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ICE/ISEE-3 to return to an Earth no longer capable of speaking to it

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/07 10:47 CST | 44 comments

It's with great sadness that I report that the Goddard Space Flight Center team has determined that we will not be able to regain control of the venerable spacecraft ICE/ISEE-3 when it passes by Earth this year, after a 30-year journey around the Sun.

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Curiosity update, sols 521-533: Assessing Dingo Gap

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2014/02/04 05:08 CST | 3 comments

While continuing to perform regular wheel health assessments, Curiosity took a sharp right turn and headed for Dingo Gap. On sol 533, they performed a "toe dip" that parked the rover atop the dune with a good view down into the valley.

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ExoMars baby pictures: Spacecraft core module delivered to assembly site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/04 03:03 CST | 3 comments

The European Space Agency announced yesterday a significant milestone in the development of the next Mars mission: the core module of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has been delivered.

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An extended mission for LADEE

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/03 09:39 CST | 2 comments

The LADEE team has managed their fuel frugally enough to permit a one-month mission extension; they now plan to impact the Moon on or around April 21, 2014.

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Dawn Journal: Onward to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/02/01 10:58 CST | 4 comments

The majority of Dawn's time in the Ceres approach phase will be devoted to continuing ion-powered flight. Let’s take another look at how this remarkable technology is used to deliver the adventurer to the desired orbit around Ceres.

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Conspiracy Theorist Sues NASA, Wastes Everybody's Time
The "jelly doughnut" rock found next to Opportunity is the focus of a new lawsuit

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/31 01:30 CST | 16 comments

The "jelly doughnut" rock found next to Opportunity is the focus of a new lawsuit alleging that NASA is not properly looking for life.

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I'm on All Things Considered today, talking about poor Yutu

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/28 05:06 CST | 7 comments

As a lifetime listener of National Public Radio, it's beyond strange to hear my voice on All Things Considered! I wish it were for a happier reason, but I was invited on by Geoff Brumfiel to talk about the fate of poor Yutu.

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Bad news for Yutu rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/25 05:33 CST | 8 comments

The Sun has set for a second time at Chang'e 3's landing site on the Moon. The lander is operating normally and shut down to sleep as expected, but the rover is not responding properly to Earth command so could not prepare properly for the oncoming lunar night, and likely will not survive it.

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New Horizons: Updates From the January 2014 Science Team Meeting, Part 2

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/01/24 01:16 CST | 3 comments

Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting. Updates include the status of the Kuiper Belt target search and the use of ALMA to refine Pluto's ephemeris.

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New Horizons: Updates From the Science Team Meeting, Part 1

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/01/23 06:15 CST | 1 comments

Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting.

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Curiosity update, sols 488-520: Steady driving while watching the wheels

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2014/01/22 03:38 CST | 1 comments

In the last month, Curiosity put 222 meters on the odometer in 12 short drives, while regularly assessing the wheels for damage. The rover performed touch-and-go analyses of rocks including Oneida and Kodak, and also took some ChemCam RMI mosaics of rocks near the base of Mount Sharp.

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New version of panoramic view from Chang'e 3

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/21 05:02 CST

A higher-resolution version of the Chang'e 3 lander's panoramic view of the lunar surface has appeared on the Web, and artist Don Davis has cleaned it of artifacts to make a beautiful, seamless view. In other news, the mission has been reorganized to accommodate a possibly year-long adventure on the lunar surface.

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Rosetta update from mission control

Posted by Daniel Scuka on 2014/01/21 01:37 CST | 3 comments

We spoke with (a slightly tired but hugely happy) Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo earlier this afternoon and he reports the spacecraft is doing fine!

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Rosetta is awake!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/20 02:33 CST | 5 comments

It was a tense half an hour for Rosetta fans all over the world as we waited for a spike in a graph to inform us that Rosetta had awoken from a 31-month slumber to phone home.

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Updates on Chang'e 3: Rover and lander both awake, good science data received

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/14 05:01 CST | 8 comments

According to news reports from China, the Yutu rover woke up from its two-week nap at 5:09 Beijing time on January 11 (21:09 on January 10, UTC), successfully establishing communication with Earth. The lander woke up autonomously at 8:21 Beijing time / 00:21 UTC on January 12, and is also "in normal condition." UPDATED to note that the lander's camera apparently did not survive lunar night.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Nears 10-Year Milestone, Oppy Roves On, We Look Back on 2013
Sols 3503–3533

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/01/07 02:00 CST

Opportunity wrapped a landmark year in December, sending home more evidence of ancient habitable environments at Endeavour Crater as the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission geared up to celebrate an historic milestone – the completion of 10 years of surface operations on the Red Planet.

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Planetary Radio: NEOWISE PI Amy Mainzer
NEOWISE has reawakened to discover more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/01/01 12:56 CST | 1 comments

NEOWISE has reawakened to discover many more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up on these discoveries.

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Dawn Journal: Planning for the Ceres Approach Phase

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/01/01 10:43 CST | 4 comments

Now more than halfway through its journey from protoplanet Vesta to dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to use its advanced ion propulsion system to reshape its orbit around the sun. Now that the ship is closer to the uncharted shores ahead than the lands it unveiled astern, we will begin looking at the plans for exploring another alien world.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa 2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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Chang'e 3 update with lots of pictures: Yutu begins lunar journey

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/23 02:54 CST | 9 comments

There was a lot of action on Chang'e 3 over the weekend! I have lots of pictures to share, including the highest-quality one I've seen of the rover on the surface, plus video of the rover making tracks on the Moon and a 3D view of the lander.

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