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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.

OSIRIS-REx Passes EMI/EMC Testing

Dante Lauretta • March 03, 2016

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has completed the Electromagnetic Interference/Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMI/EMC) system level test.

MENCA brings divine wealth from Mars: First science results from the Mars Orbiter Mission

Syed Maqbool Ahmed • March 02, 2016

MENCA (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser) is a quadrupole mass spectrometer onboard India's Mars Orbiter Mission, MOM. A report on measurements of neutral species accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters is the first peer-reviewed scientific result from the mission.

Dawn Journal: Success at Ceres

Marc Rayman • March 01, 2016

More than eight years after leaving Earth behind for an ambitious deep space adventure, the Dawn mission has now collected all of the data originally planned. Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman brings us an update.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • February 29, 2016

Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.

One-year ISS mission draws to a close

Jason Davis • February 25, 2016

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are set to return to Earth next week after their record-breaking, year-long mission aboard the International Space Station.

Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly alert: SpaceX doesn't expect to stick upcoming rocket landing

Jason Davis • February 23, 2016

SpaceX is launching the SES-9 communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. But the company says a successful first stage drone ship landing is "not expected."

Field Report From Mars: Sol 4284 - February 11, 2016

Larry Crumpler • February 11, 2016

Opportunity is continuing to explore the outcrops Marathon Valley, on the west rim of Endeavour crater.

Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Emily Lakdawalla • February 10, 2016

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

SLS CubeSats to Set Sail for Deep Space

Jason Davis • February 10, 2016

When SLS launches Orion to the moon in 2018, a fleet of deep space CubeSats will come along for the ride, including a solar sailing spacecraft similar to LightSail.

HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 3.0

Emily Lakdawalla • February 05, 2016

There have been tons and tons of HiRISE images of the Curiosity landing region, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to find, locate, and catalogue them. This post is a summary of what I've found; after five revisions and updates, it's now version 3.0 of the list.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Turns 12! Embarks on Electric Slide

A.J.S. Rayl • February 04, 2016

On January 24th, the veteran Mars Exploration Rover (MER) wrapped the last day of her 12th year of surface operations on Mars, marking an extraordinary, historic achievement for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission.

Dawn Journal: Measuring Light

Marc Rayman • February 01, 2016

Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman explains some of the measurements the Dawn mission is taking at Ceres, most of which depend on sunlight.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 4270 - January 28, 2016

Larry Crumpler • January 29, 2016

On January 23rd, Opportunity celebrated its 12th anniversary of landing on Mars.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • January 29, 2016

What's going on with our robotic planetary missions? In February I count more than 20 planetary spacecraft exploring six targets beyond Earth or cruising to new destinations.

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