Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/17 02:11 CDT
The day is finally here! In only five and a half hours, at 00:45 on March 18 (according to the spacecraft's clock), MESSENGER must ignite its main engine and run though a third of its fuel in only 15 minutes in order to enter its planned orbit around Mercury.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/03/09 01:06 CST
Deep in the asteroid belt, Dawn continues thrusting with its ion propulsion system. The spacecraft is making excellent progress in reshaping its orbit around the sun to match that of its destination, the unexplored world Vesta, with arrival now less than five months away.
Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2011/03/04 01:16 CST
Another painful loss to NASA's mission to study Earth from space: Today a Taurus XL rocket failed to lift the Glory satellite into Earth orbit when its clam-shell nosecone refused to open, forcing the rocket and its payload into the southern Pacific Ocean.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/02/28 11:00 CST
The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission emerged from its third solar conjunction this month and, as March roars in, is embarking on its 86th month on the Red Planet. While Opportunity roved away from a surface target it had been studying at Santa Maria Crater and on to an intriguing blue boulder, JPL engineers on Earth stepped up their efforts to recover Spirit, which has been silent, ostensibly in hibernation mode, since late March, nearly one year ago.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/24 05:50 CST
According to the Stardust website, the spacecraft has continued taking navigational camera images of Tempel 1 since last Monday's flyby. But "This will end with a Navcam calibration that will take place [today]. This will be the end of the official Tempel 1 encounter activities. Planning is under way for the decommissioning of the spacecraft."
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/22 03:17 CST
ESA's Rosetta comet chaser has achieved 98% of the velocity change that it needed to accomplish in order to set itself up for the final leg of its cruise to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The original plan was to perform this velocity change in a series of five rocket burns at the end of January, but the plans were interrupted by a scary event: the spacecraft went into safe mode during the second burn, on January 18.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/15 03:10 CST
It was a very happy science team at this afternoon's press briefing following the Stardust encounter with Tempel 1.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/15 02:25 CST
Here it is, the first image from Stardust of Tempel 1 during the close-approach phase!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/14 10:19 CST
Just a brief update on the Stardust flyby of Tempel 1, which happened about half an hour ago: the spacecraft seems to have executed the flyby as commanded and has 72 science images on board.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/14 04:42 CST
Stardust is very close to the last major act of its mission: the flyby of Tempel 1, which will take place at 20:40 PST (04:40 UTC). Here's a summary of the recent and current status of the mission, and how to follow the events over the next 24 hours.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/09 12:47 CST
Thanks to the work of several amateurs, Google Mars is a great tool for following the past and future peregrinations of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/04 08:15 CST
The Rosetta blog has been strangely quiet of late, after they had been quite actively posting updates on the status of Rosetta during a critical series of orbit adjustment burns, which I wrote about two weeks ago.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/03 01:47 CST
Welcome to my monthly roundup of what's happening with our deep-space explorers across the solar system. I apologize for its lateness; two sick kids have drastically affected my productivity this week, but they're better and now I'm getting back to work.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/02/03 12:10 CST
Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/01 10:03 CST
Now that Stardust has images of its target comet to work with, the mission was able to figure out their relative positions more precisely, and they've gone ahead with an important rocket firing that shifts the spacecraft's aimpoint past the comet closer to the number that they want.