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Philae update: "Go" for landing, despite apparent failure of cold-gas jet system [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • November 12, 2014

Philae is "go" for landing. But there has been drama overnight. One of the steps to prepare for landing did not proceed as planned. UPDATE: At 09:03 UTC, the lander separated from the orbiter, beginning a 7-hour descent to the surface of the comet.

Philae update: First of four "go-no-go" decisions is a GO!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 11, 2014

It's been a day of calm before the storm here at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, as we get ready for the big event tomorrow: Philae's hoped-for landing on a comet. The first of four "go-no-go" decisions has been made, and it's a "go." Mission navigators have gotten data back from Rosetta that indicates that the spacecraft is on the correct trajectory to deliver Philae to the comet.

Report from Darmstadt: Philae status and early Rosetta results from DPS

Emily Lakdawalla • November 11, 2014

I'm reporting live from the press room at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. There's little news on Philae yet except that its status is good. Meanwhile, Rosetta scientists presented their first early comet results at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson, Arizona, which I watched from afar using Twitter.

Philae landing preview: What to expect on landing day

Emily Lakdawalla • November 05, 2014

Earth's first-ever landing on a comet is a week away. On November 12 at 8:35 UT, Philae will separate from Rosetta. Seven hours later, it will arrive at the surface of the comet. Hopefully, Philae will survive the landing, and begin to return data.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Images Comet, Ducks Storm, Departs Ulysses

A.J.S. Rayl • November 04, 2014

As winds whirled and converged to the west of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity's power dropped dramatically in October, but the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) pressed on. By month's end, the robot field geologist had completed her assignments – including capturing the first close-in shot of a comet from the surface of the Red Planet – and was roving onward through the darkness, driving the mission into the 130th month of what started out more than 10-and-a-half years ago to be a 3-month tour.

Chang'e 5 test vehicle flying on to Earth-Moon L2

Emily Lakdawalla • November 03, 2014

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle service module did not follow the sample return capsule into Earth's atmosphere. Instead, it successfully performed a divert maneuver, and is now on its way to the Earth-Moon L2 point

Dawn Journal: Ion thrusting (or not)

Marc Rayman • November 02, 2014

Marc Rayman gives the latest update on the Dawn mission, focusing this time on the performance of its ion propulsion system.

Chang'e 5 test vehicle "Xiaofei" lands successfully

Emily Lakdawalla • October 31, 2014

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle landed successfully in Inner Mongolia today after an 8-day mission. It demonstrated technology that China plans to use for automated sample return by the Chang'e 5 mission in 2017.

Hayabusa2 nearly ready for launch: Photos from Tanegashima, and new artist's renderings

Emily Lakdawalla • October 30, 2014

On October 27, JAXA provided media with an opportunity to view the Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Tanegashima space center, where it's making final preparations for launch. Koumei Shibata was there, and took several photos. And artist Go Miyazaki has shared several terrific new renderings of the spacecraft in flight.

UPDATED: China successfully launched test mission for Chang'e 5 program today

Emily Lakdawalla • October 23, 2014

China launched to the Moon today! The spacecraft will have a brief, 8-day mission, out to the Moon and back. It is an engineering test for the technology that the future Chang'e 5 sample return mission will need to return its precious samples to Earth.

Status update: All Mars missions fine after Siding Spring flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • October 20, 2014

All seven Mars spacecraft are doing perfectly fine after comet Siding Spring's close encounter with Mars.

Curiosity update, sols 764-781: Work complete at Confidence Hills; puzzling arm issues

Emily Lakdawalla • October 17, 2014

Curiosity spent a total of four weeks at Confidence Hills, feeding samples to SAM and CheMin several times. On two weekends during this period, the rover's activities were interrupted by faults with the robotic arm. Curiosity drove away from Confidence Hills on sol 780, and is ready to observe comet Siding Spring over the weekend.

Finally! New Horizons has a second target

Emily Lakdawalla • October 15, 2014

What a huge relief: there is finally a place for New Horizons to visit beyond Pluto. A team of researchers led by John Spencer has discovered three possible targets, all in the Cold Classical part of the Kuiper belt. One is particularly easy to reach. New Horizons would fly past the 30-45-kilometer object in January 2019.

Field Report from Mars: Sol 3808 — October 10, 2014

Larry Crumpler • October 15, 2014

Opportunity will become a comet flyby mission beginning in mid-October. The comet Siding Spring will zoom past Mars at a distance of about 135,000 km on October 19.

Mars Orbiter Mission shifts orbit to take cover from Siding Spring

Srinivas Laxman • October 09, 2014

With only 10 days remaining until the arrival of Comet Siding Spring at Mars, ISRO has shielded the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) from the comet. On Tuesday MOM’s orbit was altered so as to move it behind the Red Planet when the comet arrives. MOM will carry out observations of the comet and its Mars Colour Camera will click images of it.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Gets Extension, Returns Killer Panoramas, and Roves onto Mystery Rocks

A.J.S. Rayl • October 04, 2014

While the winds of Martian spring blew through Meridiani Planum in September, Opportunity reformatted its Flash memory then continued exploring Wdowiak Ridge on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. Even though the Flash-related issues soon returned, the robot field geologist hardly seemed to notice as it sent home two spectacular panoramas, presented the scientists with a rocky Martian mystery, and delivered yet another September to remember for the mission. And that's not all.

Mars Orbiter Mission activates all science instruments as NASA, ISRO form joint Mars working group

Srinivas Laxman • October 01, 2014

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) began its science activities fully on Wednesday with all five science instruments being activated. And on Tuesday, an ISRO-NASA Mars working group was formed which will "seek to identify and implement scientific and technological goals that NASA and ISRO have in common regarding Mars exploration."

Brief mission update: Hayabusa2 has a launch date!

Emily Lakdawalla • September 29, 2014

JAXA announced the launch date for their Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission today: November 30 at 13:24:48 Japan standard time (04:24:48 UT / November 29 at 20:24:48 PST)

Curiosity update, sols 748-763: Driving and Drilling at Pahrump Hills

Emily Lakdawalla • September 29, 2014

The biggest news on Curiosity of late is that the rover has drilled her fourth full drill hole on Mars! Drilling happened at a site called "Confidence Hills" on sol 759. But before she did that, she took a long series of amazing photos of rock formations at Jubilee Pass, Panamint Butte, and Upheaval Dome.

Dawn Journal: 7 Years of Interplanetary Travel

Marc Rayman • September 27, 2014

Marc Rayman gives us an update on the Dawn mission, heading to Ceres, on the 7th anniversary of its launch.

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