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Blog Archive


Deployment! LightSail Boom Motor Whirrs to Life

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/07 04:20 CDT | 15 comments

LightSail's tiny solar sail deployment motor sprung to life Sunday afternoon, marking an important milestone for The Planetary Society’s nail-biting test mission.

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LightSail Drama Continues as Spacecraft Wakes for Second Time

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/06 04:45 CDT | 6 comments

LightSail is back in business, following the second extended outage of the test spacecraft’s mission. The CubeSat checked in at 2:21 p.m. EDT Saturday.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Tours Spirit of St. Louis Crater
Sols 4006 - 4035

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/06/03 07:21 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity spent a mostly merry month of May on Mars touring Spirit of St. Louis Crater, stopping at science targets named in honor of Charles Lindbergh and the incredible flight he took 88 years ago.

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LightSail Team Prepares for Sail Deployment

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/30 11:08 CDT | 8 comments

LightSail is almost ready for its moment in the sun. Mission managers are preparing for a manual solar sail deployment this week.

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Contact! LightSail Phones Home after 8-Day Silence

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/30 11:08 CDT | 12 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail test spacecraft reported for duty this afternoon, heralding the end of an uneasy silence caused by a suspected software glitch.

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Dawn Journal: Spiralling Closer to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/05/29 07:32 CDT | 6 comments

Dawn's Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update as the spacecraft's orbit takes it even closer to the dwarf planet Ceres.

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Four mission assembly progress reports: ExoMars TGO, InSight, OSIRIS-REx, and BepiColombo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/28 06:12 CDT | 4 comments

2015 has seen few deep-space-craft launches, but 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year with three launches, followed quickly by a fourth in early 2017. All of the missions under development have reported significant milestones recently.

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Software Glitch Pauses LightSail Test Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/26 04:35 CDT | 38 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail test mission has been paused while engineers wait out a suspected software glitch that has silenced the solar sailing spacecraft.

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Here Are the Science Instruments NASA Will Use to Explore Europa

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/05/26 01:01 CDT | 8 comments

NASA just announced the science instruments that will be used to understand the enigmatic ocean moon of Europa. The mission is planned to launch sometime in the early 2020s.

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LightSail Update: All Systems Nominal

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/21 02:33 CDT | 4 comments

It's been 24 hours since The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft was deposited into space yesterday afternoon. All systems continue to look healthy.

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LightSail Sends First Data Back to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/20 06:19 CDT | 10 comments

LightSail is sending home telemetry following a Wednesday commute to orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket.

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Two Months from Pluto!

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/05/19 06:12 CDT | 5 comments

Two months. Eight and half weeks. 58 days. It's a concept almost too difficult to grasp: we are on Pluto's doorstep.

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Timeline: LightSail's First Day in Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/19 04:01 CDT | 1 comments

It's the day before launch at Cape Canaveral. Here's a timeline of events for LightSail's first day in space.

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Due to ion engine failure, PROCYON will not fly by an asteroid

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/08 04:23 CDT | 2 comments

PROCYON, the mini-satellite launched with Hayabusa 2, will not be able to achieve its planned asteroid flyby due to the failure of its ion engine.

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Curiosity update, sols 949-976: Scenic road trip and a diversion to Logan's Run

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/06 06:04 CDT | 4 comments

Curiosity is finally on the road again! And she's never taken a more scenic route than this. Her path to Mount Sharp is taking her to the west and south, across sandy swales between rocky rises.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Logs Sol 4000, Digs Spirit of St. Louis Crater
Sols 3877 - 4004

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/05/05 09:20 CDT | 2 comments

After investigating some flat, light and dark toned rocks around Spirit of St. Louis Crater in April, Opportunity chalked up another milestone achievement – the 4000th sol or Martian day of surface operations.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Special Update: MERathon Celebrates Opportunity's Marathon

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/05/01 10:06 CDT

MER mission ops team members joined other engineers and scientists, some who previously worked on the MER mission, to take on the challenge of a relay marathon to celebrate Opportunity's milestone achievement.

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Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/01 06:55 CDT | 5 comments

There is one less robot exploring the solar system today. MESSENGER, which has orbited Mercury for four years, finally ran out of fuel and crashed into the planet at 17:26 UT on Thursday, April 30, 2015.

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Dawn Journal: Getting Down to Science at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/05/01 03:02 CDT | 14 comments

Dawn Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman gives a status update on the mission, having finally arrived at dwarf planet Ceres.

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ISS-bound Cargo Spacecraft Doomed to Atmospheric Reentry

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/29 01:09 CDT | 2 comments

The six crew members aboard the International Space Station will have to go without a scheduled delivery of food, supplies and fuel.

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