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Blog Archive

 

Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: The Eye of Sauron

Adam Block • May 18, 2016

Astrophotographer Adam Block shares his latest image, this time of a menacing spiral galaxy.

ExoMars Rover Seeks Exit From Dire Straits

Anatoly Zak • May 17, 2016

The European Space Agency and Roskosmos have admitted the inevitable—the launch of the joint ExoMars-2018 project will have to be postponed for two years to 2020.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 4365 - May 5, 2016

Larry Crumpler • May 13, 2016

Opportunity arrived at its current location on sol 4345 to begin investigation of an outcrop on the crest of a ridge near the west end of Marathon Valley.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Sleuths New Site for Smectites

A.J.S. Rayl • May 10, 2016

Opportunity and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) team pressed on through the Martian winter and spent April sleuthing for clay minerals at the mission’s new site on the southern wall of Marathon Valley.

Dawn Journal: A New Angle on Ceres

Marc Rayman • May 04, 2016

Since April 11, instead of photographing the scenery directly beneath it, Dawn has been aiming its camera to the left and forward as it orbits and Ceres rotates to map more of the dwarf planet.

What's up in the solar system, May 2016 edition: Good news in cruise for Juno and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Emily Lakdawalla • May 03, 2016

May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 4333 - April 1, 2016

Larry Crumpler • April 26, 2016

Opportunity has climbed west and up Marathon Valley in one of the final campaigns before moving on and beginning the summer field activities to the south southward.

Quick Curiosity update, sol 1320: "Lubango," the 10th drill site on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • April 25, 2016

Curiosity has drilled into Mars for the 10th time at a site named Lubango, on sol 1320 (April 23, 2016). Lubango is in a bright-toned halo around a crack in the Stimson sandstone unit on the western edge of the Naukluft Plateau.

Curiosity update, sols 1250-1310: Across the Naukluft Plateau

Emily Lakdawalla • April 13, 2016

Curiosity has driven onward from Namib dune across a highstanding unit of rock called the Naukluft Plateau. Despite some frustrating sols lost to a short circuit in the RTG and DSN troubles, the rover has made progress, and performed lots of 3D imaging of weirdly wind-eroded rocks.

Follow along: SpaceX CRS-8 launch and landing

Jason Davis • April 08, 2016

Follow along with The Planetary Society as SpaceX launches a Dragon spacecraft to the ISS and attempts to land a used booster rocket on a drone ship in the ocean. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:43 p.m. EDT (20:43 UTC).

What's up in solar system exploration: April 2016 edition

Emily Lakdawalla • April 04, 2016

This month (actually, today), Cassini had a relatively close flyby of Titan, and New Horizons will observe a very distant Kuiper belt object named 1994 JR1. Akatsuki has just fine-tuned its orbit around Venus, and Hayabusa2 has begun an 800-hour ion engine thrusting phase to steer it toward near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Soldiers through Martian March Madness

A.J.S. Rayl • April 04, 2016

As March Madness on Earth sent sports fans into their annual kinetic frenzy watching more than 60 American teams battle it out for college basketball’s grandest title, Opportunity was experiencing her own Martian brand of March Madness.

Dawn Journal: Sharper Views of Ceres

Marc Rayman • April 01, 2016

One year after taking up its new residence in the solar system, Dawn is continuing to witness extraordinary sights on dwarf planet Ceres. Mission Director Marc Rayman brings us his monthly update on Dawn's status.

Tonight's Cygnus launch kicks off three ISS cargo runs in three weeks

Jason Davis • March 22, 2016

Just days after receiving three new crew members, the ISS is about to become a veritable shipping hub, as three cargo ships launch to the orbital laboratory in as little as three weeks.

ExoMars launch successful! What to expect for the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli missions

Emily Lakdawalla • March 14, 2016

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are safely on their way to Mars! The two lifted off at 9:31 UTC today, March 14, 2016. Orbiter and lander will arrive at Mars on October 19 at approximately 16:00 UTC. The lander is expected to last about 3 days. The orbiter will spend a year aerobraking before beginning its science mission.

ExoMars: Prepare for launch!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 10, 2016

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are in the final preparations for a launch as early as Monday, toward an October 2016 Mars orbit insertion and landing in Meridiani Planum. Launch on a Proton rocket is expected at 09:31:42 UT Monday, March 14. A Breeze-M upper stage will send the spacecraft on to Mars, with separation at 20:13 UT.

InSight has a new launch date: May 5, 2018

Emily Lakdawalla • March 09, 2016

NASA has decided to move forward with the InSight mission after its delay last December, setting a new launch date of May 5, 2018. That will put the landing on Mars on November 26, 2018. In order to launch in two years, one of its two science instruments must be redesigned.

SpaceX drops satellite into high orbit but misses difficult booster landing

Jason Davis • March 04, 2016

SpaceX overcame high propellant temperatures, a boat too close to the launch pad, and pesky weather to launch a communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit this evening.

Continuing the Hunt for Exoplanets

Meg Schwamb • March 04, 2016

Meg Schwamb highlights some of the upcoming space-based missions that will search for planets beyond our solar system.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Scales Knudsen Ridge and Rocks On

A.J.S. Rayl • March 03, 2016

As the Martian winter slowly begins to recede, Opportunity is working away on the steep slopes of Knudsen Ridge at the southern end of Marathon Valley, showing her mettle in some of the most challenging terrain of the rover’s 12+ years on the Red Planet.

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