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Curiosity update, sols 671-696: Out of the landing ellipse, into ripples and pointy rocks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/24 05:55 CDT | 6 comments

For the last four weeks, the name of the game for Curiosity has been driving. But these weeks of driving have been more challenging than they used to be.

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Chang'e 3 update: Both rover and lander still alive at the end of their eighth lunar day

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/21 07:26 CDT | 5 comments

Despite the fact that it hasn't moved for 6 months, the plucky Yutu rover on the Moon is still alive. Its signal is periodically detected by amateur radio astronomers, most recently on July 19. A story posted today by the Chinese state news agency offers a new hypothesis to explain the failure of the rover's mobility systems.

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New Horizons to take new photos of Pluto and Charon, beginning optical navigation campaign

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/18 05:06 CDT | 5 comments

Technically, Pluto science observations don't begin for New Horizons until 2015, but the spacecraft will take a series of photos of Pluto and Charon from July 20 to 27 as it begins the first of four optical navigation campaigns.

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Quick Rosetta update: Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a contact binary!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/15 08:42 CDT | 17 comments

I could not wait to post these amazing new images of comet Churymov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta. The nucleus of the comet is clearly a contact binary -- two smaller (and unequally sized object) in close contact.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Nears End of Murray Ridge, Pillinger Point Christened
Sols 3680-3709

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/07/03 03:44 CDT | 6 comments

Opportunity got off to a bumpy start in June, but the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission pressed on, continuing the exploration of Murray Ridge at the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

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Rosetta’s comet is starting to take shape

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/07/03 12:55 CDT

A new animation of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko captured by the Rosetta spacecraft shows the comet rotating.

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Dawn Journal: HAMO at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/07/01 11:34 CDT | 9 comments

Dawn's chief engineer and mission director Marc Rayman gives an overview of the plan for the penultimate orbital phase at Ceres, the “high altitude mapping orbit” (HAMO).

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3705 – June 27, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/06/30 07:30 CDT

Opportunity has left the winter haven and is still driving south along the rim of Endeavour crater, currently exploring an outcrop a few meters from crater rim.

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Curiosity update: One Mars Year! Sols 662-670

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/25 03:34 CDT | 2 comments

On Monday JPL put out a press release marking one year since Curiosity landed -- one Mars year, that is! There was a new version of the Kimberley self-portrait, and a video update on wheel wear testing. While we've been celebrating on Earth, Curiosity has been driving, driving, driving, on a new "safe transit route" taking her southward toward the black sand dunes ringing Mount Sharp.

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Skimming the inner planets: Updates on MESSENGER and Venus Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/24 11:52 CDT | 1 comment

The two spacecraft currently orbiting the two innermost planets are both flying low in their orbits in the final phases of their missions. MESSENGER just performed a rocket burn to raise its orbit slightly, while Venus Express did the opposite.

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NASA selects Planetary Society LIFE Proposal
To study flight of LIFE experiment on ARM (Asteroid Redirect Mission)

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/06/19 06:10 CDT | 5 comments

NASA has selected a Planetary Society proposal to study accommodation of the Society’s LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment) biomodule on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).

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Rosetta completes another rocket burn, spies decreasing activity on comet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/19 10:42 CDT

Rosetta has now completed its three largest rendezvous burns as it approaches ever closer to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Beginning on July 2, Rosetta will now conduct weekly burns, through August 6. Meanwhile, the cometary activity of April and May has quieted again, leaving the comet looking smaller than it did before.

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Curiosity update, sols 645-661: Driving, driving, driving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/16 04:44 CDT

Curiosity has been busy. The rover has traveled more than half a kilometer since my last update, making steady progress beyond the Kimberley toward Murray Buttes. There hasn't been much time for science, but they sneaked in an observation of a Mercury transit across the sun, and a neat MARDI video of the rover driving.

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The OSIRIS-REx Design Reference Mission

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/12 06:18 CDT

This week the OSIRIS-REx team gathered at the Lockheed Martin facility in Denver to perform a “Design Reference Mission (DRM)” walkthrough. The DRM is basically the battle plan for OSIRIS-REx for accomplishing our goal of returning pristine samples from asteroid Bennu.

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Mars-bound mission updates: Mars Orbiter Mission maneuvers, MAVEN detects Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/11 10:59 CDT | 10 comments

India's Mars Orbiter Mission has accomplished its second trajectory correction manuever, a small rocket burn lasting only 16 seconds. Meanwhile, NASA's MAVEN is testing out its instruments, with one obtaining "first light" on Mars.

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Rosetta update: Both "big burns" completed successfully

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/10 10:16 CDT | 7 comments

Rosetta is now in the final phase of its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a decade-long journey. The two largest burns have now succeeded, and Rosetta reported this morning via Twitter that the second burn was close to perfect.

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A Checkup on Future Mars Missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/09 04:59 CDT | 3 comments

NASA’s Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG) recently reviewed plans by Europe, the Japanese, and NASA for future Mars exploration. The prognosis is for another exciting decade of Mars exploration.

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After decades of silence, a vintage spacecraft says hello to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/06 05:16 CDT

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project has established two-way communication with a 36-year-old spacecraft, but more challenges lie ahead.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Hunts Ancient Clays along Murray Ridge
Sols 3650-3680

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/06/05 10:11 CDT

At the western rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity spent the month of May exploring a new clayground along Murray Ridge and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission trundled into the 125th month of what was originally to be a short, 3-month tour.

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The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun!

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/05 09:54 CDT

The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun! Seeing the core structure being assembled demonstrated that OSIRIS-REx is no longer just a set of drawings and PowerPoint charts, it is starting to become a real spacecraft.

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