Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/05/26 12:00 CDT
The intensified effort to recover Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Spirit came to an end early Wednesday morning Pacific time and NASA has now transitioned the mission to a single-rover operation focused on Spirit's still-active twin, Opportunity.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2011/05/25 05:47 CDT
NASA has selected the OSIRIS-REx mission as the next New Frontiers mission. OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) will be the first U.S. asteroid sample return.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/25 01:25 CDT
Yesterday, I remarked that despite the declaration of her death we'll be seeing Spirit frequently over the next few years, as long as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still monitoring her landing site with its HiRISE camera. I said that Spirit is a lump that's relatively easy to spot because of her dark shadow. Well, Spirit's managed to make herself even easier to spot than that.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/24 03:05 CDT
Alicia Chang reported today that, according to project manager John Callas, the last attempt to uplink a command to the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will be made tomorrow. NASA will cease listening for signals from Spirit on Tuesday.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/18 12:58 CDT
According to a story posted on xinmin.xn and run through Google Translate, there's now been an official announcement from China about Chang'e 2's extended mission: it will depart lunar orbit in mid-June and journey to L2.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/05/03 01:13 CDT
Dawn is on the threshold of a new world. After more than three and a half years of interplanetary travel covering in excess of 2.6 billion kilometers (1.6 billion miles), we are closing in on our first destination. Dawn is starting its approach to Vesta.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/04/30 12:00 CDT
As Opportunity drove her little robot heart out, breaking the 28-kilometer mark on her odometer, and driving the longest backward drive ever, April proved to be another month of exhilarating highs for the Mars Exploration Rover mission and one extended low with only silence from Spirit, despite intensified efforts by her Earth crew to establish contact.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2011/04/29 04:02 CDT
The Planetary Society's Shuttle LIFE experiment is now go for launch on Endeavour's STS-134 mission. I came down to Florida for the loading of our tiny sample tubes into the CREST-1 (Commercial Reusable Experiments for Science & Technology) payload block.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/28 06:07 CDT
Time again for my monthly look at what's going on with the robots exploring the solar system! The highlight of this month will, I think, be Dawn's first optical navigation images of its first target, Vesta.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/08 11:15 CDT
Spaceflight Now is following along as the next Jupiter orbiter, Juno, is journeying from its birthplace at Lockheed Martin in Denver to Cape Canaveral. As of this moment it has been packed up and loaded onto a flatbed trailer, which is driving through Denver with police escort, en route to the Denver airport, where it'll board a C-17 for the trip to Florida.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/04/07 03:14 CDT
Three and a half years after launch, Dawn continues its travels around the Sun, maneuvering to take the same orbital path as Vesta. The spacecraft has spent most of the past month gently thrusting with its ion propulsion system. Some of the thrusting this month, however, was not designed to propel Dawn to Vesta.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT
Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT
April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/03/31 12:00 CDT
The Mars Exploration Rover mission experienced a month of highs tempered by one haunting low as it neared completion of its 87th month of a three-month tour this month. While Opportunity wrapped up its work at the youngest, freshest crater the rovers have explored to date, Spirit remained silent as the point of maximum sunshine for the Martian year came and went, further dimming once high hopes that the rover would phone home and rove on as summer settled on the southern hemisphere of Mars.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/25 03:44 CDT
So, it's over. Stardust's last transmission to Earth was yesterday, March 24, 2011 at 23:33 UTC. Its final act was to burn up all of its last remaining fuel, a move intended to help engineers validate their guesses for how much fuel actually remained in the tanks.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/23 10:28 CDT
What's that in my eye? Must be a piece of stardust that's making my eyes water as I read that Stardust will be given its very last command tomorrow, a command that'll end its long life, but give its builders one more piece of valuable data in the process.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/23 05:05 CDT
I hate being the bearer of bad news, but here it is. Amid all the building excitement for Curiosity -- the successes in testing, the delivery of the instruments, the fun of tuning in to Curiosity Cam to peek in on engineers doing their work in preparing the next rover for launch -- I've learned that a much-anticipated (but not required) feature is not going to make it on to the rover.