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UPDATED: China successfully launched test mission for Chang'e 5 program today

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/23 09:54 CDT | 2 comments

China launched to the Moon today! The spacecraft will have a brief, 8-day mission, out to the Moon and back. It is an engineering test for the technology that the future Chang'e 5 sample return mission will need to return its precious samples to Earth.

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Status update: All Mars missions fine after Siding Spring flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/20 12:07 CDT | 2 comments

All seven Mars spacecraft are doing perfectly fine after comet Siding Spring's close encounter with Mars.

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Curiosity update, sols 764-781: Work complete at Confidence Hills; puzzling arm issues

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/17 12:53 CDT | 7 comments

Curiosity spent a total of four weeks at Confidence Hills, feeding samples to SAM and CheMin several times. On two weekends during this period, the rover's activities were interrupted by faults with the robotic arm. Curiosity drove away from Confidence Hills on sol 780, and is ready to observe comet Siding Spring over the weekend.

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Finally! New Horizons has a second target

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/15 01:02 CDT | 17 comments

What a huge relief: there is finally a place for New Horizons to visit beyond Pluto. A team of researchers led by John Spencer has discovered three possible targets, all in the Cold Classical part of the Kuiper belt. One is particularly easy to reach. New Horizons would fly past the 30-45-kilometer object in January 2019.

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Field Report from Mars: Sol 3808 — October 10, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/10/15 10:22 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity will become a comet flyby mission beginning in mid-October. The comet Siding Spring will zoom past Mars at a distance of about 135,000 km on October 19.

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Mars Orbiter Mission shifts orbit to take cover from Siding Spring

Posted by Srinivas Laxman on 2014/10/09 11:23 CDT

With only 10 days remaining until the arrival of Comet Siding Spring at Mars, ISRO has shielded the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) from the comet. On Tuesday MOM’s orbit was altered so as to move it behind the Red Planet when the comet arrives. MOM will carry out observations of the comet and its Mars Colour Camera will click images of it.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Gets Extension, Returns Killer Panoramas, and Roves onto Mystery Rocks
Sols 3770 - 3799

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/10/04 10:15 CDT | 1 comments

While the winds of Martian spring blew through Meridiani Planum in September, Opportunity reformatted its Flash memory then continued exploring Wdowiak Ridge on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. Even though the Flash-related issues soon returned, the robot field geologist hardly seemed to notice as it sent home two spectacular panoramas, presented the scientists with a rocky Martian mystery, and delivered yet another September to remember for the mission. And that's not all.

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Mars Orbiter Mission activates all science instruments as NASA, ISRO form joint Mars working group

Posted by Srinivas Laxman on 2014/10/01 11:19 CDT | 1 comments

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) began its science activities fully on Wednesday with all five science instruments being activated. And on Tuesday, an ISRO-NASA Mars working group was formed which will "seek to identify and implement scientific and technological goals that NASA and ISRO have in common regarding Mars exploration."

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Curiosity update, sols 748-763: Driving and Drilling at Pahrump Hills

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/29 05:57 CDT | 10 comments

The biggest news on Curiosity of late is that the rover has drilled her fourth full drill hole on Mars! Drilling happened at a site called "Confidence Hills" on sol 759. But before she did that, she took a long series of amazing photos of rock formations at Jubilee Pass, Panamint Butte, and Upheaval Dome.

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Dawn Journal: 7 Years of Interplanetary Travel

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/09/27 07:43 CDT | 6 comments

Marc Rayman gives us an update on the Dawn mission, heading to Ceres, on the 7th anniversary of its launch.

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Philae's landing day announced as Rosetta swings to comet's dark side

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/26 03:36 CDT | 2 comments

ESA announced today that Philae will be landing on November 12, 2014. What time the landing occurs depends on which landing site they use. If they go to the prime landing site, "site J," Earth should receive word of the successful landing at 16:00 UTC (08:00 PST). If they go to the backup site, "site C," news will reach Earth at about 17:30 UTC (09:30 PST). Mark your calendars!

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Field Report from Mars: Sol 3790 — September 22, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/09/26 11:54 CDT | 4 comments

After a stand-down of activities to reformat its flash memory, Opportunity has re-commenced the long climb up this high and steep segment of the Endeavour crater rim.

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MAVEN returns first images of Mars' atmosphere

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/24 01:24 CDT | 1 comments

On Sepember 22 at 02:24 UTC, Earth received word that MAVEN had ended its orbit insertion burn on time, completing its journey to Mars. Today MAVEN has released some of its very first data, taken by the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph just eight hours after arrival.

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Reflecting on the success of Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/24 11:23 CDT | 13 comments

Mars Orbiter Mission successfully arrived at Mars on September 24, 2014, India's first interplanetary mission. What does this mean for India?

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How I will be watching Mars Orbiter Mission's arrival

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/23 05:04 CDT | 8 comments

Here are a few links to what will hopefully be working video feeds watching India's first-ever attempt to place a spacecraft into orbit around another planet. Begin watching in just a few hours, at 6:15 IST / 00:45 UT / 17:45 PDT for an orbit insertion burn scheduled to begin at 07:30 IST / 04:00 UT / 19:00 PDT!

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Mars Orbiter Mission test firing successful; all ready for orbit insertion

Posted by Srinivas Laxman on 2014/09/22 09:00 CDT | 4 comments

There was celebration in the Mars mission control room in Bangalore on Monday following the success of the crucial four-second test firing of the Mars Orbiter Mission’s (MOM) 440-Newton liquid apogee motor. MOM will now go ahead with the nominal plan for the Mars orbit insertion on September 24 at 07:30 IST (02:00 UT / September 23 19:00 PDT).

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MAVEN orbit insertion timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/21 12:55 CDT | 3 comments

Today's the day that MAVEN enters orbit at Mars, bringing the number of Mars orbiters up to four. So far everything looks good. The orbit insertion burn should begin tonight at 18:50 PDT / 01:50 UTC. I'll be on stage with Mat Kaplan and Rich Zurek at Planetary Radio Live, keeping up to date with the latest news from the spacecraft; here is a timeline in PDT, UTC, CEST, and IST to help you follow along.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: One Mars Express plan becomes two

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/09/17 10:44 CDT | 2 comments

The Mars Express Flight Control Team at ESOC have been actively preparing for the flyby of comet C/2013 A1/Siding Spring on October 19. Initial estimates gave the possibility that Mars Express might be hit by 2 or 3 high-speed particles. Happily, additional observations by ground and space telescopes have shown the risk to be much lower – and perhaps even as low as zero. In today's blog post, the team explain how this (happy!) real-life, real-time development is affecting their preparations for fly-by.

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Mars Orbiter Mission prepares for Mars arrival

Posted by Srinivas Laxman on 2014/09/16 01:12 CDT | 3 comments

The countdown for the crucial and nerve-wracking Mars orbit insertion of India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on September 24 has kicked off. At ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore, the mood among the scientists is right now a mixture of optimism, excitement, and nervous apprehension.

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Mars Orbiter Mission arrival timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/16 01:11 CDT | 15 comments

Mars Orbiter Mission's fated arrival day is approaching fast! Here is the timeline of orbit insertion events, converted from India Standard Time to Universal, European, and Pacific time zones, and corrected for the 12.5 minutes it will take signals to reach Earth from Mars.

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