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Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/10 12:21 CST

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

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SLS CubeSats to Set Sail for Deep Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/10 11:28 CST

When SLS launches Orion to the moon in 2018, a fleet of deep space CubeSats will come along for the ride, including a solar sailing spacecraft similar to LightSail.

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HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 3.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/05 12:53 CST | 1 comments

There have been tons and tons of HiRISE images of the Curiosity landing region, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to find, locate, and catalogue them. This post is a summary of what I've found; after five revisions and updates, it's now version 3.0 of the list.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Turns 12! Embarks on Electric Slide
Sols 4244–4274

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/02/04 07:12 CST | 1 comments

On January 24th, the veteran Mars Exploration Rover (MER) wrapped the last day of her 12th year of surface operations on Mars, marking an extraordinary, historic achievement for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission.

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Dawn Journal: Measuring Light

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/02/01 01:20 CST | 6 comments

Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman explains some of the measurements the Dawn mission is taking at Ceres, most of which depend on sunlight.

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What's up in solar system exploration: February 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/29 11:57 CST | 2 comments

What's going on with our robotic planetary missions? In February I count more than 20 planetary spacecraft exploring six targets beyond Earth or cruising to new destinations.

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NASA Stays on Course for Asteroid Redirect Target

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/28 05:55 CST | 1 comments

NASA still plans to pluck a boulder off the surface of asteroid 2008 EV5, return it to lunar orbit and send a crew of astronauts for a visit in about ten years.

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China invites public on-board its robotic missions; and how to download Chang'e data

Posted by Quanzhi Ye on 2016/01/25 10:50 CST

China plans a busy future in robotic space exploration. Besides the scientific merit, what interests me most about the upcoming Chang'e 4 mission is their intention to get the public involved.

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How REXIS Made It on OSIRIS-REx

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2016/01/23 11:41 CST

The OSIRIS-REx instrument team has successfully installed the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) on the spacecraft. However, there is more to the story of how REXIS made it onto the spacecraft.

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SpaceX Successfully Launches Ocean Satellite but Breaks a Leg on Drone Ship

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/17 04:40 CST

The Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite reached orbit today, but SpaceX's third attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship came up short.

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Updates on China's lunar missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/14 03:39 CST | 2 comments

It's official: China plans to send a lander mission to the lunar farside. A relay satellite will launch to the Earth-Moon L2 point in June of 2018, and a lander will follow at the end of 2018. The landing site may be within the south pole-Aitken basin.

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Two Astronauts to Make Friday Trek to Edge of Space Station

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/13 01:32 CST

This Friday, astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake will perform a spacewalk to replace a failed power regulator on one of the outermost sections of the International Space Station.

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SpaceX Set for Sunday Sea Satellite Launch, Booster Recovery Attempt

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/12 12:42 CST | 2 comments

SpaceX is set to launch a sea level-monitoring satellite from the California coast this Sunday, while attempting to land the rocket's spent first stage on a floating drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Finishes Another Record Year, Approaches 12th Anniversary
Sols 4214–4244

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/01/08 11:04 CST | 2 comments

Perched on the southern wall of Marathon Valley at Endeavour Crater, Opportunity braved temperatures descending well below -100° F in December to work the winter science campaign and home in on the remnants of ancient clays.

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Curiosity update, sols 1166-1217: First reconnaissance of Bagnold dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/07 08:09 CST | 4 comments

In the six weeks since my last detailed Curiosity update, the rover has driven to, on, and around a couple of active barchan sand dunes on Mars. They are now searching for a site to scoop and sample sand on the western edge of Namib dune.

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Dawn Journal: Science on Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/01/01 07:02 CST | 15 comments

The Dawn mission is developing humankind’s most intimate portrait ever of a dwarf planet. Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman returns with his monthly update on the mission's progress.

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Planetary Exploration Timelines: A Look Ahead to 2016

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/31 04:04 CST | 19 comments

How many planetary exploration missions are there, and where are they? These days, it's hard to keep track, because there are so many. I plan to begin the new year by taking stock of active missions, figuring out what each has set out to do and accomplished so far, but first I want to step back to consider the spread of missions across the solar system as a whole.

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Preview: 2016 aboard the International Space Station

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/30 01:13 CST | 1 comments

A look ahead to see what's in store for the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard humanity's orbital outpost.

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ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander travel safely to Baikonur

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/28 03:14 CST | 3 comments

Europe's second mission to Mars has begun its journey from its birthplace in Cannes to its planned arrival at Mars on October 19. Since December 17 we've been able to watch every step of its journey via Twitter.

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InSight's Problems: Possible Impacts

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/12/23 08:57 CST | 4 comments

Van Kane details the potential repercussions of the launch delay of InSight Mars lander on the rest of NASA's Discovery mission program.

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