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New Rosetta views and first science on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko from EPSC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/11 04:56 CDT | 3 comments

At the European Planetary Science Congress held this week in Portugal, the Rosetta team showcased some early science results from Rosetta's mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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Recovery. Peak. Collapse. Planetary Science from 1990 - 2014

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/11 12:25 CDT | 4 comments

The history of planetary exploration repeats itself starting with a resurgent program in the 90s and 2000s that launched a new fleet of planetary spacecraft. Like our first story, this great success rewarded by deep budget cuts.

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Expedition 40 Crew Returns Safely to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/09/11 11:47 CDT

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev are safely back on Earth following a five-and-a-half month stay aboard the International Space Station.

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Planetary Science Gets Its Day in Congress
Watch our President testify on Sept. 10th

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/09/09 04:45 CDT

Watch Planetary Society President Jim Bell testify before a congressional subcommittee on Wednesday, September 10th.

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So Close and Yet So Far: Why isn't Siding Spring going to sandblast Mars?

Posted by Tony Farnham on 2014/09/09 09:02 CDT | 5 comments

Comet Siding Spring is going to make a very close approach to Mars in October. Any comet dust that reaches Mars has the potential to inflict significant damage on the spacecraft orbiting the planet. As it turns out, however, Mars and its orbiters are likely to see very few, if any, impacts. Why?

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Growth. Peak. Collapse. Planetary exploration from 1959 - 1989

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/09/08 11:24 CDT | 4 comments

The first three decades of planetary exploration tell a story that sounds all-too-familiar to modern day space advocates. Growth, peak, and then collapse of hard-earned capability. This is the story of planetary science for the first half of its existence.

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Pretty pictures: Vesta's dark material

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/05 10:38 CDT | 1 comment

More masterful processing of Dawn Vesta images by Björn Jónsson, including Aelia crater and some mysterious dark splats near Fulvia crater.

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Mars Orbiter Mission to test-fire main engine before orbit insertion
UPDATE: Test firing to take place September 22

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/04 12:59 CDT | 1 comment

According to a report in the Times of India, ISRO is deciding today whether to test-fire Mars Orbiter Mission's main engine to make sure it will work for their all-important orbit insertion maneuver on September 24. Both ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA's MAVEN are in good health and on track for their arrivals in three weeks.

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Latest Rosetta NavCam images reveal jets on Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/04 12:12 CDT | 5 comments

ESA released another set of NavCam images of the comet today, and lo and behold, there are jets! We knew they were there, from an earlier OSIRIS image, but it's tremendously cool to see the comet behaving like a proper comet should.

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Cassini's awesomeness fully funded through mission's dramatic end in 2017

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/03 07:54 CDT | 9 comments

Last year, rumors swirled that NASA may be so pinched for dollars that the agency might end the Cassini mission early. Today, Cassini received the welcome news that it has formally been funded through the planned end of its extended-extended mission in 2017. A huge congratulations to the Cassini mission!

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Curiosity Rover Science Plan Slammed by NASA Review Panel
Planetary science senior review still supports continued funding

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/09/03 01:55 CDT | 19 comments

Senior review recommends continuing all major planetary exploration missions, but not without some changes.

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LightSail Radio Update: New Answers, New Questions

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/09/03 01:47 CDT | 5 comments

Two weeks after radio anomalies scrubbed LightSail's day-in-the-life test, the team continues to close in on the source of the problem.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Suffers Unwanted Computer Reboots, Hunkers Down for Reformat
Sols 3740 - 3769

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/09/03 12:19 CDT

After setting the new off-Earth rover distance record in July, Opportunity roved on in August, driving south along the eastern edge of Endeavour Crater's western rim to Wdowiak Ridge on its journey to the next big destination, Marathon Valley.

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Submit Predictions to Fly in an Asteroid Time Capsule
and Remember to Fly Your Name

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/09/02 07:50 CDT | 1 comment

You have four weeks left (until September 30, 2014) to submit names to send to an asteroid, and now you can also separately submit space exploration predictions or images to send in a time capsule to and from that same asteroid. Both sets of information will fly etched on microchips on board the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.

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Dawn Journal: From HAMO to LAMO and Beyond

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/09/02 06:40 CDT | 10 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on the Dawn mission, its plans from high to low altitude mapping orbits at Ceres, and what the intrepid spacecraft will pursue next.

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ESA invites amateurs to produce portraits of comet 67P

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/01 12:01 CDT

After a pause of about a week in daily image releases from Rosetta, ESA has begun sharing four-image sets of photos of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and invited the public to help produce pretty pictures from them.

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Hayabusa 2 complete, ready to begin its journey to asteroid 1999 JU3

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/31 04:09 CDT | 5 comments

The excitement is building for Hayabusa 2! The spacecraft is now complete and ready to be shipped to its launch site. JAXA unveiled its next interplanetary traveler to the media in a special event on August 31.

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The Pivotal Discovery You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Posted by Karl Battams on 2014/08/29 02:09 CDT | 5 comments

Karl Battams highlights the historic discovery, by an Air Force satellite, of a sungrazing comet.

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise and Fall) of Planetary Exploration Funding
NASA has explored the planets since the 1960s, but funding has rarely been consistent

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/08/29 02:06 CDT | 5 comments

NASA has explored the solar system since the 1960s, but it has rarely been the top priority for the space agency. Jason Callahan breaks down how planetary science has been funded over the years within NASA's larger budget.

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The Birth of the Modern Universe
Review of Alan Hirshfeld's "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe"

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2014/08/29 12:29 CDT | 1 comment

Amir Alexander reviews Alan Hirshfeld's newest book, "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe."

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