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Blog Archive


Curiosity's first year on Mars: Where's the science?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/07 02:53 CDT | 31 comments

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Curiosity's landing on Mars, and there was much rejoicing. It's been fun to look back at that exciting day, and it's been an opportunity to reflect on what Curiosity has accomplished in her first year. What science do we have to show for it?

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3385 - August 2, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/08/06 06:54 CDT

This week Opportunity finished up a quick investigation of the strange rocky terrain out here in the plains where it is approaching the next mountain rim segment of Endeavour crater, Solander Point.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Celebrates Milestones, Arrives at Solander Suburb
Sols 3355 - 3384

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/08/05 03:44 CDT | 1 comments

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission Opportunity celebrated the 10th anniversary of its launch on July 7, 2003, and then went on to complete the last leg of its 2 km trek from Cape York to Solander Point. But just before the robot field geologist pulled onto the actual base of the ridge where it will spend its sixth Martian winter, Mars lured the team off the path with some of the weirdest Martian rocks the scientists have seen yet.

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Keeping up with Curiosity, almost a year after landing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/01 06:16 CDT | 4 comments

It seems like my attention wandered for just a moment, and all of a sudden Curiosity is really on the road. She's racked up drive after drive, methodically eating up the terrain between here and her goal: the ancient rocks at the foot of Mount Sharp.

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Dawn Journal: Craving Power

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/30 01:12 CDT | 5 comments

Ion propulsion is not a source of power for Dawn. Rather, the craft needs a great deal of power to operate its ion propulsion system and all other systems. It needs so much that...we crave power!!

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The road to Mars: updates on NASA's MAVEN and India's Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/29 08:00 CDT | 4 comments

The 2013 launch window for Mars is fast approaching. November represents the next chance to send spacecraft to the Red Planet; the next window doesn't open until early 2016. So NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are working hard to prepare their respective Mars missions for launch.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3378 - July 25, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/26 12:32 CDT

We are now only about 180 meters from the new mountain, Solander Point. We slowed down this week so that we could check out the rocks here where there is a strange hydration signature from orbital remote sensing.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3363 - July 10, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/18 01:41 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity is only a couple of hundred meters out and closing fast on the next mountain. A short side trip east is in the works to check out an anomaly in the terrain.

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A new HiRISE view of Opportunity (sol 3361)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/17 06:14 CDT

The HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has snapped a lovely color photo of the rim of Endeavour crater, catching Opportunity midway between Nobby's Head and Solander Point.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3355 - July 2, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/08 06:04 CDT

By Sol 3325 Opportunity has driven up onto the next "island" of rock, "Sutherland Point" and "Nobbys Head." On this sol Opportunity is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Mission Update: Opportunity Continues Sprint to Solander Point
Sols 3325 - 3354

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/07/04 04:04 CDT | 1 comments

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission celebrated its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth in June, as Opportunity continued the sprint to its next winter haven at Endeavour Crater.

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Dawn Journal: Breaking Velocity Records

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/02 10:26 CDT | 7 comments

The indefatigable Dawn spacecraft is continuing its extraordinary interplanetary flight on behalf of inquisitive creatures on distant Earth. Progressing ever farther from Vesta, the rocky and rugged world it so recently explored, the ship is making good progress toward its second port of call, dwarf planet Ceres.

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Is Opportunity near Lunokhod's distance record? Not as close as we used to think!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/21 06:47 CDT | 4 comments

A few weeks ago, a press release from the Opportunity mission celebrated Opportunity's surpassing of the previous NASA off-world driving record. That record was set in December 1972 by the Apollo 17 astronauts aboard their Lunar Roving Vehicle. They seem very close to Lunokhod 2's stated 37-kilometer driving record, but hold your horses -- we now know Lunokhod went longer than we thought.

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Favorite space images: "Many Worlds"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/17 10:58 CDT | 1 comments

For this evening's Planetary Radio Live event, Mat Kaplan asked me to do a presentation of some favorite space images. I told him that picking favorite space images is like picking favorite children; it's not possible because they're all my favorite. To narrow things down, I decided to explore a theme: "Many Worlds."

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Great News: New Horizons to "stay the course" at Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/17 02:47 CDT

This is extremely good news: after more than a year of analysis, the New Horizons mission and NASA have concluded and agreed that New Horizons' originally-planned trajectory past Pluto is likely safe from dust.

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Ten years since Spirit's launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/10 04:10 CDT | 1 comments

Ten years ago, Spirit launched on a Delta II rocket toward Mars, and I was there to see it.

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Pretty pictures: Curiosity working late

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/07 11:47 CDT | 2 comments

Just some cool photos of Curiosity lighting up the Cumberland drill hole after sunset for a little nighttime science work.

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Launch is coming! LADEE arrives at Wallops

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/06 10:01 CDT | 5 comments

It's a big day for any space mission: the shipping of the spacecraft from its assembly facility to its launch facility. That happened for the next lunar mission, LADEE, on June 4, 2013.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Departs Cape York, Breaks Apollo Record
Sols 3295 - 3325

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/06/05 09:22 CDT | 1 comments

It was a merry and mighty month of May for the Mars Exploration Rover mission: Opportunity finished a blockbuster study of Matijevic Hill finding the best evidence yet for an ancient, potentially habitable environment, and then embarked on its first real road trip in two years. The robot field geologist had barely gotten underway on its journey when it surpassed the Apollo 17 lunar rover distance record to become the most traveled NASA vehicle on another planetary body.

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Curiosity update, sol 295: "Hitting the road" to Mount Sharp

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/05 04:54 CDT | 3 comments

There was a Curiosity telephone conference this morning to make an exciting announcement: they're (almost) done at Glenelg and are preparing for the drive south to Mount Sharp. Allow me an editorial comment: finally!

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