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Dragon makes history, berths with International Space Station

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/05/25 02:24 CDT | 1 comment

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft has been successfully grappled with the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and berthed with the station's Harmony module.

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Congratulations to SpaceX

Posted by Bill Nye on 2012/05/24 07:57 CDT | 1 comment

On May 22, the Space-X Falcon rocket with its cargo capsule on top launched from Cape Canaveral and reached orbit ready to dock with the International Space Station. So far everything is going perfectly. It’s a huge step. Congratulations to Space-X, Elon Musk and his team.

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Opportunity is a ROVER again!

Posted by Stuart Atkinson on 2012/05/14 12:42 CDT | 2 comments

After driving off Greeley Haven – where she stood patiently for 19 long weeks – Opportunity is now driving again. Not just turning, not just bumping, but driving.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Begins to Wrap Winter Science, Mission Celebrates Month 100

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2012/05/03 10:06 CDT

As winter began to retreat in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet, Opportunity was commanded to finish up her science assignments in April in preparation for leaving its refuge, and the Mars Exploration Rover mission rolled through its 100th month of exploration.

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Dawn Journal: Rising from a happily long LAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/05/03 03:39 CDT | 3 comments

Marc Rayman's monthly check-in with the Dawn mission describes the achievements of the spacecraft in its Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit (including near-global high-resolution imaging!) and explains what's next.

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Examining India's new RISAT 1 Earth observation satellite

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/05/02 12:03 CDT | 1 comment

Last week, India launched RISAT 1, a new Earth-observing satellite. How does its synthetic aperture radar compare to that of Envisat, which has fallen silent?

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What's up in the solar system in May 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/01 10:16 CDT

Welcome to my monthly roundup of the activities of our intrepid robotic emissaries across the solar system! I count 16 spacecraft that are actively performing 13 scientific missions at Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Vesta, Saturn, and at the edge of the heliosphere. This month's highlight: Cassini's about to fly close past Enceladus and Dione.

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Cheat sheets for Vesta's craters and Dawn's Vesta timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/19 01:38 CDT

I made myself a cheat sheet to many of Vesta's distinctive-looking craters, and also wrote down a list of the major dates in the timeline of Dawn's exploration of Vesta.

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JUICE: Europe's next mission to Jupiter?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/18 12:00 CDT

The Twitterverse is buzzing this morning with news that the Science Programme Committee of the European Space Agency has recommended that the next large European mission be JUICE, a mission to explore the three icy Galilean satellites and eventually to orbit Ganymede.

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SpaceX Dragon flight to ISS draws near

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/04/16 09:45 CDT | 1 comment

SpaceX and NASA have completed a successful flight readiness review (FRR) for the Dragon's upcoming visit to the International Space Station.

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MESSENGER Mission Update: First burn performed to lower extended mission altitude

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/16 07:58 CDT

The MESSENGER mission just issued a press release announcing that they have completed the first step in the two-step process of lowering the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury.

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An update on Opportunity, and a plea for some volunteer desktop publishing help

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/03 05:00 CDT | 2 comments

A. J. S. Rayl has just posted her monthly update on the goings-on at Meridiani planum, noting that the update recaps the 99th month of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. There's a lot of detail on how the radio-tracking campaign is going. While she's not driving, Opportunity's acting like a lander, with radio antennas on Earth performing Doppler tracking to allow very fine measurement of Mars' orbital motion.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Gets Energy Boost and Works Through Depths of Winter

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2012/03/31 05:40 CDT

March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb at Meridiani Planum, Mars: Opportunity felt the cold wind on her solar panels, then "settled" in a little more, working through the depths of its fifth Martian winter, as the team honored one of its own up there, and the Mars Exploration Rover mission logged month number 99 of exploration.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/30 02:27 CDT

Welcome to my monthly roundup of the activities of our intrepid robotic emissaries across the solar system! I count 16 spacecraft that are actively performing 13 scientific missions at Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Vesta, Saturn, and at the edge of the heliosphere.

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Dawn Journal: Saluting the Sun

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/03/29 05:19 CDT

On April 18, Dawn will attain its greatest separation yet from Earth, nearly 520 million kilometers. Well beyond Mars, fewer than a dozen spacecraft have ever operated so far from Earth.

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What's up in the solar system in March 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/27 02:53 CDT

This month will see GRAIL begin its science mission measuring the Moon's gravity field. MESSENGER will complete its primary mission at Mercury, celebrating its one-Earth-year-in-orbit anniversary with a big data release, and immediately begin work on its one-year extended mission. Mars will pass its solstice, ushering in warmer days for Opportunity. Coincidentally, this month will see Jupiter's southern winter solstice, too, though there are no spacecraft there to notice it. Out at Saturn, Cassini will have two encounters with Enceladus this month, one of them distant, one of them at 74 kilometers altitude.

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Venus Express star trackers recovered

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/09 07:18 CST

Just a quick note because I didn't want to let the weekend go by without telling people that Venus Express' star trackers are back online.

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Good news, bad news: GRAIL science underway, Venus Express suffers storm damage

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/08 06:54 CST

Two brief mission updates. First, the good news: NASA announced yesterday that the twin GRAIL spacecraft have begun the science phase of the mission, transmitting precisely timed signals to each other in order to map the Moon's gravity field. The bad news: according to ESA, since the recent solar storm passed Venus, both of Venus Express' star trackers are suddenly unable to detect stars.

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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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