned.
SpaceX overcame high propellant temperatures, a boat too close to the launch pad, and pesky weather to launch a communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit this evening.
As the Martian winter slowly begins to recede, Opportunity is working away on the steep slopes of Knudsen Ridge at the southern end of Marathon Valley, showing her mettle in some of the most challenging terrain of the rover’s 12+ years on the Red Planet.
MENCA (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser) is a quadrupole mass spectrometer onboard India's Mars Orbiter Mission, MOM. A report on measurements of neutral species accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters is the first peer-reviewed scientific result from the mission.
More than eight years after leaving Earth behind for an ambitious deep space adventure, the Dawn mission has now collected all of the data originally planned. Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman brings us an update.
Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.