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OSIRIS-REx blazes into evening sky, starting journey to asteroid Bennu

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/09/08 08:56 CDT | 5 comments

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is safely en route to asteroid Bennu following an evening liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Carrying names of 440,000 well-wishers, OSIRIS-REx ready for journey to Bennu and back

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/09/07 12:24 CDT | 7 comments

OSIRIS-REx is ready to begin its journey to Bennu and back. The asteroid was named by a Planetary Society contest winner, and the spacecraft bears the names of 440,000 well-wishers.

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Philae spotted on the surface of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/06 02:27 CDT | 1 comments

Ever since its landing, Philae has been elusive. It went silent just three days later and never returned any more science data, though it made brief contact with the orbiter last summer. Now, just a month until the planned end of the Rosetta mission, the orbiter has finally located the lander in a stunning high-resolution view of the surface.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Gets in the Groove, Wraps Science Marathon Valley
Sols 4452 - 4481

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/09/05 11:01 CDT

Opportunity got in the groove at Endeavour Crater in August finishing the last of her science assignments in Marathon Valley.

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OSIRIS-REx is on the launch pad, ready for the big day

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/02 04:21 CDT | 6 comments

The OSIRIS-REx mission passed its flight readiness review yesterday, clearing the way for the spacecraft to launch on Thursday, September 8. Here's a schedule of next week's NASA TV briefings and a photo album of the launch preparations.

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Juno's instruments return riches from first perijove

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/02 02:30 CDT | 3 comments

On August 27, Juno soared across Jupiter's cloud tops from pole to pole, with all instruments operating. NASA posted some terrific first results from several of the instruments today. And the JunoCam team released all 28 raw images taken during the close encounter.

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Join The Planetary Society on social media for an epic #RocketRoadTrip

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/09/02 06:02 CDT

From September 6-16, The Planetary Society is visiting four NASA centers focused predominantly on the agency’s Journey to Mars program. Follow us on social media with the hashtag #RocketRoadTrip.

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Dawn Journal: Diving Low

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/09/01 10:08 CDT | 11 comments

Following the conclusion of Dawn's ambitious 8.8-year prime mission on June 30, the spacecraft has been gathering a wealth of data with all sensors in its extended mission as it orbits closer to Ceres than the International Space Station is to Earth.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket explosion: What we know and don't know

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/09/01 10:32 CDT | 15 comments

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral this morning. Here's what we know and don't know.

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What's up in the solar system, September 2016 edition: OSIRIS-REx launches, Rosetta ends

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/31 12:00 CDT | 1 comments

The month of September begins with an annular solar eclipse visible from much of Africa on September 1. On or after September 8, we'll see OSIRIS-REx launch into a two-year cruise toward a rendezvous with asteroid Bennu. But September will close, sadly, with the end of the wonderful Rosetta mission.

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Let’s be careful about this “SETI” signal

Posted by Franck Marchis on 2016/08/30 12:19 CDT | 10 comments

Several readers have contacted me recently about reports that a group of international astronomers have detected a strong signal coming from a distant star that could be a sign of a high-technology civilization. Here’s my reaction: it’s interesting, but it’s definitely not the sign of an alien civilization—at least not yet.

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Will Juno’s Instruments Observe the Moons of Jupiter?

Posted by Candice Hansen on 2016/08/30 10:38 CDT | 2 comments

It is not easy to observe Jupiter’s moons as more than points of light with Juno, because Juno will never get very close to any of the moons, but as its orbit shifts there will be opportunities to collect data on some of the moons.

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Selecting the Next New Frontiers Mission

Posted by Van Kane on 2016/08/29 08:09 CDT | 13 comments

NASA’s managers have begun the process for a competition to select a new planetary mission to launch in the mid-2020s that will address one of the most important questions in planetary science.

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Juno's first Jupiter close approach successful; best JunoCam images yet to come

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/27 08:07 CDT | 13 comments

NASA announced this afternoon that Juno passed through its first perijove since entering orbit successfully, with science instruments operating all the way. This is a huge relief, given all the unknowns about the effects of Jupiter's nasty radiation environment on its brand-new orbiter.

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Proxima Centauri b: Have we just found Earth’s cousin right on our doorstep?

Posted by Franck Marchis on 2016/08/24 12:01 CDT | 19 comments

What began as a tantalizing rumor has just become an astonishing fact. Today a group of thirty-one scientists announced the discovery of a terrestrial exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri. The discovery of this planet, Proxima Centauri b, is a huge breakthrough not just for astronomers but for all of us. Here’s why.

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How big is that butte?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/23 05:09 CDT | 4 comments

Whenever I share images from Curiosity, among the most common questions I’m asked is “what is the scale of this image?” With help from imaging enthusiast Seán Doran, I can answer that question for some of the Murray buttes.

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JunoCam "Marble Movie" data available

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/22 04:56 CDT | 11 comments

Since a few days after entering orbit, JunoCam has been taking photos of Jupiter every fifteen minutes, accumulating a trove of data that can be assembled into a movie of the planet.

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Space in transition: How Obama's White House charted a new course for NASA
In 2009 and 2010, the Obama administration orchestrated a major shift for NASA’s human spaceflight program

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/08/22 06:04 CDT | 7 comments

Our Horizon Goal series on NASA's human spaceflight program continues with part 3, in which newly elected President Barack Obama and his transition team search for a NASA administrator, commission a review of the Constellation program and decide whether to extend the life of the ISS.

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OSIRIS-REx launch preview

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/17 03:34 CDT | 1 comments

Launch day is coming for NASA's next interplanetary explorer! OSIRIS-REx is on schedule for launch on September 8, 2016 at 19:05 EDT (16:05 PDT, 23:05 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. OSIRIS-REx is the first NASA planetary launch since MAVEN in 2013, and will be the last until InSight in 2018.

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Gullies on Mars: Wet or Dry (Ice)?

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2016/08/17 08:02 CDT | 1 comments

Martian gullies were in the spotlight last week thanks to a NASA press release stating they were "likely not formed by liquid water" based on spectral results. But how does this stack up against their morphology?

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