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Blog Archive

 

Dawn Journal: Dawn has arrived!

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/07/26 11:55 CDT

After covering 2.8 billion kilometers (1.7 billion miles) on its own, after traveling for nearly four years through the lonely emptiness of interplanetary space, after being bound by the gravity only of the sun, Dawn is finally in orbit around Vesta.

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Opportunity's horizon rises -- and maybe brings Cape York into view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/21 03:12 CDT

For miles and miles of Martian terrain, Opportunity's view forward has contained a distinctive line of hills—the far rim of Endeavour crater.

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Congratulations to the Dawn team on their orbit entry & pretty pictures!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/18 05:08 CDT

There's a new orbital mission on the map! As of Friday, the relatively small mass of the asteroid Vesta has finally taken hold of its new artificial satellite, Dawn.

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Congratulations to Russia on the launch of Spektr-R (RadioAstron)

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2011/07/18 02:08 CDT

Good news from Russia today: after 20 years of development they have finally launched their RadioAstron satellite (the official name is Spektr-R) into a high elliptical orbit around Earth.

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Hubble's Millionth Observation

Posted by Bill Nye on 2011/07/05 05:15 CDT

The Hubble Space Telescope has recorded its millionth observation. The planet is designated HAT-P-7b.

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Ever closer to Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/04 09:30 CDT

Here's a photo of Vesta that was released by the Dawn team on Friday. I didn't post it right away because the version of the image in the official release has some bizarre processing artifacts that make it look as though the image had been made by cutting construction paper.

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Latest report from Akatsuki failure review board

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/02 08:07 CDT

JAXA held a press conference on June 30 about the latest report from the review board that is charged with finding out what exactly caused Akatsuki's failure to enter orbit at Venus, and what that implies for the possibility of Akatsuki to try again when it returns to Venus in 2015 or 2016.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Roves Back into Record Books, Spirit is Honored

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/06/30 12:00 CDT

Opportunity 'burned up' the Meridiani Plains in June as it raced toward its much-anticipated next destination and the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission cruised into the 90th month of what was originally to have been a 90-day tour.

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What's up in the solar system in July 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/29 02:35 CDT

Time again for my monthly look at what's going on with the robots exploring the solar system! It'll be a month full of routine activities for our intrepid explorers performing ongoing science at Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, and Saturn.

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Dawn Journal: Closing in on Vesta

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/06/27 11:19 CDT

Vesta beckons, and Dawn responds. Now more than halfway through its approach to Vesta, Dawn continues creeping up on the destination it has been pursuing since it began its interplanetary travels.

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Vesta looks pretty battered

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/23 01:53 CDT

There was a press briefing on Dawn today at NASA Headquarters, and there are new pictures! Here's what Vesta looked like as of three days ago, when Dawn was only 189,000 kilometers away.

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According to Nature News, Curiosity is going to Gale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/23 12:08 CDT

Nature News is reporting that the Mars Science Laboratory mission has made its recommendation for the landing site for the next great Mars rover, and it's Gale crater.

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How to Wrap a Mars Rover, redux

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/21 11:31 CDT

All right, I'll admit it: JPL's video is way, way cooler than mine. Four days of packing Curiosity up for shipping, condensed into under a minute.

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Vesta, now better than Hubble!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/17 07:55 CDT

Closer and closer! Vesta is still fuzzy, but as Dawn inexorably draws closer it's beginning to come into focus. The view is now better than anything Hubble has ever returned to Earth.

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How to Wrap a Mars Rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/17 09:02 CDT

It's not easy to wrap a ginormous rover for shipping. I was glued to the feed from the Curiosity Cam all day yesterday, as they prepared Curiosity for shipping to Kennedy Space Center. Here's a low-budget time-lapse of the rover being wrapped.

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Chang'E 2 is on its way to Sun-Earth L2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/16 02:39 CDT

According to an article published a week ago by the Xinhua news service, Chang'E 2 departed the Moon on June 9 at 09:10 UTC. It's now headed toward a Lagrangian point in space, but not the one I thought it was headed for.

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In Memory of Spirit, and Why Cuteness Matters

Posted by Melissa Rice on 2011/06/15 02:21 CDT

An analysis of "cuteness," and why it matters when talking about science.

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Rosetta has entered its long sleep

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/14 12:25 CDT

One big space event that I missed while I was on vacation was Rosetta's entry into hibernation. Rosetta is the biggest interplanetary spacecraft that has been launched by ESA, and it has the groundbreaking goal of entering orbit around a comet and dropping a lander onto it.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Mission Declared Over, Opportunity Roves Closer to Endeavour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration mission suffered the loss of Spirit and shifted to one-rover operations in May, but Opportunity carried on, blasting across the plains of Meridiani to within 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of its next major destination and discovery.

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What's up in the solar system in June 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/31 08:06 CDT

Time again for my monthly look at what's going on with the robots exploring the solar system! It'll be a busy month for Cassini, with lots of cool icy moon observations.

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