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Chang'e 3 proceeding toward December 1 launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/28 11:02 CDT | 2 comments

News agencies are reporting that China's soft lunar lander and rover, Chang'e 3, has passed its final critical reviews and is now proceeding toward launch.

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New Horizons: Late in Cruise, and a Binary Ahoy

Posted by Alan Stern on 2013/08/24 09:16 CDT | 2 comments

New Horizons has just completed a summer of intensive activities and entered hibernation on Aug. 20. The routine parts of the activities included thorough checkouts of all our backup systems (result: they work fine!) and of all our scientific instruments (they work fine too!).

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Updates on Curiosity from Ken Herkenhoff: Embarking for Mount Sharp (sols 326-372)

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/08/23 12:07 CDT | 1 comments

United States Geological Survey scientist Ken Herkenhoff posts regular updates on the Curiosity science team's plans for the rover on Mars.

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LADEE prepares for launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/22 07:02 CDT | 3 comments

LADEE's launch window opens two weeks from today, on September 6. The brief little mission aims to study the lunar atmosphere and dust environment before future soft landings disturb its currently pristine state.

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Photo gallery: MAVEN being prepped for launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/21 04:56 CDT | 2 comments

Watching MAVEN go through its final launch preparations via the photo gallery at the Kennedy Media Archive.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3397 - August 13, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/08/18 11:06 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity arrived at the base of the next segment of the Endeavour crater rim and is now investigating the contact.

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SMAP Under Construction: Field trip to the Spacecraft Assembly Facility

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/14 04:53 CDT | 2 comments

Yesterday I enjoyed my second-ever opportunity to suit up and enter the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On display were SMAP, an Earth orbiting radar mission, and ISS-RapidScat, which will perform a different radar experiment from the Space Station.

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Interplanetary eyes on the lookout for comet ISON

Posted by Daniel Fischer on 2013/08/09 02:15 CDT

Space blogger Daniel Fischer provides a preview of the exciting interplanetary observing campaign that has recently begun to study comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) from vantage points across the solar system.

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Curiosity's first year on Mars: Where's the science?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/07 02:53 CDT | 31 comments

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Curiosity's landing on Mars, and there was much rejoicing. It's been fun to look back at that exciting day, and it's been an opportunity to reflect on what Curiosity has accomplished in her first year. What science do we have to show for it?

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3385 - August 2, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/08/06 06:54 CDT

This week Opportunity finished up a quick investigation of the strange rocky terrain out here in the plains where it is approaching the next mountain rim segment of Endeavour crater, Solander Point.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Celebrates Milestones, Arrives at Solander Suburb
Sols 3355 - 3384

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/08/05 03:44 CDT | 1 comments

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission Opportunity celebrated the 10th anniversary of its launch on July 7, 2003, and then went on to complete the last leg of its 2 km trek from Cape York to Solander Point. But just before the robot field geologist pulled onto the actual base of the ridge where it will spend its sixth Martian winter, Mars lured the team off the path with some of the weirdest Martian rocks the scientists have seen yet.

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Keeping up with Curiosity, almost a year after landing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/01 06:16 CDT | 4 comments

It seems like my attention wandered for just a moment, and all of a sudden Curiosity is really on the road. She's racked up drive after drive, methodically eating up the terrain between here and her goal: the ancient rocks at the foot of Mount Sharp.

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Dawn Journal: Craving Power

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/30 01:12 CDT | 5 comments

Ion propulsion is not a source of power for Dawn. Rather, the craft needs a great deal of power to operate its ion propulsion system and all other systems. It needs so much that...we crave power!!

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The road to Mars: updates on NASA's MAVEN and India's Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/29 08:00 CDT | 4 comments

The 2013 launch window for Mars is fast approaching. November represents the next chance to send spacecraft to the Red Planet; the next window doesn't open until early 2016. So NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are working hard to prepare their respective Mars missions for launch.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3378 - July 25, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/26 12:32 CDT

We are now only about 180 meters from the new mountain, Solander Point. We slowed down this week so that we could check out the rocks here where there is a strange hydration signature from orbital remote sensing.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3363 - July 10, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/18 01:41 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity is only a couple of hundred meters out and closing fast on the next mountain. A short side trip east is in the works to check out an anomaly in the terrain.

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A new HiRISE view of Opportunity (sol 3361)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/17 06:14 CDT

The HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has snapped a lovely color photo of the rim of Endeavour crater, catching Opportunity midway between Nobby's Head and Solander Point.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3355 - July 2, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/08 06:04 CDT

By Sol 3325 Opportunity has driven up onto the next "island" of rock, "Sutherland Point" and "Nobbys Head." On this sol Opportunity is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Mission Update: Opportunity Continues Sprint to Solander Point
Sols 3325 - 3354

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/07/04 04:04 CDT | 1 comments

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission celebrated its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth in June, as Opportunity continued the sprint to its next winter haven at Endeavour Crater.

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Dawn Journal: Breaking Velocity Records

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/02 10:26 CDT | 7 comments

The indefatigable Dawn spacecraft is continuing its extraordinary interplanetary flight on behalf of inquisitive creatures on distant Earth. Progressing ever farther from Vesta, the rocky and rugged world it so recently explored, the ship is making good progress toward its second port of call, dwarf planet Ceres.

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