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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Turns On, Tunes In, and Drops Panoramic Postcard to Earth

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2012/02/29 10:24 CST

There's no hail or snow or sleet, though it is the depth of winter at Meridiani Planum and a cold unimaginable to us has gripped the landscape.

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Dawn Journal: Bonus time at low altitude

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/02/29 02:43 CST

Dawn is continuing its exploits at Vesta, performing detailed studies of the colossal asteroid from its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO).

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BepiColombo's launch date has slipped to August 2015

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/29 08:55 CST

ESA announced this morning that the launch of their BepiColombo mission, a cooperative effort with JAXA, has been delayed from its originally planned July 2014 to the backup launch window in August 2015.

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Phobos-Grunt Failure Report Released

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2012/02/06 05:24 CST

It appears that Phobos-Grunt was doomed before it launched on November 9, 2011. Cheap parts, design shortcomings, and lack of pre-flight testing ensured that the spacecraft would never fulfill its goals.

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Yay for Juno! First major course correction complete

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/02 03:33 CST

JPL issued a news note today that the Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft has successfully completed the first of twelve trajectory correction maneuvers it'll perform between launch last year and Jupiter arrival in 2016. Its next maneuver will take place in August of this year. Go Juno!

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What's up in the solar system in February 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/31 01:12 CST | 1 comments

What's up in the solar system in February 2012

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Celebrates 8, Keeps on Rockin' into Year 9

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2012/01/31 10:24 CST

As Opportunity worked away on its winter science campaign, the Mars Exploration Rover mission quietly completed its eighth Earth year of exploring the surface of the Red Planet last week, and is now roving on into Year 9 of its 90-day mission.

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Dawn Journal: How does Dawn know where "down" is?

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/01/30 01:23 CST

Dawn Journal: How does Dawn know where "down" is?

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Dusty girl

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/23 05:32 CST

Today Opportunity sent back to Earth the last few frames of the "deck pan" self-portrait she took during the waning days of 2011. Her solar panels are very dusty, which isn't helpful. It's near winter solstice in her southern location on Mars, so the angled Sun is not providing as much power as it would in a different season.

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Reflections on Phobos LIFE

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/01/13 10:35 CST

We explore space for the noblest goals of science and exploration, and we often persevere in spite of challenges. But space exploration is fraught with bad things happening, or, to use the technical term, ouchies. The Planetary Society's Phobos LIFE biomodule will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the next few days with the rest of the Phobos-Grunt mission.

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The state of Earth observation, January 2012

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/01/09 05:54 CST

As of November 2011, the Earth Observing Handbook counts 109 active missions to study the Earth as a planet, with 112 more approved and planned for the future. Jason Davis provides an overview of key current and upcoming earth-observing missions.

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Dawn Journal: The Om of orbit adjustment

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/01/09 03:53 CST

The Dawn mission's Project System Engineer Marc Rayman reports that Dawn concluded 2011 more than 40 thousand times nearer to Vesta than it began the year. It is now at its lowest altitude of the mission, conducting a detailed exploration of the protoplanet and continuing to make new discoveries.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update:Opportunity Climbs to Greeley Haven for Winter, and We Look Back at 2011

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/12/31 10:24 CST

As New Year's Eve moved from time zone to time zone across planet Earth, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team looked to 2012 and wrapping its eighth Earth year of exploring, while up on the Red Planet Opportunity settled into the "saddle" at Greeley Haven preparing for the onslaught of its fifth Martian winter.

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What's up in the solar system in January 2012, and the rest of the year

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/29 05:57 CST

There will be no planetary launches in 2012, but there is still plenty of deep-space activity to look forward to over the coming year.

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Ringing in the New Year with two new arrivals to the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/28 05:21 CST

The twin GRAIL spacecraft are nearly at the end of their three-month cruises to the Moon. Currently being discussed is an extended mission for GRAIL that would begin after the June eclipse and last through most of December 2012.

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Phobos-Grunt: all but over, a letter from IKI

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/09 07:14 CST

A letter sent by Lev Zelenyi, director of the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI) to participants in the Phobos-Soil project about the mission's failure.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Special Update: Opportunity Finds Best Evidence Yet for Liquid Water in Gypsum at Homestake

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/12/07 10:24 CST

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has discovered gypsum and its "single most powerful piece of evidence for liquid water on Mars."

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From the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU): Voyager 1 at the edge of the solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/05 04:13 CST

A report on a press briefing about Voyager 1 at the Fall 2011 American Geophyisical Union meeting. The spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space, which scientists are calling the stagnation region.

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ESA is ending ground station support for Phobos-Grunt

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/02 12:04 CST

After modifying two antennas and attempting to send commands to Phobos-Grunt for weeks without success, ESA has made the decision to stop tracking support.

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Dawn Journal: Riding gravitational currents to LAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/12/01 04:05 CST

In this update on the Dawn mission, project system engineer Marc Rayman reports that the probe is headed for its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO), where it will focus on making a census of the atomic constituents and on mapping the gravity field in order to determine Vesta's interior structure.

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