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Photos: India's Mars Orbiter Mission arrives at launch site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/05 02:39 CDT | 1 comment

ISRO posted five photos from the momentous day of the Mars Orbiter Mission's shipment to Sriharikota.

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NASA's MAVEN Mission Spared from Shutdown
Launch preparations will resume

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/03 04:40 CDT | 7 comments

Launch preparations will resume for NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch to Mars on November 18th. Work had previously been suspended, potentially causing the spacecraft to miss its once-every-26-month launch opportunity.

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Yes, there seems to be a hole in Curiosity's left front wheel, and no, that's not a problem

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/02 11:22 CDT | 27 comments

Some brand-new images just arrived from Curiosity on Mars, and two of the most recent are Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) images of the wheels. Today's images contained two little surprises.

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LADEE has finally left Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/02 02:39 CDT | 2 comments

When LADEE launched on September 6, it launched into Earth orbit. Today, it is finally on a path that will take it to its October 6 lunar orbit insertion. Its operation is continuing normally in the face of the U.S. government's shutdown yesterday, as is that of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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On Gandhi's birthday, India ships Mars spacecraft to launch site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/02 11:45 CDT

Several Indian news sites posted a press wire article this morning indicating that India's Mars Orbiter Mission departed its assembly and testing facility in Bangalore today and is now on the way to the coastal launch site, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, a journey of about 400 kilometers.

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American government shut down, but JPL and APL planetary missions still operating -- for now

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/01 11:31 CDT | 6 comments

I spoke with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Veronica McGregor and the Applied Physics Laboratory's Geoff Brown this morning to get accurate information about the operation of NASA planetary missions. In brief: All of NASA's missions that are operated out of JPL and APL are continuing to operate normally today and for at least a week.

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[Updated] A Government Shutdown Could Delay MAVEN's Launch to Mars

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/30 05:17 CDT | 2 comments

NASA confirmed that a government shutdown could affect pre-launch processing of the MAVEN spacecraft, currently scheduled to launch to Mars on November 18th.

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Dawn Journal: Sixth anniversary of leaving Earth

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/09/28 06:29 CDT | 2 comments

On the sixth anniversary of leaving Earth to embark on a daring deep-space expedition, Dawn is very, very far from its erstwhile planetary residence. Now humankind's only permanent resident of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the seasoned explorer is making good progress toward the largest object in that part of the solar system, the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres.

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Europe Will Select Its Next Major Science Mission in November

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/09/25 01:22 CDT | 2 comments

The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.

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Dawn on Mars: Waypoint 1 Mysteries

Posted by Dawn Sumner on 2013/09/24 06:38 CDT

Dawn Sumner describes the preparations for maximizing the science at Curiosity's short stop at "Waypoint 1" from sols 385 to 401.

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Photos and Video of India's Mars Orbiter Mission, proceeding toward October 28 launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/23 01:33 CDT | 1 comment

Indian media reported over the weekend that the Mars Orbiter Mission has passed some senior review, and has been approved to proceed toward a launch date of October 28, a week later than previously planned.

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The Deep Impact Mission is officially over

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/20 11:10 CDT | 1 comment

Efforts to regain contact with Deep Impact have been ended. The last contact with the spacecraft was on August 8, 2013.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3431 - September 18, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/09/18 11:27 CDT | 2 comments

On sol 3425 Opportunity "waded ashore" at Solander Point after crossing a sea of sand between here and Cape York. Cape York was an "island" remnant of the rim of Endeavour crater that Opportunity left back in May. Since then it has been driving south to the next largest and mountainous remnant of the crater rim, Solander Point.

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ICE is returning to Earth; but do we have the will to regain control?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/18 05:37 CDT | 8 comments

After a journey of more than 30 years, ICE is coming back to Earth next year. But do we know how to regain control of it, and can we find the means to do so?

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LADEE checkout phase successfully completed!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/13 07:25 CDT

Some good news to start your weekend: the newest member of our deep-space fleet, LADEE, has successfully completed its checkout phase and is now officially in its cruise phase. It is still in Earth orbit, headed for Lunar Orbit Insertion on Sunday, October 6.

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Taking a close look at MAVEN assembly and testing videos

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/11 06:33 CDT | 1 comment

I noticed something funny while examining MAVEN assembly and testing videos.

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Still no contact with Deep Impact

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/10 06:59 CDT | 4 comments

Oh, that dreaded phrase, "mission status report." It sounds so neutral, but it almost always means bad news. In this case, it's really bad: Deep Impact is not communicating with Earth.

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Go LADEE!
Planetary Radio Live Launch Special

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/10 10:41 CDT

Listen to or watch the recording of our live celebration for LADEE as the spacecraft blasted off for the moon.

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Watch LADEE Launch to the Moon with The Planetary Society
Live Webcast Begins HERE at 7:30pm PDT / 10:30pm EDT

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/06 08:45 CDT

Starting at 7:30pm PDT/10:30pm EDT, we will webcast a special event around the launch of NASA's next lunar spacecraft. Watch our special coverage with lunar scientists and live video from the launch site, as well as NASA TV footage of the launch itself.

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LADEE prelaunch facts

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/05 07:20 CDT | 1 comment

I glean all the important facts about NASA's next Moon mission from their prelaunch press kit. Launch is scheduled for September 6, 2013 at 8:27 p.m. PDT (September 7 at 03:27 UTC).

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