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Update on yesterday's post about Chang'E 2 going to Toutatis

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/15 11:29 CDT | 3 comments

I have a couple of updates on my post from yesterday: confirmation that Chang'E 2 is indeed gone from L2, and more specifics on encounter dates with Toutatis.

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Chang'E 2 has departed Earth's neighborhood for.....asteroid Toutatis!?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/14 07:53 CDT | 1 comment

According to a Chinese spaceflight forum, Chang'E program chief scientist Ouyang Ziyuan recently announced that Chang'E 2 has departed the Sun-Earth L2 point and is now en route to asteroid 4179 Toutatis!

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China readies three taikonauts for station visit

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/06/13 11:05 CDT | 1 comment

The stage is set for China’s space program to make history this weekend, as it prepares to send three taikonauts to visit Tiangong-1, the country’s first space station.

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Successful launch for NuSTAR on a Pegasus XL

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/13 11:50 CDT

NuSTAR, the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever developed, launched successfully at 16:00 UT. This was a fun launch to watch, because the launch vehicle was a Pegasus XL air-launched rocket, dropped like a bomb from open bay doors of an L-1011 airplane.

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Curiosity's shrinking landing ellipse

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/11 12:32 CDT | 6 comments

There was good news and bad news in this morning's press briefing about Curiosity rover's upcoming landing on Mars, just eight weeks from now. First, the good news: the landing ellipse has shrunk. The bad news: there's a contamination problem with the drill, and the Odyssey orbiter is in safe mode.

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Oppy close to the edge…

Posted by Stuart Atkinson on 2012/06/05 10:00 CDT

Since you last visited, Opportunity has continued to drive downhill – well, what passes for ‘downhill’ on Cape York! – and is now not far at all from the northern edge of the Cape. From where she is now she sees the Meridiani desert stretching away to the north and west, the eastern hills on her right, and the Cape itself behind her. And around her? lots and lots of Homestake-like gypsum veins.

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Dawn Journal: Riding gravitational currents to HAMO2

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/06/05 03:30 CDT

Dawn is beginning its departure from Vesta, spiraling upward from its low-altitude mapping orbit to a higher one from which it will map north polar terrain not visible during the earlier mapping orbit.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Departs Winter Site for Field of Veins

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2012/06/02 05:43 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity strolled out of her winter haven this May to continue the expedition around Endeavour Crater, roving into yet another Martian spring.

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LightSail presented at Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/05/31 03:10 CDT | 20 comments

Chris Biddy from Stellar Exploration Inc. presented information about our LightSail project at the 2012 Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium.

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What's Up in the Solar System in June 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/31 07:04 CDT | 2 comments

This month, Opportunity is roving again, while Curiosity approaches Mars; Cassini's finally seeing rings, and will fly by Mimas, Titan, and Tethys; GRAIL has completed its primary mission and is journeying toward the second; Dawn is climbing to the HAMO2 orbit; and a rare transit of Venus is coming up on June 5/6.

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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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