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Space station module expansion called off after BEAM doesn't budge

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/05/26 10:58 CDT | 1 comments

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace weren't able to get the space station's newest module up and running this morning. Another attempt could come as early as Friday.

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OSIRIS-REx shipped to Florida for September launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/23 07:53 CDT | 1 comments

OSIRIS-REx's long journey to an asteroid has begun. The spacecraft departed Colorado on Friday, May 20, travelling aboard an Air Force C-17 to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

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Akatsuki begins a productive science mission at Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/19 06:02 CDT | 4 comments

Japan's Akatsuki Venus orbiter is well into its science mission, and has already produced surprising science results. The mission, originally planned to last two years, could last as many as five, monitoring Venus' atmosphere over the long term.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: The Eye of Sauron

Posted by Adam Block on 2016/05/18 12:46 CDT

Astrophotographer Adam Block shares his latest image, this time of a menacing spiral galaxy.

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ExoMars Rover Seeks Exit From Dire Straits

Posted by Anatoly Zak on 2016/05/17 06:16 CDT | 3 comments

The European Space Agency and Roskosmos have admitted the inevitable—the launch of the joint ExoMars-2018 project will have to be postponed for two years to 2020.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 4365 - May 5, 2016

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2016/05/13 10:43 CDT

Opportunity arrived at its current location on sol 4345 to begin investigation of an outcrop on the crest of a ridge near the west end of Marathon Valley.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Sleuths New Site for Smectites

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/05/10 08:01 CDT | 2 comments

Opportunity and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) team pressed on through the Martian winter and spent April sleuthing for clay minerals at the mission’s new site on the southern wall of Marathon Valley.

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Dawn Journal: A New Angle on Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/05/04 01:31 CDT | 27 comments

Since April 11, instead of photographing the scenery directly beneath it, Dawn has been aiming its camera to the left and forward as it orbits and Ceres rotates to map more of the dwarf planet.

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What's up in the solar system, May 2016 edition: Good news in cruise for Juno and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/03 11:17 CDT | 5 comments

May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 4333 - April 1, 2016

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2016/04/26 07:32 CDT

Opportunity has climbed west and up Marathon Valley in one of the final campaigns before moving on and beginning the summer field activities to the south southward.

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Quick Curiosity update, sol 1320: "Lubango," the 10th drill site on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/25 11:15 CDT | 1 comments

Curiosity has drilled into Mars for the 10th time at a site named Lubango, on sol 1320 (April 23, 2016). Lubango is in a bright-toned halo around a crack in the Stimson sandstone unit on the western edge of the Naukluft Plateau.

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Curiosity update, sols 1250-1310: Across the Naukluft Plateau

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/13 02:57 CDT | 8 comments

Curiosity has driven onward from Namib dune across a highstanding unit of rock called the Naukluft Plateau. Despite some frustrating sols lost to a short circuit in the RTG and DSN troubles, the rover has made progress, and performed lots of 3D imaging of weirdly wind-eroded rocks.

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Follow along: SpaceX CRS-8 launch and landing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/08 11:56 CDT

Follow along with The Planetary Society as SpaceX launches a Dragon spacecraft to the ISS and attempts to land a used booster rocket on a drone ship in the ocean. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:43 p.m. EDT (20:43 UTC).

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What's up in solar system exploration: April 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/04 10:58 CDT | 2 comments

This month (actually, today), Cassini had a relatively close flyby of Titan, and New Horizons will observe a very distant Kuiper belt object named 1994 JR1. Akatsuki has just fine-tuned its orbit around Venus, and Hayabusa2 has begun an 800-hour ion engine thrusting phase to steer it toward near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Soldiers through Martian March Madness
Sols 4303 - 4331

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/04/04 05:04 CDT | 4 comments

As March Madness on Earth sent sports fans into their annual kinetic frenzy watching more than 60 American teams battle it out for college basketball’s grandest title, Opportunity was experiencing her own Martian brand of March Madness.

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Dawn Journal: Sharper Views of Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/04/01 09:21 CDT | 1 comments

One year after taking up its new residence in the solar system, Dawn is continuing to witness extraordinary sights on dwarf planet Ceres. Mission Director Marc Rayman brings us his monthly update on Dawn's status.

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Tonight's Cygnus launch kicks off three ISS cargo runs in three weeks

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/22 06:32 CDT

Just days after receiving three new crew members, the ISS is about to become a veritable shipping hub, as three cargo ships launch to the orbital laboratory in as little as three weeks.

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ExoMars launch successful! What to expect for the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/14 04:30 CDT | 1 comments

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are safely on their way to Mars! The two lifted off at 9:31 UTC today, March 14, 2016. Orbiter and lander will arrive at Mars on October 19 at approximately 16:00 UTC. The lander is expected to last about 3 days. The orbiter will spend a year aerobraking before beginning its science mission.

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ExoMars: Prepare for launch!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/10 10:28 CST | 5 comments

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are in the final preparations for a launch as early as Monday, toward an October 2016 Mars orbit insertion and landing in Meridiani Planum. Launch on a Proton rocket is expected at 09:31:42 UT Monday, March 14. A Breeze-M upper stage will send the spacecraft on to Mars, with separation at 20:13 UT.

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InSight has a new launch date: May 5, 2018

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/09 03:41 CST

NASA has decided to move forward with the InSight mission after its delay last December, setting a new launch date of May 5, 2018. That will put the landing on Mars on November 26, 2018. In order to launch in two years, one of its two science instruments must be redesigned.

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