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Close to the end for Venus Express

Emily Lakdawalla • November 24, 2014

Venus Express is nearly out of fuel. Any day could be the last of its long mission to Venus.

Curiosity update, sols 782-813: Walking the outcrop at Pahrump Hills

Emily Lakdawalla • November 19, 2014

At Pahrump Hills, Curiosity is becoming the field geologist she was intended to be.

Rosetta imaged Philae during its descent -- and after its bounce

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2014

This morning ESA released a set of images of the Philae lander taken by the Rosetta orbiter during -- and after -- the lander's first touchdown. The images contain evidence for the spot Philae first touched the comet, and a crucial photo of Philae's position several minutes into its first long bounce.

Now Philae down to sleep

Emily Lakdawalla • November 15, 2014

My last post on the drama in Darmstadt, where ground controllers believe Philae may have fell asleep for good.

With New Horizons Ready to Wake Up, Scientists Prepare for Pluto Encounter

Jason Davis • November 14, 2014

When New Horizons wakes up for the final time on Dec. 6, scientists will spend six weeks preparing for the start of the spacecraft's Pluto encounter.

Philae update: My last day in Darmstadt, possibly Philae's last day of operations

Emily Lakdawalla • November 14, 2014

Emily Lakdawalla gives a status report on Philae from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt.

Philae status, a day later

Emily Lakdawalla • November 13, 2014

The Philae team scrambled all morning to comprehend the initially confusing status of the lander, and the picture is much clearer today. Speaking of which, there are lots more pictures!

Brief Philae "Morning After" update: First ÇIVA panorama from the surface

Emily Lakdawalla • November 13, 2014

I'm just getting up to speed on the news from overnight, which is mostly good: Philae remained in contact with the orbiter (which means the CONSERT radar sounding experiment was working), and it's sitting stably on the surface, although it's not anchored in any way. And they released the first ÇIVA image from the ground!

PHILAE HAS LANDED! [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • November 12, 2014

The landing happened on time just after 16:02 UT today! Philae mission manager Stephan Ulamec said: "Philae is talking to us! The first thing he told us was the harpoons have been fired and rewound. We are sitting on the surface." Those words later turned out not to be true; but we do know at least that Philae survived the landing and is returning good data.

Philae update: Photo documentation of Philae's separation!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 12, 2014

Here it is. We knew hours ago that Philae separation happened, but there's nothing like seeing a photo, seeing Philae's mothership receding into the distance.

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.

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