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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

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 | 4 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 | 27 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 | 8 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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Expedition 44 Trio Flies through Solar Panel Glitch, Arrives at Station

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/22 04:22 CDT

A three-person crew is safely aboard the International Space Station following an early morning launch of a Soyuz rocket and spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Broken Bottle Strut Likely Doomed Falcon 9 Rocket, Says Elon Musk

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/20 05:05 CDT | 3 comments

The demise of an ISS-bound Falcon 9 rocket last month was likely caused by a broken liquid helium bottle strut, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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OSIRIS-REx – Testing In Progress

Posted by Annie Wargetz on 2015/07/17 03:12 CDT

While the OLA, OCAMS, and REXIS instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continue working towards their deliveries, other hardware onsite at Lockheed is undergoing testing prior to installation. The hardware is put through tests here on Earth prior to launching into space.

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Report Finds SLS Cost and Schedule Estimates Tight, but on Track

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/17 08:22 CDT | 7 comments

The GAO says NASA is generally doing a good job with cost and schedule estimates for SLS, its new heavy lift rocket. But NASA is also running short on schedule margin as it works to have SLS ready for flight by November 2018.

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New Horizons "phones home" after Pluto flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 09:39 CDT | 7 comments

After a wait of more than 22 hours with no communication, New Horizons "phoned home" precisely on schedule after its flyby of Pluto. The signal was received at 00:52:37 UT | 20:52:37 ET | 17:52:37 PT. As planned, New Horizons returned no images with the Phone Home downlink. But every bit of telemetry indicated that the flyby executed successfully.

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Three mission updates: Trouble for Dawn at Ceres; A new plan for Juno; OSIRIS-REx coming together

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/09 04:25 CDT | 6 comments

With all the focus on Pluto it's hard to keep up with all the other space missions currently exploring other planets. Here are brief updates on three of them.

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New Horizons "back in action" after safe mode event, ready to resume encounter science

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/06 04:12 CDT | 10 comments

NASA held a press briefing today to explain the nature and cause of the spacecraft anomaly that halted science on New Horizons for four days as it was on its terminal approach to Pluto. As of the moment that I write this post, New Horizons is not yet performing science observations, but it will resume them tomorrow, July 7.

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New Horizons enters safe mode 10 days before Pluto flyby [UPDATED]

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/05 10:25 CDT | 18 comments

New Horizons decided to put on a little 4th of July drama for the mission's fans. It's currently in safe mode, and it will likely be a day or two before it recovers and returns to science, but it remains on course for the July 14 flyby. Here's the mission update in its entirety.
[UPDATE]: Normal operations are planned to resume July 7.

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Pluto's progression: Third-to-last Pluto day before encounter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/03 08:49 CDT | 6 comments

Only two days remain until New Horizons' historic encounter with Pluto....two Pluto days, that is. Pluto and Charon rotate together once every 6.4 days, so as New Horizons has approached the pair over the last week, we've been treated to one stately progression of all of their longitudes.

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