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[Update 1] Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Destroyed in Testing Accident, 1 Dead, 1 Injured

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/10/31 02:25 CDT | 1 comment

The private spaceflight company's spaceplane was destroyed in an accident over California's Mojave Desert.

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The Art of Planetary Science

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/10/31 11:52 CDT

On October 17-19, 2014, the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory on the University of Arizona campus hosted the second annual Art of Planetary Science exhibition. This exhibition featured works of art inspired by the solar system, alongside works by scientists created from their scientific data.

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A (Difficult) Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/10/30 10:05 CDT | 3 comments

After a bad day on the launch pad, some perspective.

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LightSail Vibration Test Shakes Loose New Problems

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/10/30 02:56 CDT | 2 comments

LightSail's random vibration test, meant to simulate the stress of an Atlas V rocket launch, shook loose new problems that the team will have to address.

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Hayabusa 2 nearly ready for launch: Photos from Tanegashima, and new artist's renderings

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/30 10:15 CDT

On October 27, JAXA provided media with an opportunity to view the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft at the Tanegashima space center, where it's making final preparations for launch. Koumei Shibata was there, and took several photos. And artist Go Miyazaki has shared several terrific new renderings of the spacecraft in flight.

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The Antares Accident: Whose Rocket Was It?
Hint: not NASA's.

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/10/30 01:21 CDT | 7 comments

Despite some in the media declaring it a NASA rocket disaster, Antares represents a new way of doing business. It's owned by a private company providing a service to NASA to resupply the space station. How is this different from other rockets NASA uses?

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[Update 2] Antares Rocket Explodes Seconds after Liftoff

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/10/28 06:13 CDT | 4 comments

An Antares rocket fell back to the launch pad shortly after liftoff, exploding in a fireball that destroyed the vehicle.

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New Planetary Deep Drill Project

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/10/28 12:12 CDT | 1 comment

The Planetary Society has a futuristic new project: the Planetary Deep Drill with Honeybee Robotics to develop a prototype of a drill that could allow drilling hundreds of meters to even kilometers through planetary ices.

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Chang'e 5 T1 rounds the lunar farside, returns lovely photo of Earth and the Moon together

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/28 11:15 CDT | 3 comments

The Chang'e 5 test vehicle's short mission is more than half over. It has rounded the far side of the Moon and is on its way back to Earth for a planned October 31 test of lunar sample return technology. It's not a science mission -- it's an engineering mission -- but it has managed to return an absolutely iconic photo of its distant home, seen across the very unfamiliar far side of the Moon.

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When Nixon Stopped Human Exploration

Posted by John M. Logsdon on 2014/10/28 07:38 CDT | 3 comments

Society Board Member John Logsdon describes how the decisions made by Richard Nixon in late 1969 and early 1970 effectively ended human exploration beyond Earth orbit for the indefinite future.

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A feast of comet features from Rosetta at Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/27 09:22 CDT | 18 comments

I have been horribly behind in posting images from Rosetta's exploration of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and that's a shame, because the spacecraft has lately been exploring the comet from a range of only 10 kilometers. From that range, the NavCam gets sub-meter resolution, and we're seeing a menagerie of odd surface features

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Rosetta NAVCAM's Shades of Grey

Posted by Claudia Mignone on 2014/10/27 09:51 CDT | 1 comment

What do “light” and “dark” mean for an object like Comet 67P/C-G? Here are some details on how Rosetta's NAVCAM images are taken and displayed to make a wide range of surface features possible.

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Surveyor Digitization Project Will Bring Thousands of Unseen Lunar Images to Light

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/10/24 02:03 CDT | 2 comments

A team of scientists at the University of Arizona plan to digitize 87,000 vintage images from the surface of the moon, of which less than two percent have ever been seen.

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GSA 2014: The puzzle of Gale crater's basaltic sedimentary rocks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/23 07:31 CDT | 14 comments

At the Geological Society of America conference this week, Curiosity scientists dug into the geology of Gale crater and shared puzzling results about the nature of the rocks that the rover has found there.

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UPDATED: China successfully launched test mission for Chang'e 5 program today

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/23 09:54 CDT | 2 comments

China launched to the Moon today! The spacecraft will have a brief, 8-day mission, out to the Moon and back. It is an engineering test for the technology that the future Chang'e 5 sample return mission will need to return its precious samples to Earth.

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Herschel observations of Comet Siding Spring initiated by an amateur astronomer

Posted by Peter Mattisson on 2014/10/22 11:26 CDT | 4 comments

The European satellite Herschel acquired images of Comet Siding Spring before its death in 2013 — thanks to an observing proposal from an amateur astronomer!

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When Good Rockets Go Bad: Orion's Launch Abort System

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/10/20 01:30 CDT | 8 comments

One of the tricky parts of launching humans into space is deciding what to do if something goes wrong. And that's where Orion's Launch Abort System comes in.

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Status update: All Mars missions fine after Siding Spring flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/20 12:07 CDT | 2 comments

All seven Mars spacecraft are doing perfectly fine after comet Siding Spring's close encounter with Mars.

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Collaboration Between OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa-2

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/10/20 10:35 CDT | 1 comment

The University of Arizona (UA) hosted representatives of the Hayabusa-2 asteroid sample return mission to explore opportunities for collaboration with the OSIRIS-REx team.

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Watching Siding Spring's encounter with Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/17 04:11 CDT | 5 comments

The nucleus of comet Siding Spring passes close by Mars on Sunday, October 19, at 18:27 UTC. Here are links to webcasts and websites that should have updates throughout the encounter.

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