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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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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Powers Up in Cook Haven and in Fans' Minds
Sols 3590 – 3621

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/04/07 03:05 CDT | 1 comment

At the Solander Point section of the rim of Endeavour Crater, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity spent the month of March just off Murray Ridge working on its final targets in Cook Haven and dusting itself in the winds of winter, while MER mission officials on Earth were roving toward what may be the robot's current greatest potential threat – being cut from NASA's planetary science budget.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3623 – April 3, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/04/06 01:17 CDT

Larry Crumpler gives an update on Opportunity's current location, next long-term target, and excitingly increasing power levels.

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NASA's LADEE Spacecraft to Fly Through an Eclipse, Crash into the Lunar Surface on April 21st
It's end-game for NASA's latest lunar mission

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/04 01:13 CDT | 1 comment

LADEE, NASA's latest robotic lunar spacecraft, will reach its planned end-of-mission on April 21st, when it will crash on the far side of the Moon.

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Dawn Journal: Orbital Trajectories

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/04/01 09:48 CDT | 3 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on Dawn's status and explains how the spacecraft is actually getting closer to Earth at the moment as it moves deeper into the asteroid belt.

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Curiosity update, sols 570-583: Arrival at Kimberley and preparation for an arm workout

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/28 03:00 CDT | 3 comments

Some arm faults caused delays on Curiosity's approach to Kimberley, but the rover is now parked at its north edge, examining the "striated unit" up close with arm-mounted instruments.

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Returning Explorers

Posted by Achim Vollhardt on 2014/03/28 01:25 CDT | 3 comments

ICE has been on a journey for over 30 years around our sun. While the owner has decided not to bring the ship back to its home port, a group of radio amateurs tries to find out how ICE is doing.

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