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What's Up in the Solar System in September 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/31 04:17 CDT | 4 comments

It's an active time in interplanetary exploration! Curiosity has begun roving Mars, and Opportunity's not wasting any time either. Dawn has just departed Vesta and begun the more than two-year cruise to Ceres. Juno is in the middle of a big deep-space maneuver, setting up next year's Earth flyby.

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What's up in the Solar System in August 2012

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/08/03 06:03 CDT

Welcome to the monthly roundup of our solar system's envoy of electronic explorers! All eyes are on Curiosity as it approaches Mars this weekend. Who will lend support at the Red Planet?

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Pretty Panoramas: Opportunity at Whim Creek

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/07/30 01:11 CDT | 2 comments

I know it’s been all Curiosity, all the time on this blog for the last couple of weeks, and that’s not likely to change much for the next couple of weeks. But I don’t want people to forget that there’s another rover exploring Mars’ ancient geology. Opportunity has been taking spectacular photos of Whim Creek and Endeavour Crater this last week.

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Oppy close to the edge…

Posted by Stuart Atkinson on 2012/06/05 10:00 CDT

Since you last visited, Opportunity has continued to drive downhill – well, what passes for ‘downhill’ on Cape York! – and is now not far at all from the northern edge of the Cape. From where she is now she sees the Meridiani desert stretching away to the north and west, the eastern hills on her right, and the Cape itself behind her. And around her? lots and lots of Homestake-like gypsum veins.

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Opportunity is a ROVER again!

Posted by Stuart Atkinson on 2012/05/14 12:42 CDT | 2 comments

After driving off Greeley Haven – where she stood patiently for 19 long weeks – Opportunity is now driving again. Not just turning, not just bumping, but driving.

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An update on Opportunity, and a plea for some volunteer desktop publishing help

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/03 05:00 CDT | 2 comments

A. J. S. Rayl has just posted her monthly update on the goings-on at Meridiani planum, noting that the update recaps the 99th month of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. There's a lot of detail on how the radio-tracking campaign is going. While she's not driving, Opportunity's acting like a lander, with radio antennas on Earth performing Doppler tracking to allow very fine measurement of Mars' orbital motion.

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Pretty picture: A sunset postcard and a special shadow from Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/21 04:31 CST

It took Don Davis many hours of meticulous labor to assemble this beautiful postcard from Mars.

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Dusty girl

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/23 05:32 CST

Today Opportunity sent back to Earth the last few frames of the "deck pan" self-portrait she took during the waning days of 2011. Her solar panels are very dusty, which isn't helpful. It's near winter solstice in her southern location on Mars, so the angled Sun is not providing as much power as it would in a different season.

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Curiosity in context: Not exactly "Viking on wheels," but close

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/21 06:51 CST

As I was beginning my research for my two magazine articles on the Curiosity rover's upcoming mission to Mars, I needed to figure out for myself how exactly this gigantic, ungainly machine fit in to the context of past Martian missions.

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The latest HiRISE view of Opportunity, on Endeavour's rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/24 10:19 CDT

In a now-routine act of obtaining detailed photographs of robots from Earth sitting on the surface of another planet, the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a view of Opportunity sitting on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Wheels on Cape York!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/10 02:09 CDT

Opportunity's wheels are on a whole new different kind of rock: she has arrived at the rim of Endeavour crater, on Cape York.

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Spirit Point and Odyssey crater in sight, and new rock under Opportunity's wheels

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/07 04:26 CDT

Opportunity is at her goal. In this 3D anaglyph, taken on sol 2678 (yesterday, August 6, 2011), Opportunity's wheels are resting on strange lumpy bedrock.

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Mountains rising for Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/31 10:11 CDT

The views from Opportunity of Endeavour's near and distant rim peaks are getting ever more vertical as Opportunity approaches Cape York.

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Opportunity's horizon rises -- and maybe brings Cape York into view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/21 03:12 CDT

For miles and miles of Martian terrain, Opportunity's view forward has contained a distinctive line of hills—the far rim of Endeavour crater.

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In Memory of Spirit, and Why Cuteness Matters

Posted by Melissa Rice on 2011/06/15 02:21 CDT

An analysis of "cuteness," and why it matters when talking about science.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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Welcome to Carnival of Space #191

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/05 11:25 CDT

Welcome, everyone, to the Planetary Society Blog for the 191st Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT

April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.

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LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/03/10 11:11 CST

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

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Endeavour on Opportunity's horizon: Are we there yet?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/02 03:45 CST

Last week the Mars Exploration Rover team dumped another 90 sols' worth of data from Mars into NASA's Planetary Data System, the national repository for space mission data. As I did once before, I dove into this fresh pile of data to pull out Opportunity's color views of the distant rim of Endeavour crater.

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