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Blog Archive

 

Transient hot spots on Venus: Best evidence yet for active volcanism

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/18 06:42 CDT | 3 comments

In a paper released in Geophysical Research Letters today, Eugene Shalygin and coauthors have announced the best evidence yet for current, active volcanism on Venus. The evidence comes from the Venus Monitoring Camera, which saw transient hot spots in four locations along a system of rifts near Venus' equator. They saw the hot spots in two distinct episodes in 2008 and 2009.

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Philae is awake! What's next for the comet lander's scientific mission?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/17 05:16 CDT | 5 comments

I woke up early Sunday morning to the dramatic news: Philae is back! With a few days to consider the telemetry, the Philae team is now talking about the science they hope to do. With comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko approaching perihelion in August, it's going to be an exciting ride.

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Pluto and Charon spin among the stars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/16 08:10 CDT | 7 comments

I've spent a happy couple of days playing with raw data downloaded from the New Horizons website, making animations of the dances of Pluto and Charon.

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Welcome home, AstroSamantha

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/15 09:41 CDT | 2 comments

Three astronauts have returned to Earth, and while I'm happy that they landed safely, I'm very sad that astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is not in space anymore to wish us "buona notte dallo spazio" with her lovely photos and piquant comments.

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LightSail Test Mission Ends with Fiery Reentry

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/15 02:09 CDT | 7 comments

The LightSail test mission is officially over. Following a 25-day stay in low-Earth orbit, the spacecraft tumbled back into Earth’s atmosphere Sunday afternoon.

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Tonight I Glimpsed LightSail

Posted by Bill Nye on 2015/06/14 03:05 CDT | 5 comments

Tonight, for the first time, I glimpsed our spacecraft with my own eyes. It was just the faintest pinprick against the bright lights of the big city. But, there it was right on time and exactly per the coordinates.

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In Pictures: LightSail’s Final Days in Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/12 03:30 CDT | 7 comments

LightSail’s brief stay in orbit is almost over. Here are a few photos and videos of the spacecraft from observers around the world.

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Field Report from Mars: Sol 4039 - June 4, 2015
Two Week Period of Solar Conjunction Begins

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2015/06/12 08:15 CDT

Larry Crumpler gives an update on the Opportunity rover and plans for its upcoming journey after solar conjunction.

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Telling Pluto’s Story, One Fragment at a Time

Posted by Mark Showalter on 2015/06/11 04:29 CDT | 2 comments

Mark Showalter explains how determining basic information about Pluto's small moons—Kerberos and Styx—is more complicated than initially thought.

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Pretty (Partial) Picture: LightSail Catches a Glimpse of Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/10 10:00 CDT | 3 comments

With the team still trying to download an image from LightSail's second camera, Emily Lakdawalla processed a partial image from the first camera that contains a slice of Earth.

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Curiosity update, sols 978-1011: Into Marias Pass; ChemCam back in action; solar conjunction

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/10 07:26 CDT | 6 comments

It’s been an eventful few weeks for Curiosity on Mars. From sols 981 to 986, Curiosity’s human pilots tried and failed to drive the rover southward; but, retracing their steps to Logan's Run, they quickly found a way up and into a beautiful geological amphitheater named Marias Pass, where they will stay throughout Mars solar conjunction. They also returned ChemCam to normal operations.

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NASA Goes First Class for Europa

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/06/10 12:07 CDT | 9 comments

Over the last several years, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory have rethought the entire approach to exploring Europa. NASA now has a concept that's affordable.

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An enigmatic line across Pluto: Plutonian canali!?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/09 07:03 CDT | 17 comments

Pluto and Charon are growing larger in New Horizons' forward view, beginning to develop distinct personalities. A version of recent New Horizons photos processed by Björn Jónsson reveals an enigmatic dark line. Our maps of Pluto's surface are now as good as our maps of Mars and Venus, circa 1900!

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LightSail Test Mission Declared Success; First Image Complete

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/09 01:15 CDT | 22 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail test mission successfully completed its primary objective of deploying a solar sail in low-Earth orbit.

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Sails in Space: Partial Photo, Video and Light Curve (Updated)

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/08 11:00 CDT | 7 comments

It’s official: The sails are out. This afternoon, LightSail mission controllers downlinked a partial image of the spacecraft’s solar sails in space.

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New HQ Coming Together

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2015/06/08 04:50 CDT | 1 comments

Our new Planetary Society headquarters building is on track to be ready for us by mid-July. The building, which once was a bank, is being converted into a contemporary office space customized for the unique needs of The Planetary Society.

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Deployment! LightSail Boom Motor Whirrs to Life

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/07 04:20 CDT | 15 comments

LightSail's tiny solar sail deployment motor sprung to life Sunday afternoon, marking an important milestone for The Planetary Society’s nail-biting test mission.

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LightSail Drama Continues as Spacecraft Wakes for Second Time

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/06 04:45 CDT | 6 comments

LightSail is back in business, following the second extended outage of the test spacecraft’s mission. The CubeSat checked in at 2:21 p.m. EDT Saturday.

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The Planetary Society at Earth Day NYC

Posted by Kate Howells on 2015/06/05 12:10 CDT

Volunteer Network Coordinator Kate Howells reports on our first time participating in New York City's enormous Earth Day celebration.

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Using Cardboard to Tour Mars

Posted by Scott Maxwell on 2015/06/04 05:47 CDT | 3 comments

Former Mars rover driver Scott Maxwell uses Google Cardboard to take a tour of the Red Planet.

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