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After decades of silence, a vintage spacecraft says hello to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/06 05:16 CDT

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project has established two-way communication with a 36-year-old spacecraft, but more challenges lie ahead.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Hunts Ancient Clays along Murray Ridge
Sols 3650-3680

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/06/05 10:11 CDT

At the western rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity spent the month of May exploring a new clayground along Murray Ridge and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission trundled into the 125th month of what was originally to be a short, 3-month tour.

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The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun!

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/05 09:54 CDT

The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun! Seeing the core structure being assembled demonstrated that OSIRIS-REx is no longer just a set of drawings and PowerPoint charts, it is starting to become a real spacecraft.

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Dawn Journal: Survey Orbit at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/06/03 09:59 CDT | 2 comments

This month Dawn's mission director Marc Rayman continues the preview of how Dawn will explore Ceres, this time in its survey orbit.

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Curiosity update, sols 631-644: On the road again

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/30 06:51 CDT | 6 comments

The last couple of weeks have seen Curiosity return to the business of making steady headway toward Murray Buttes and, beyond them, Mount Sharp. Eight of the last 14 sols have seen drives ranging in length from 30 to 104 meters, racking up a total of more than half a kilometer. They are now occasionally working a shortened planning timeline that allows them to squeeze more drive sols into Curiosity's schedule.

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The value of a Guest Investigator program for Dawn

Posted by Anne Verbiscer on 2014/05/23 09:20 CDT | 1 comment

NASA selected 21 Participating Scientists to join the Dawn team in 2010, prior to Dawn's arrival at Vesta in 2011. Since that time, Dawn Participating Scientists have made enormous contributions to the mission, as they do for most other NASA missions. But the status of a Participating Scientist program for Dawn at Ceres has been in doubt.

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Venus Express science mission ends; aerobraking experiment beginning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/16 03:33 CDT | 4 comments

Venus Express, currently the only spacecraft orbiting our nearest planetary neighbor, will soon meet a fiery end in Venus' atmosphere. But its work isn't over yet. ESA will maneuver Venus Express to dip into the uppermost Venus atmosphere and study how the spacecraft responds to atmospheric pressure, giving ESA valuable experience in aerobraking.

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Curiosity update, sols 610-630: Drilling work at Windjana

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/15 12:20 CDT | 3 comments

Finally, a new drill site! For the first time in nearly a year, Curiosity has put drill bit to rock and acquired a new sample of Martian material for her analytical instruments to chew on. Scientific data collection at Windjana is now complete; Curiosity drove away last night, on sol 630.

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Pretty pictures: Rosetta's comet is now acting like one!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/15 10:17 CDT | 5 comments

New photos from ESA's comet-chaser show its destination comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, developing a coma.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3650 – May 2, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/05/12 11:09 CDT | 1 comment

Opportunity is closing in on the next important outcrop area on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Rosetta update: Final orbit matching phase has begun

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/08 04:05 CDT | 1 comment

Rosetta is in the final stage of its approach to comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Yesterday, the spacecraft successfully performed the first of ten burns it needs to match velocity with the comet.

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New Horizons: Updates From the April 2014 Science Team Meeting

Posted by Simon Porter on 2014/05/07 06:36 CDT | 1 comment

New Horizons team member Simon Porter reports on the state of the mission and Pluto system science from the recent science team meeting at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

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Dawn Journal: Explaining Orbit Insertion

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/05/06 08:21 CDT | 4 comments

Less than a year from its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to make excellent progress on its ambitious interplanetary adventure. But once it gets to Ceres, just how will it go into orbit? Marc Rayman explains.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Roves to Next Clay Mine
Sols 3619 - 3650

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/05/02 10:36 CDT | 3 comments

The Mars Exploration Rovers mission cruised toward the Martian spring, Opportunity is powered-up and cleaner than it has been since its first winter on Mars.

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Curiosity update, sols 597-610: Picking a drill site at the Kimberley

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/24 01:14 CDT | 2 comments

After completing the initial reconnaissance of the Kimberley outcrop two weeks ago, Curiosity is, at last, moving toward a drill site. The science team selected the location last week: a spot near the base of Mount Remarkable, into what they have been calling the "middle unit" at the Kimberley.

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Days before its crash, LADEE saw zodiacal light above the lunar horizon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/23 12:55 CDT | 4 comments

LADEE ended its mission as planned with a crash into the lunar surface on April 17. Just days prior, it turned its star tracker camera toward the lunar horizon and captured a striking series of images of the lunar sunrise and zodiacal light.

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Rosetta update: Instrument commissioning going well; Philae cameras activated

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/22 12:46 CDT

Rosetta and Philae have very nearly completed a six-week phase of spacecraft and instrument checkouts to prepare the mission to do science. Recently, the lander used its cameras for the first time since hibernation, producing some new photos of Rosetta in space.

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The End of Opportunity and the Burden of Success
Can NASA sustain its golden age of planetary exploration?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/15 08:19 CDT | 11 comments

The Opportunity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are both zeroed out in NASA's 2015 budget. Learn why these missions face the axe and why the White House is forcing NASA to choose between existing missions and starting new ones.

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Curiosity update: Initial reconnaissance of the Kimberley, sols 585-595

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/11 12:08 CDT | 3 comments

Curiosity has been busy performing a survey of the Kimberley, walking the length of the outcrop and taking enormous quantities of photos. The team is now ready to go in for a closer look, and maybe even to drill.

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Yutu Update

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2014/04/10 03:08 CDT | 1 comment

We don’t hear a lot at the moment about Chang’E 3 and Yutu, the Chinese lander and rover which were all over the news a few months ago. But Phil Stooke has been collecting news online and in person last month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and now tries to put it all together and address the current state of the mission.

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