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Blog Archive


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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Dawn Journal: Thrusting to a new personal best

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/06/02 12:07 CDT | 2 comments

Traveling from one alien world to another, Dawn is reliably powering its way through the main asteroid belt with its ion propulsion system. Vesta falls farther and farther behind as the spacecraft gently and patiently reshapes its orbit around the sun, aiming for a 2015 rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Special Update: Opportunity's Findings at Endeavour, So Far

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/05/25 03:03 CDT | 2 comments

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity left Cape York on May 14th and embarked on a 2-kilometer journey south along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover is heading now to Solander Point, where it will spend the coming Martian winter.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3317- May 24, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/05/24 11:27 CDT

Opportunity finally started driving south from its location on the outcrop where it had been since solar conjunction.

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India's Mars Orbiter Mission update: six months from launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/05/21 11:06 CDT | 11 comments

A couple of articles on India's Mars Orbiter Mission were published on the news website The Week yesterday, and they're much more in-depth and insightful than the norm.

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Opportunity and Curiosity updates: Rolling and drilling and a little wear on the wheels

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/05/20 11:27 CDT | 3 comments

For most of April, while Mars scuttled behind the Sun as seen from Earth, both Mars rovers were pretty inactive. Now that conjunction has ended, both are doing what rovers should be doing: roving and exploring. As of sol 3312 Opportunity had moved more than 300 meters southward toward Solander Point, while on her sol 279 Curiosity drilled at a second site, Cumberland.

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New Horizons: Encounter Planning Accelerates

Posted by Alan Stern on 2013/05/17 10:18 CDT | 4 comments

Back in 2005 and 2006, when Pluto’s second and third moons (Nix and Hydra) were discovered, searches by astronomers for still more moons didn’t reveal any. So the accidental discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon by the Hubble Space Telescope in mid-2011 raised the possibility that the hazards in the Pluto system might be greater than previously anticipated.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3310- May 17, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/05/17 11:27 CDT

Opportunity has finally completed the detailed survey of the outcrops on the Cape York segment of the rim of the 22-km diameter Endeavour crater.

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Chang'e 3 undergoing thermal vacuum testing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/05/09 10:48 CDT | 5 comments

China's lunar lander and rover are undergoing some of their last major tests and so are nearly ready for launch.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Emerges from Solar Conjunction to Wrap-Up Work on Matijevic Hill
Sols 3266 - 3295

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/05/02 03:15 CDT | 1 comments

As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team waited out solar conjunction, Opportunity spent most of April atop the western rim of Endeavour Crater, conducting a chemical analysis of an ancient waterborne vein on Matijevic Hill. It was by the book until the last week of the month when the robot field geologist suffered an electronic "hiccup" known as a warm re-boot, and went into auto mode, a kind of safe mode when something doesn't go right.

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Dawn Journal: A low-orbit shortcut to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/05/02 02:11 CDT

Marc Rayman's latest Dawn Journal explains why Dawn is currently closer to the Sun than both Ceres and Vesta.

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