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2015 will be the Year of the Dwarf Planet, and you need to tell people about it!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/05 07:00 CST | 10 comments

I am very excited about 2015, more so than I have been about any year since I started working at The Planetary Society. Dawn will enter orbit at Ceres, and New Horizons, which will fly past Pluto and Charon. But if we want this kind of exploration to continue, I'm challenging you, dear readers, to tell the world why such non-planetary worlds are compelling places to go exploring.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Cruises Through Winter Solstice, Into Year 11
Sols 3564 - 3590

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/03/05 01:32 CST

The Mars Exploration Rover mission put its 10th anniversary in the rear view mirror in February and roved on into its 11th year of surface operations at Endeavour Crater.

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NASA Wants to Explore Europa On the Cheap
Will science suffer with this arbitrary cost-cap?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/03/05 11:49 CST | 11 comments

NASA announced today that their Europa mission concept studies will be for a sub-$1 billion spacecraft, a lower level than previously imagined for a mission to this watery moon.

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Checking in on Chang'e 3 and Yutu from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Yep, still there!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/04 01:08 CST

Seeing hardware that was built by human hands sitting on the surface of another planet never, ever gets old. Today, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released two new images of Chang'e 3 and Yutu on the Moon.

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A new map of Mars from some pretty old data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/04 11:46 CST | 3 comments

The United States Geological Survey recently issued an improved version of the Viking color map of Mars. This 40-year-old data set still provides the prettiest global-scale map of the planet.

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Space is really, really big – except sometimes it isn’t

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/04 11:19 CST

Here's the next installment in the continuing story of how the Mars Express team is preparing for Comet Siding Spring flyby, 19 October 2014. This week: introducing the spacecraft's subsystems and structure – and wondering how we can absorb impacts.

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Eyes and stopwatch are all that are needed to help measure an invisible asteroid

Posted by Ted Blank on 2014/03/03 01:04 CST | 1 comment

Would you like to be part of one of the largest citizen-science efforts in the history of astronomy? The International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) invites you to join in the campaign to observe and time the best and brightest asteroid occultation ever predicted to occur over a populated area – and no telescope is required!

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Brief Yutu update: Slightly more detail on what's keeping rover from roving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/03 12:13 CST | 4 comments

Over the weekend, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported in both Chinese and English a little bit more information on what has stilled the Yutu rover's motions across the lunar surface: "a control circuit malfunction in its driving unit."

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Dawn Journal: Maneuvering Around Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/03/03 06:00 CST | 2 comments

Continuing its daring mission to explore some of the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system, Dawn remains on course and on schedule for its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres next year.

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Pounding the Pavement in Congress, Together
The Space Exploration Alliance's Legislative Blitz Advocates for Space Exploration

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/03/01 12:38 CST | 1 comment

A coalition of grassroots pro-space advocates descended on Washington, D.C. this week, and held over 100 meetings with representatives and staff throughout Congress to argue for increased investment in NASA.

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Intro Astronomy Class 4: Eclipses, Mercury, Venus-Earth-Mars Atmospheres, Venus

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/28 01:30 CST

This video of class 4 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class discusses eclipses, Mercury, Venus, and a comparison of the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: Why orienting Mars Express is the heart of the challenge

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/02/28 12:25 CST

Today's post continues where we started last week with an update from the Mars Express Flight Control Team at ESOC on their preparations for the 19 October Comet Siding Springs flyby. Today: defining the challenge!

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Reflecting on NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission, launching today

Posted by J. Marshall Shepherd on 2014/02/27 11:31 CST | 2 comments

Former deputy project scientist and current science team member J. Marshall Shepherd tells us why missions like NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) are vital to our way of life.

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Pretty pictures of terraced craters on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/27 10:16 CST | 3 comments

Check out this unusual crater on Mars. It's not a very big one, less than 500 meters in diameter, and yet it has two rings. Most craters on Mars this size are simple bowl shapes. What's going on here?

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Mars Express team readies for Siding Spring

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/02/26 01:31 CST | 3 comments

On Sunday, 19 October 2014, at around 18:30 UTC, comet C/2013 A1 – known widely as 'Siding Spring' after the Australian observatory where it was discovered in January 2013 – will make a close fly-by of Mars.

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A little fun with Cassini rings images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/25 06:51 CST | 7 comments

It's happened again; I went into the Cassini image archive looking for something specific and wound up spending several hours playing with totally unrelated image data. Here are several beautiful images of the rings from the archives.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3572 – February 10, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 12:49 CST | 5 comments

Opportunity is still exploring an outcrop high up on Murray Ridge as the winter solstice on Mars approaches. At this location the tilts are good, so Opportunity is getting excellent solar input on its solar panels.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3556 – January 24, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 12:18 CST

Today is the tenth anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Mars. Here at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, we just opened a tenth anniversary exhibit.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3519 - December 18, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 11:55 CST

Opportunity arrived at the location that has been the target of all this climbing since late last (Earth) summer. We will settle in for some detailed work on the outcrop here since this appears to be something different from the impact breccias that we have been seeing along the ridge crest.

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Sunset on Chang'e 3's third lunar day: Yutu not dead yet, but not moving either

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/24 12:38 CST | 4 comments

During the third lunar day of Change'3 surface operations the lander operated normally, performing ultraviolet astronomy and imaging Earth's plasmasphere. The rover's instruments were working, but the rover did not move.

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