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Orion Returns to Earth after Successful Test Flight

Jason Davis • December 05, 2014

NASA’s Orion spacecraft returned safely to Earth this morning after what looked like a flawless four hour, 24-minute test flight.

In Pictures: Orion's Scrub, from the Vehicle Assembly Building

Jason Davis • December 04, 2014

Here are some scenes from launch day, shot from the unique perspective of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Orion Scrub Report: Sticky Hydrogen Valves

Jason Davis • December 04, 2014

Windy weather and stuck liquid hydrogen valves forced a one-day delay of the maiden voyage of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

The New Horizons science mission to the Pluto-Charon system is about to begin

Emily Lakdawalla • December 03, 2014

It's been a long journey, but it's nearly over: New Horizons is just about ready to begin its science mission to Pluto, Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. I'll remind you of New Horizons' capabilities and simulate how Pluto will appear in optical navigation images.

Orion L-1 Report: Go for Launch

Jason Davis • December 03, 2014

The stage is set for NASA’s Orion spacecraft to launch on a two-orbit, four-hour shakedown cruise tomorrow morning. Patrick Air Force Base’s 45th Weather Squadron changed their forecast of an on-time launch to 70 percent—up from the 40 percent chances that marked the start of the week.

Hayabusa2 launches toward asteroid rendezvous

Emily Lakdawalla • December 03, 2014

Hayabusa2 successfully launched on December 3, 2014 at 04:22 UTC, and embarked on its interplanetary journey about two hours later. During the launch, cameras captured video of the spacecraft fairing separation.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Roves from Wdowiak Ridge into Network of Fractures

A.J.S. Rayl • December 03, 2014

Last month, the Earth's longest-lived and most traveled robot on another planet drove into a network of fractures the likes of which the scientists had never seen before on Mars and wound up working there through the end of the month – and then something not completely unexpected happened.

Orion L-2 Report: The Old Gives Way to the New

Jason Davis • December 02, 2014

With less than two days before Orion's maiden voyage, NASA and United Launch Alliance are cautiously optimistic the flight will launch Thursday as scheduled.

Hayabusa2 is about to launch! [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • December 02, 2014

Hayabusa2's H-IIA rocket has just reached its launchpad! Japan's next asteroid sample return mission was supposed to launch this weekend, but weather has not been good at the Tanegashima launch site and it has been delayed four days already. If the weather holds, it will launch December 3 at 04:22 UT (13:22 JST, or December 2 at 20:22, PT). UPDATED to add links to live webcasts.

Dawn Journal: Looking Ahead at Ceres

Marc Rayman • December 01, 2014

This month, Marc Rayman looks ahead to some upcoming activities for Dawn as it approaches the dwarf planet Ceres.

Field Report from Mars: Sol 3848 — November 20, 2014

Larry Crumpler • November 25, 2014

Larry Crumpler returns with an update on Opportunity's recent activities, and its road ahead.

Close to the end for Venus Express

Emily Lakdawalla • November 24, 2014

Venus Express is nearly out of fuel. Any day could be the last of its long mission to Venus.

Curiosity update, sols 782-813: Walking the outcrop at Pahrump Hills

Emily Lakdawalla • November 19, 2014

At Pahrump Hills, Curiosity is becoming the field geologist she was intended to be.

Rosetta imaged Philae during its descent -- and after its bounce

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2014

This morning ESA released a set of images of the Philae lander taken by the Rosetta orbiter during -- and after -- the lander's first touchdown. The images contain evidence for the spot Philae first touched the comet, and a crucial photo of Philae's position several minutes into its first long bounce.

Now Philae down to sleep

Emily Lakdawalla • November 15, 2014

My last post on the drama in Darmstadt, where ground controllers believe Philae may have fell asleep for good.

With New Horizons Ready to Wake Up, Scientists Prepare for Pluto Encounter

Jason Davis • November 14, 2014

When New Horizons wakes up for the final time on Dec. 6, scientists will spend six weeks preparing for the start of the spacecraft's Pluto encounter.

Philae update: My last day in Darmstadt, possibly Philae's last day of operations

Emily Lakdawalla • November 14, 2014

Emily Lakdawalla gives a status report on Philae from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt.

Philae status, a day later

Emily Lakdawalla • November 13, 2014

The Philae team scrambled all morning to comprehend the initially confusing status of the lander, and the picture is much clearer today. Speaking of which, there are lots more pictures!

Brief Philae "Morning After" update: First ÇIVA panorama from the surface

Emily Lakdawalla • November 13, 2014

I'm just getting up to speed on the news from overnight, which is mostly good: Philae remained in contact with the orbiter (which means the CONSERT radar sounding experiment was working), and it's sitting stably on the surface, although it's not anchored in any way. And they released the first ÇIVA image from the ground!

PHILAE HAS LANDED! [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • November 12, 2014

The landing happened on time just after 16:02 UT today! Philae mission manager Stephan Ulamec said: "Philae is talking to us! The first thing he told us was the harpoons have been fired and rewound. We are sitting on the surface." Those words later turned out not to be true; but we do know at least that Philae survived the landing and is returning good data.

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