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Dust on, dust off: Before-and-after comparisons of rover decks on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/19 04:16 CDT | 6 comments

Curiosity and Opportunity self-portraits show one rover accumulating dust, the other losing it. Check out these cool before-and-after comparisons.

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Complete 2014 Astronomy Course Online

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/05/19 11:05 CDT | 6 comments

Bruce Betts has completed the lectures for his online 2014 Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy Course at CSUDH: all are online and you can earn a Certificate of Achievement for watching them.

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Venus Express science mission ends; aerobraking experiment beginning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/16 03:33 CDT | 4 comments

Venus Express, currently the only spacecraft orbiting our nearest planetary neighbor, will soon meet a fiery end in Venus' atmosphere. But its work isn't over yet. ESA will maneuver Venus Express to dip into the uppermost Venus atmosphere and study how the spacecraft responds to atmospheric pressure, giving ESA valuable experience in aerobraking.

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Curiosity update, sols 610-630: Drilling work at Windjana

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/15 12:20 CDT | 3 comments

Finally, a new drill site! For the first time in nearly a year, Curiosity has put drill bit to rock and acquired a new sample of Martian material for her analytical instruments to chew on. Scientific data collection at Windjana is now complete; Curiosity drove away last night, on sol 630.

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Pretty pictures: Rosetta's comet is now acting like one!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/15 10:17 CDT | 5 comments

New photos from ESA's comet-chaser show its destination comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, developing a coma.

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A Reluctant Dance Towards Europa
or, Why A Credible Europa Mission is Likely to Cost ~$2B

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/05/14 12:42 CDT | 15 comments

For the last two years, NASA has been the shy partner refusing to get on the dance floor, and Congress has been the aggressive partner insisting on a dance now. Recently, NASA has said maybe on another night but only if it’s a cheap date. While NASA says no for now, Congress looks to be willing to slip the band a cool $100M – on top of $150M already paid – to keep the music playing, but (to keep the metaphor going) has not been willing to fully commit itself to paying the bigger bill to rent the dance hall. The dance, of course, is the continuing attempt by Congress to have NASA commit to a mission to explore Europa, and NASA’s attempts to delay a mission well into the 2020s.

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The Case of the 5-Millisecond Cosmic Radio Burst

Posted by Katherine Mack on 2014/05/14 10:49 CDT

Everyone loves a good mystery. In astronomy, there is nothing more exciting than an unexplained signal.

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An Update on Advocacy Fundraising
We're close to $100,000 of our $125,000 goal

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/05/13 02:39 CDT

Last month, we asked our supporters to help us raise at least $125,000 to support our advocacy program that works to fund planetary exploration and NASA. We've raised nearly $100,000, but need help reaching our stretch goal.

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A new Earthrise over the Moon from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's pushframe camera

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/13 11:53 CDT

Earth's brilliant colors shine above the drab lunar horizon in this new "Earthrise" photo from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. An animation that accompanied the image release helped me to write an explainer on how pushframe cameras like Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Wide-Angle Camera works.

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What’s Seeping on Mars? Recurring Slope Lineae

Posted by Matthew Chojnacki on 2014/05/13 09:53 CDT | 13 comments

HiRISE team member Matt Chojnacki tells us about the discovery and formation of these mysterious features forming on Mars in the present day.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3650 – May 2, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/05/12 11:09 CDT | 1 comment

Opportunity is closing in on the next important outcrop area on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Another Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/05/12 09:56 CDT | 1 comment

One day, five worlds.

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Upcoming public appearances: Spacefest and ISDC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/08 07:00 CDT | 3 comments

Updates on upcoming appearances in southern California at Spacefest tomorrow, and the International Space Development Conference next week.

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Rosetta update: Final orbit matching phase has begun

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/08 04:05 CDT | 1 comment

Rosetta is in the final stage of its approach to comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Yesterday, the spacecraft successfully performed the first of ten burns it needs to match velocity with the comet.

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On writing Infinitesimal

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2014/05/08 02:59 CDT | 2 comments

Amir Alexander's new book about an epic battle over a mathematical concept that shook the old order and shaped the world as we know it.

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Illustris: A realistic virtual universe

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/05/08 02:46 CDT | 5 comments

Watch another universe unfold as simulated by Illustris, using a model that required 8,000 processors running in parallels 3 months to create!

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Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 13: Galaxies, the Universe, Life

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/05/08 01:17 CDT

Discover the Universe including the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, galaxies, life and more in this video of class 13 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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New Horizons: Updates From the April 2014 Science Team Meeting

Posted by Simon Porter on 2014/05/07 06:36 CDT | 1 comment

New Horizons team member Simon Porter reports on the state of the mission and Pluto system science from the recent science team meeting at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

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Wow, an Increase of $170 million for Planetary Exploration
The House comes through yet again

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/05/07 01:56 CDT | 3 comments

The House revealed details of its draft NASA budget today, including an increase of $170 million to Planetary Science above the White House's request for 2015, putting it within spitting distance of our goal of $1.5 billion.

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Dawn Journal: Explaining Orbit Insertion

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/05/06 08:21 CDT | 4 comments

Less than a year from its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to make excellent progress on its ambitious interplanetary adventure. But once it gets to Ceres, just how will it go into orbit? Marc Rayman explains.

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