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Chang'e 3 update: Rocket shipped to launch site; ten possible rover names announced

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/28 12:45 CDT | 5 comments

China's Chang'e 3 lunar soft lander and rover are proceeding toward a planned December launch. The Long March-3B rocket departed Beijing for the Xichang launch facility yesterday, and is expected to arrive November 1. Meanwhile, 190,000 contest entries have been winnowed to a list of ten possible names for the rover.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3467 - October 24, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/10/28 08:16 CDT | 1 comment

On sol 3451 Opportunity began its climb of Solander Point. This is the highest “mountain” that Opportunity has tried to climb yet.

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Curiosity update: Roving through the shutdown toward Waypoint 2, sols 388-432

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/10/23 02:57 CDT | 1 comment

After a brief science stop at Darwin (formerly known as Waypoint 1), Curiosity has driven hundreds of meters toward Mount Sharp. Autumn has come to Curiosity's southern hemisphere location, bringing lower temperatures. That means more power is required to heat rover actuators, leaving less power for science along the drive.

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India's Mars Orbiter Mission now set for November 5 launch date

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/22 01:01 CDT | 7 comments

The launch of ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission has been delayed by about a week due to bad weather in the Indian Ocean. The new launch date is November 5 at 14:36 IST (09:06 UTC / 01:06 PST). Their launch opportunity stretches to November 19.

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Juno is in Safe Mode again, but still okay
All Earth flyby data on the ground, including JunoCam images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/16 06:59 CDT | 6 comments

After entering safe mode last week during its Earth flyby, Juno returned to normal operations and downlinked all engineering and science instrument data. It entered safe mode again on Sunday night, but it is expected to re-resume normal operations late next week.

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Curiosity: still roving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/15 11:33 CDT | 2 comments

Every day, I get a question from somebody about whether Curiosity has been shut down. It hasn't, and here's the thing: you can determine that for yourself

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Juno is in safe mode, but okay and on course following Earth flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/09 05:56 CDT | 5 comments

Following its Earth flyby earlier today, Juno is in safe mode. This is the protective state a spacecraft goes into when it detects a problem. But everything is okay. For more details, I just spoke with Rick Nybakken, Juno Project Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Juno Flies By Earth Today
Closest approach at 12:21pm PDT / 19:21 UTC

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/09 12:17 CDT | 2 comments

NASA's Juno spacecraft gets a gravity assist from the Earth on its way to Jupiter today. Learn all about today's close approach.

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Juno's flying by Earth today, and images of the Moon are already on the ground!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/09 11:25 CDT | 1 comment

Juno flies past Earth for a gravity assist at 19:22 UTC today, and the first images from the encounter are already on the ground and processed by amateurs!

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Roves to Solander West, into Winter Campground
Sols 3415 - 3444

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2013/10/07 07:06 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission stepped up preparations for the coming Martian winter in September as Opportunity rounded the northern tip of Solander Point and drove into what will be her campground at Endeavour Crater for the next six months or so. It's been nearly a year in the planning. Now, from the rover's first look around, this winter could turn out to be one for the books.

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Congratulations to LADEE on arrival at the Moon!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/06 08:33 CDT | 2 comments

After a one-month journey from Earth to the Moon, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) safely entered orbit at 10:57 UTC today, October 6.

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Photos: India's Mars Orbiter Mission arrives at launch site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/05 02:39 CDT | 1 comment

ISRO posted five photos from the momentous day of the Mars Orbiter Mission's shipment to Sriharikota.

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NASA's MAVEN Mission Spared from Shutdown
Launch preparations will resume

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/03 04:40 CDT | 7 comments

Launch preparations will resume for NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch to Mars on November 18th. Work had previously been suspended, potentially causing the spacecraft to miss its once-every-26-month launch opportunity.

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Yes, there seems to be a hole in Curiosity's left front wheel, and no, that's not a problem

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/02 11:22 CDT | 27 comments

Some brand-new images just arrived from Curiosity on Mars, and two of the most recent are Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) images of the wheels. Today's images contained two little surprises.

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LADEE has finally left Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/02 02:39 CDT | 2 comments

When LADEE launched on September 6, it launched into Earth orbit. Today, it is finally on a path that will take it to its October 6 lunar orbit insertion. Its operation is continuing normally in the face of the U.S. government's shutdown yesterday, as is that of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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On Gandhi's birthday, India ships Mars spacecraft to launch site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/02 11:45 CDT

Several Indian news sites posted a press wire article this morning indicating that India's Mars Orbiter Mission departed its assembly and testing facility in Bangalore today and is now on the way to the coastal launch site, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, a journey of about 400 kilometers.

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American government shut down, but JPL and APL planetary missions still operating -- for now

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/01 11:31 CDT | 6 comments

I spoke with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Veronica McGregor and the Applied Physics Laboratory's Geoff Brown this morning to get accurate information about the operation of NASA planetary missions. In brief: All of NASA's missions that are operated out of JPL and APL are continuing to operate normally today and for at least a week.

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[Updated] A Government Shutdown Could Delay MAVEN's Launch to Mars

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/30 05:17 CDT | 2 comments

NASA confirmed that a government shutdown could affect pre-launch processing of the MAVEN spacecraft, currently scheduled to launch to Mars on November 18th.

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Dawn Journal: Sixth anniversary of leaving Earth

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/09/28 06:29 CDT | 2 comments

On the sixth anniversary of leaving Earth to embark on a daring deep-space expedition, Dawn is very, very far from its erstwhile planetary residence. Now humankind's only permanent resident of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the seasoned explorer is making good progress toward the largest object in that part of the solar system, the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres.

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Europe Will Select Its Next Major Science Mission in November

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/09/25 01:22 CDT | 2 comments

The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.

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