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Blog Archive

 

Dawn Journal: Explaining Orbit Insertion

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/05/06 08:21 CDT | 4 comments

Less than a year from its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to make excellent progress on its ambitious interplanetary adventure. But once it gets to Ceres, just how will it go into orbit? Marc Rayman explains.

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Curiosity update, sols 597-610: Picking a drill site at the Kimberley

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/24 01:14 CDT | 2 comments

After completing the initial reconnaissance of the Kimberley outcrop two weeks ago, Curiosity is, at last, moving toward a drill site. The science team selected the location last week: a spot near the base of Mount Remarkable, into what they have been calling the "middle unit" at the Kimberley.

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Days before its crash, LADEE saw zodiacal light above the lunar horizon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/23 12:55 CDT | 4 comments

LADEE ended its mission as planned with a crash into the lunar surface on April 17. Just days prior, it turned its star tracker camera toward the lunar horizon and captured a striking series of images of the lunar sunrise and zodiacal light.

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Rosetta update: Instrument commissioning going well; Philae cameras activated

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/22 12:46 CDT

Rosetta and Philae have very nearly completed a six-week phase of spacecraft and instrument checkouts to prepare the mission to do science. Recently, the lander used its cameras for the first time since hibernation, producing some new photos of Rosetta in space.

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The End of Opportunity and the Burden of Success
Can NASA sustain its golden age of planetary exploration?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/15 08:19 CDT | 11 comments

The Opportunity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are both zeroed out in NASA's 2015 budget. Learn why these missions face the axe and why the White House is forcing NASA to choose between existing missions and starting new ones.

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Curiosity update: Initial reconnaissance of the Kimberley, sols 585-595

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/11 12:08 CDT | 3 comments

Curiosity has been busy performing a survey of the Kimberley, walking the length of the outcrop and taking enormous quantities of photos. The team is now ready to go in for a closer look, and maybe even to drill.

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Yutu Update

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2014/04/10 03:08 CDT | 1 comments

We don’t hear a lot at the moment about Chang’E 3 and Yutu, the Chinese lander and rover which were all over the news a few months ago. But Phil Stooke has been collecting news online and in person last month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and now tries to put it all together and address the current state of the mission.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3623 – April 3, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/04/06 01:17 CDT

Larry Crumpler gives an update on Opportunity's current location, next long-term target, and excitingly increasing power levels.

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NASA's LADEE Spacecraft to Fly Through an Eclipse, Crash into the Lunar Surface on April 21st
It's end-game for NASA's latest lunar mission

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/04 01:13 CDT | 1 comments

LADEE, NASA's latest robotic lunar spacecraft, will reach its planned end-of-mission on April 21st, when it will crash on the far side of the Moon.

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Dawn Journal: Orbital Trajectories

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/04/01 09:48 CDT | 3 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on Dawn's status and explains how the spacecraft is actually getting closer to Earth at the moment as it moves deeper into the asteroid belt.

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Curiosity update, sols 570-583: Arrival at Kimberley and preparation for an arm workout

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/28 03:00 CDT | 3 comments

Some arm faults caused delays on Curiosity's approach to Kimberley, but the rover is now parked at its north edge, examining the "striated unit" up close with arm-mounted instruments.

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Returning Explorers

Posted by Achim Vollhardt on 2014/03/28 01:25 CDT | 3 comments

ICE has been on a journey for over 30 years around our sun. While the owner has decided not to bring the ship back to its home port, a group of radio amateurs tries to find out how ICE is doing.

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Comet spotted! Rosetta's first sight of Churymov-Gerasimenko since wakeup

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/27 09:58 CDT | 2 comments

Rosetta has turned on its cameras and sighted its comet for the first time since waking from hibernation. Next activity: waking the Philae lander.

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The NASA Budget: What Next
We're just getting started

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/03/26 05:27 CDT | 5 comments

Now that the White House has released its 2015 NASA budget proposal, what happens next? What can you do to help?

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ICE/ISEE-3 update: Amateurs detect its signal while professionals study contacting it

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/20 10:12 CDT | 7 comments

Since the last time I reported on ICE/ISEE-3, there have been several developments. Its signal has been detected by several Earth-based observers, and there is now some (though slight) hope of reestablishing command over the spacecraft.

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Curiosity update, sols 563-569: Kimberley ahoy!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/16 05:12 CDT | 1 comments

With a series of drives over the last week, Curiosity is now approaching her next science stop at Kimberley. The distinctive knobs of the Kimberley outcrop are visible in photos taken on sol 569.

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The Very Large Telescope sights Rosetta's comet target, sees activity beginning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/10 02:18 CDT

Rosetta's comet target, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has emerged from behind the Sun as seen from Earth, and the Very Large Telescope has photographed it. The new images show that cometary activity has already begun as Rosetta approaches for its August rendezvous.

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Curiosity update, sols 549-562: Shooting past Kylie on the road to Kimberley

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/06 07:35 CST | 7 comments

In a series of drives, Curiosity flew past the "striated terrain" that outcropped at Kylie, and is now negotiating her way around some rockier territory as she makes her way south toward the enticing outcrops of Kimberley.

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Checking in on Chang'e 3 and Yutu from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Yep, still there!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/04 01:08 CST

Seeing hardware that was built by human hands sitting on the surface of another planet never, ever gets old. Today, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released two new images of Chang'e 3 and Yutu on the Moon.

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Brief Yutu update: Slightly more detail on what's keeping rover from roving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/03 12:13 CST | 4 comments

Over the weekend, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported in both Chinese and English a little bit more information on what has stilled the Yutu rover's motions across the lunar surface: "a control circuit malfunction in its driving unit."

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