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Blog Archive


Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Sleuths New Site for Smectites

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/05/10 08:01 CDT | 2 comments

Opportunity and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) team pressed on through the Martian winter and spent April sleuthing for clay minerals at the mission’s new site on the southern wall of Marathon Valley.

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All the way to orbit: After 35 years, is the RS-25 still the Ferrari of rocket engines?

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/05/09 06:00 CDT | 21 comments

The RS-25 powered the space shuttle for three decades, and will soon be used on the Space Launch System. Is it still the Ferrari of rocket engines? A deep dive on performance, reliability and the politics of rocket science.

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New lunar mosaics emerge as Surveyor digitization project continues

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/05/06 06:04 CDT

A team of scientists at the University of Arizona continue their efforts to extract data from more than 90,000 images captured during NASA's Surveyor program. In the meantime, new first-look images and an animation have been released.

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The what-o-sphere? An explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/05/05 08:04 CDT | 3 comments

Why do we need to slice up atmospheres into classifications like the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere?

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Dawn Journal: A New Angle on Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/05/04 01:31 CDT | 27 comments

Since April 11, instead of photographing the scenery directly beneath it, Dawn has been aiming its camera to the left and forward as it orbits and Ceres rotates to map more of the dwarf planet.

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The Giant Volcanoes of Mars

Posted by Justin Cowart on 2016/05/04 12:45 CDT | 1 comments

Justin Cowart shares some spectacular images showcasing Mars' volcanoes from Mars Express.

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What's up in the solar system, May 2016 edition: Good news in cruise for Juno and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/03 11:17 CDT | 5 comments

May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.

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A Moon for Makemake

Posted by Alex Parker on 2016/05/02 10:54 CDT | 2 comments

The solar system beyond Neptune is full of worlds hosting moons. Now we know that the dwarf planet Makemake has one of its very own.

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Future High-Resolution Imaging of Mars: Super-Res to the Rescue?

Posted by Alfred McEwen on 2016/04/29 02:27 CDT | 3 comments

HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen explains an imaging technique known as Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR), and how it could come in handy for high-resolution imaging of the Red Planet.

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What NASA Can Learn from SpaceX
A man, a plan, Mars

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/04/28 11:42 CDT | 23 comments

SpaceX's announcement that it will send Dragon capsules to Mars demonstrates the advantage of having a clear plan to explore the red planet. NASA should take note.

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The phases of the far side of the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/28 10:50 CDT | 4 comments

Serbian artist Ivica Stošić used Clementine and Kaguya data to give a glimpse of the phases of the lunar farside.

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Shuttle tank, meet canal: Engineering wonders cross paths in Panama

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/28 06:02 CDT | 4 comments

Two modern engineering marvels crossed paths this week here in Central America, as the last unflown space shuttle external fuel tank passed through the Panama Canal during a multi-week voyage from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

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The Senate Just Proposed to Slash Planetary Science Funding
But I'm not worrying—yet

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/04/26 01:54 CDT | 2 comments

The Senate has released its draft of NASA's 2017 budget which, despite increasing NASA's top-line by $300 million, would cut $270 million from the Planetary Science Division. Here's why we shouldn't worry—yet.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 4333 - April 1, 2016

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2016/04/26 07:32 CDT

Opportunity has climbed west and up Marathon Valley in one of the final campaigns before moving on and beginning the summer field activities to the south southward.

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Quick Curiosity update, sol 1320: "Lubango," the 10th drill site on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/25 11:15 CDT | 1 comments

Curiosity has drilled into Mars for the 10th time at a site named Lubango, on sol 1320 (April 23, 2016). Lubango is in a bright-toned halo around a crack in the Stimson sandstone unit on the western edge of the Naukluft Plateau.

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NASA Space Apps Challenge: Women hacking space image data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/22 12:19 CDT | 2 comments

Today I'm participating in a program called the International @SpaceApps Women in Data Bootcamp. I'm presenting a brief talk highlighting the way that my personal discovery of NASA's image data archives shaped my path into public communication about science, and briefly showcasing three other women who do amazing work with public image data.

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Planetary Society solar sails paved way for Alpha Centauri starshot

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/22 06:01 CDT | 4 comments

A new initiative to send a fleet of tiny spacecraft to Alpha Centauri is connected to The Planetary Society through its founders and efforts to advance solar sailing technology.

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Moonset over Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/21 10:23 CDT | 1 comments

Enjoy this serene image of a moonset on another world, captured by Curiosity's Mastcam in April 2014 and processed here by Justin Cowart.

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Engineering an Impact on the New Frontier

Posted by Bradley Williams on 2016/04/21 08:01 CDT

Bradley Williams, Systems Engineer for the camera suite on NASA's OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission, details the path that led him to his current position.

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Atmospheric Waves Awareness: An Explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/04/20 10:30 CDT | 4 comments

There are two types of atmospheric waves that are critically important on Earth and other planets: gravity waves and planetary waves.

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