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Dawn Journal: Planning for the Ceres Approach Phase

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/01/01 10:43 CST | 4 comments

Now more than halfway through its journey from protoplanet Vesta to dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to use its advanced ion propulsion system to reshape its orbit around the sun. Now that the ship is closer to the uncharted shores ahead than the lands it unveiled astern, we will begin looking at the plans for exploring another alien world.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa 2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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Chang'e 3 update with lots of pictures: Yutu begins lunar journey

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/23 02:54 CST | 9 comments

There was a lot of action on Chang'e 3 over the weekend! I have lots of pictures to share, including the highest-quality one I've seen of the rover on the surface, plus video of the rover making tracks on the Moon and a 3D view of the lander.

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Chang'e 3 and LADEE updates: Yutu active again, LADEE didn't detect landing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/20 06:09 CST | 3 comments

Chinese state television broadcast a display of a Chang'e 3 lander image; the Yutu rover is awake; and LADEE reports a surprising non-detection of the Chang'e 3 landing.

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Curiosity update, sols 465-487: Wheel inspection, software upgrade, Cumberland dump

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/12/19 01:39 CST

Curiosity activities over sols 465 to 487 included monitoring the condition of the wheels; a flight software upgrade; and dumping the Cumberland drill sample. Curiosity put approximately 200 meters on the odometer during this period.

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Chang'e 3 update: 6 instruments active, new fan-produced landing video

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/17 10:51 CST | 28 comments

Today there was a lengthy press briefing by several members of the Chang'e 3 science team. A complete transcript was posted in Chinese. I have run it through two machine translators and found it to be quite informative, not just about the mission but also about attitudes about Chinese space exploration and foreign cooperation. I also have a cool fan-produced video to share.

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Chang'e 3 has successfully landed on the Moon!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/14 08:28 CST | 2 comments

Transmitting images all the way down, China's Chang'e 3 lander successfully arrived on the lunar surface at 13:11:18 -- half an hour before the scheduled landing time. Rover deploy is set for a few hours later.

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Chang'e 3 landing tomorrow 13:40 UT, earlier than previously reported

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/13 11:20 CST | 1 comment

According to numerous Chinese news reports, Chang'e 3's landing on the Moon is now scheduled to begin at 21:40 Beijing time on December 14, which is 13:40 UT or 05:40 PT. That's about two hours earlier than previously stated.

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Quick Chang'e 3 and Mars Orbiter Mission updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/11 11:01 CST | 6 comments

Yesterday Chang'e 3 lowered its orbit periapsis to a mere 15 kilometers, and Mars Orbiter Mission successfully performed a trajectory correction maneuver.

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Dawn Journal: Equidistant from Vesta and Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/12/06 08:31 CST | 1 comment

Gliding smoothly through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn continues to make good progress on its ambitious mission of exploration. It is patiently but persistently pursuing Ceres, the second destination on its interplanetary itinerary.

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Chang'e 3 has arrived in lunar orbit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/06 09:53 CST | 13 comments

Just a quick update: Chang'e 3 successfully entered lunar orbit today at 09:53 UTC, after a 361-second lunar orbit insertion burn.

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Chang'e 3 and LADEE updates -- and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, too, for good measure

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/05 08:40 CST

Chang'e 3 is just about to land on the Moon, and the LADEE orbiter has begun a new science mission there, while Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is still producing amazing images.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Ascends Murray Ridge into Clay Mineral Grounds
Sols 3474 - 3502

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/12/03 03:13 CST | 1 comment

Although winter took hold at Endeavour Crater in November, Opportunity pressed on, climbing up Murray Ridge and driving into a clay mineral hunting ground as the Mars Exploration Rovers mission cruised another month closer to celebrating its 10th Earth year of surface operations with myriad events throughout January 2014.

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Chang'e 3 departs for the Moon, with amazing images and video

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/02 12:18 CST | 3 comments

On December 1 at 17:30 UTC, Chang'e 3 launched atop a Long March 3B rocket on a direct lunar transfer trajectory. It is scheduled to enter orbit December 6 and land December 14. The rocket was equipped with cameras that recorded thrilling video of the launch and final departure of the probe.

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Congratulations due to India: Mars Orbiter Mission is on the way to Mars!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/30 02:51 CST | 35 comments

Today I am delighted to welcome India into the ranks of interplanetary travelers: Mars Orbiter Mission has successfully propelled itself onto an interplanetary trajectory, departing Earth forever and setting sail for Mars. Congratulations to India, to the Indian Space Research Organisation, to the mission's scientists and engineers, and to the people of India.

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Chang'e 3 ready to launch to the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/30 10:05 CST | 5 comments

A brief update on Chang'e 3, which is scheduled for launch December 2 at 01:30 China time, or December 1 at 17:30 UT / 09:30 PT.

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Mars Orbiter Mission ready to fly onward from Earth to Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/30 09:25 CST | 10 comments

Today is the day when India's Mars Orbiter Mission will fire its rocket to depart Earth and begin its 300-day journey to Mars. The rocket burn begins on December 1 at 00:49 IST (today at 19:19 UT / 11:19 PT).

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Chang'e 3 may launch December 1 with Yutu rover, will not harm LADEE mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/27 12:20 CST | 8 comments

Yesterday the Chinese space agency held a press briefing about the Chang'e 3 lunar lander. They announced that the rover has been named Yutu (or "Jade Rabbit," a legendary companion of the goddess Chang'e). Although it will land during the LADEE mission, it will not harm LADEE's goals -- quite the opposite, in fact.

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Curiosity update, sols 453-464: Electrical problem causes delays; rover back to work

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/11/25 02:38 CST | 1 comment

An electrical problem frustrated progress on the Curiosity mission this week, but the problem is now understood and the rover back to work.

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Spaceflight is a Game of Patience

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2013/11/25 01:33 CST

The Principal Investigator of NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission -- planned for launch in 2016 -- begins a new blogging adventure.

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