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Blog Archive


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 Hayabusa2, 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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Russian Resupply Ship Spins Out Of Control after Reaching Orbit

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/28 01:37 CDT | 1 comments

An International Space Station-bound cargo craft is spinning out of control in Earth orbit following an afternoon launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Rosetta update: Two close flybys of an increasingly active comet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/21 03:07 CDT | 6 comments

In the two months since I last checked up on the Rosetta mission, the comet has heated up, displaying more and more jet activity. Rosetta completed very close flybys on February 14 and March 28, taking amazing photos. But comet dust is making navigation difficult, so the mission is now keeping a respectful distance from the comet and replanning its future path.

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Development of the OSIRIS-REx Sampling System: TAGSAM and the SRC

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/04/21 04:55 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx team has been busy assembling and testing the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and the Sample Return Capsule (SRC).

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Dragon Launches to Station, but Falcon Doesn't Stick Landing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/14 03:53 CDT | 5 comments

SpaceX's ISS-bound Dragon spacecraft is in orbit, but the drone ship landing of the company's Falcon 9 rocket was unsuccessful.

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PROCYON update: Asteroid 2000 DP107 target selected, ion engine stopped

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/13 12:15 CDT | 3 comments

PROCYON (PRoximate Object Close flYby with Optical Navigation) is a microsatellite that launched on December 3 as a secondary payload with Hayabusa2. The mission has now selected their asteroid flyby target -- a binary asteroid named 2000 DP107 -- but is reporting a problem with their ion engines.

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LightSail Launch Delayed until at least May 20

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/13 10:40 CDT

The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft will have to wait at least two more weeks before setting sail on its maiden voyage.

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Curiosity update, sols 896-949: Telegraph Peak, Garden City, and concern about the drill

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/10 07:37 CDT | 1 comments

Since I last wrote about Curiosity drilling at Pink Cliffs, the rover has visited and studied two major sites, drilling at one of them. It has also suffered a short in the drill percussion mechanism that presents serious enough risk to warrant a moratorium on drill use until engineers develop a plan to continue to operate it safely.

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To Recover First Stage, Just Read the Instructions

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/10 04:01 CDT | 2 comments

SpaceX is gearing up for a second attempt to land the spent first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

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