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Blog Archive


Mars Orbiter Mission update: A year at Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/06 06:16 CDT | 2 comments

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of rumor that ISRO was ready to announce some results from its Mars Orbiter Mission's methane sensor. The Indian space agency held a press event for the one-year-in-orbit anniversary of Mars Orbiter Mission and released a book containing mission photos, but did not unveil any new scientific results.

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Hayabusa2's target asteroid has a name!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/05 12:19 CDT | 2 comments

JAXA announced today the results of the naming contest for Hayabusa2. The target of the sample-return mission, formerly known as 1999 JU3 and still numbered 162173, is now named 162173 Ryugu.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Rocks on Ancient Water During Walkabout

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/10/02 10:45 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity continued her walkabout around Marathon Valley in September and sent home more evidence of significant water alteration and, perhaps, an ancient environment inviting enough for the emergence of life.

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Cargo Craft Completes Six-Hour Schlep to ISS

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/01 05:59 CDT

A Russian cargo craft laden with more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies arrived at the International Space Station today.

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NASA announces five Discovery proposals selected for further study

Posted by Casey DreierEmily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/30 03:39 CDT | 20 comments

NASA announced the first-round selections for its next Discovery mission today. A total of five planetary mission concepts -- three targeted at asteroids, two at Venus -- will move to the next stage of the competition.

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Dawn Journal: 8 Years in Space

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/09/28 07:49 CDT | 16 comments

On the 8th anniversary of the launch of the Dawn spacecraft, Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives his annual summary of Dawn’s progress on its interplanetary travels.

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Curiosity update, sols 1073-1107: Driving toward dunes, distracted by haloes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/18 07:40 CDT | 1 comments

Since I last checked in with Curiosity, the rover has been steadily driving southward, heading directly toward the Bagnold dune field. They are looking for a place to drill into the Stimson sandstone unit, but have been distracted by intriguing pale haloes around frock fractures. Despite a rough road, the wheels are not showing significant increase in damage.

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Orion Enters Fabrication Phase, but Possible Launch Slip Looms

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/16 03:03 CDT

NASA's Orion spacecraft has officially moved from preliminary design to fabrication, but the agency says the first crewed flight of the vehicle could slip two years, from 2021 to 2023.

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Swapped Soyuz Set for Friday Return

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/11 04:01 CDT

Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov are set to return to Earth Friday after the station's one-year crew received a fresh Soyuz spacecraft.

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Chang'e 5 test vehicle maps future sample return site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/03 12:13 CDT | 3 comments

This summer the Chinese space agency has been making progress toward its planned 2017 launch of the Chang'e 5 robotic sample return mission, performing low-altitude imaging of the future landing site.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Digs Marathon Valley Walkabout
Sols 4096 - 4125

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/09/03 08:04 CDT

Opportunity drove farther into Marathon Valley in August, dug into what appears to be a water-altered rock, and took a lot of picture postcards in what is turning out to be a distinctively different site from any that the mission has found since the robot field geologist landed in 2004.

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New Horizons extended mission target selected

Posted by Emily LakdawallaCasey Dreier on 2015/09/01 06:09 CDT | 5 comments

The New Horizons mission has formally selected its next target after Pluto: a tiny, dim, frozen world currently named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will perform a series of four rocket firings in October and November to angle its trajectory to pass close by 2014 MU69 in early January 2019. In so doing, New Horizons will become the first flyby craft to pass by a target that was not discovered before the spacecraft launched.

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Populating the OSIRIS-REx Science Deck

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/09/01 02:34 CDT | 1 comments

The assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues, with many elements integrated onto the spacecraft ahead of schedule. Last month both OTES and OVIRS were delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the science deck.

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Dawn Journal: Mapping Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/08/22 01:05 CDT | 47 comments

More than two centuries after its discovery, Ceres is being mapped in great detail by the Dawn spacecraft. Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update on Dawn's progress.

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Curiosity update, sols 1012-1072: Sciencing back and forth below Marias Pass

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/14 07:14 CDT

Since my last update, Curiosity has driven back and forth repeatedly across a section of rocks below Marias pass. The rover finally drilled at a spot named Buckskin on sol 1060, marking the drill's return to operations after suffering a short on sol 911. Now the rover is driving up into Marias Pass and onto the Washboard or Stimson unit.

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What's up in solar system exploration: August 2015 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/10 07:31 CDT | 5 comments

I'm back from two weeks' vacation, so it's time to catch up on the status of all our intrepid planetary missions, from Akatsuki to the Voyagers and hitting the Moon, Mars, asteroids, comets, and Saturn in between.

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Space Station Update: Launch Logistics

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/07 04:13 CDT | 2 comments

Orbital ATK says they are making progress returning Antares to flight, NASA buys more Soyuz seats and the ISS program manager moves on to private industry.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Enters Marathon Valley, Begins Walkabout
Sols 4065 - 4095

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/08/03 05:20 CDT | 10 comments

Nearly seven Earth years after Opportunity set its sites on Endeavour Crater, the rover cruised into Marathon Valley, the once-but-a-dream destination.

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Dawn Journal: Descent to HAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/07/30 09:45 CDT | 26 comments

With a wonderfully rich bounty of pictures and other observations already secured, Dawn is now on its way to an even better vantage point around dwarf planet Ceres.

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Field Report from Mars: Sol 4060 - June 26, 2015

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2015/07/29 01:04 CDT

Larry Crumpler gives an update on the Opportunity rover's activities in Spirit of St. Louis crater.

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