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Chang'e 3 update: 6 instruments active, new fan-produced landing video

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/17 10:51 CST | 28 comments

Today there was a lengthy press briefing by several members of the Chang'e 3 science team. A complete transcript was posted in Chinese. I have run it through two machine translators and found it to be quite informative, not just about the mission but also about attitudes about Chinese space exploration and foreign cooperation. I also have a cool fan-produced video to share.

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Europa: No Longer a "Should," But a "Must"

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/12 07:51 CST | 10 comments

We've waited long enough, Europa cries out for exploration and discovery. It's time to heed that cry.

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Top NASA Scientists Grapple with Budget Cuts
A struggle to keep new missions coming

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/10 05:52 CST | 3 comments

Ellen Stofan, NASA's Chief Scientist, and John Grunsfeld, the head of the Science Mission Directorate and a Hubble repair astronaut, highlighted recent NASA science discoveries at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.

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A Protected Class of Programs at NASA?
What real political support looks like

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/10 04:20 CST | 8 comments

The House Science Committee is considering giving a select few NASA programs special protected status against cancellation.

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The Sorry State of Planetary Science Funding In One Chart

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/09 02:18 CST | 12 comments

If you want to know why Cassini might be terminated early, or why NASA pulled out of its joint Mars mission with Europe, or why the new ASRG power source was put on indefinite hold, this chart has your answer.

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The ASRG Cancellation in Context

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/09 12:50 CST | 8 comments

ASRGs could have stretched NASA's limited supply of plutonium to potentially enable missions to the perpetually-shadowed polar craters on our moon, to flyby Uranus, or to float for months on a Titan lake.

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Why We're Writing the President (& Congress) Now

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/06 01:37 CST | 6 comments

Decisions about both the 2014 and 2015 budgets are happening soon.

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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama
Mr. President, be bold and embrace a vision of planetary exploration at NASA

Posted by Bill Nye on 2013/12/05 06:15 CST | 16 comments

Bill Nye writes President Obama arguing that the President should embrace a bold future of planetary exploration.

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What's Going on With Planetary Science Research?
Budget cuts mixed with a new way to fund science could disproportionately impact the next generation of planetary scientists

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/04 01:44 CST | 5 comments

Budget cuts mixed with a new way to fund science could disproportionately impact the next generation of planetary scientists.

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Call Your Representatives, Save Our Science

Posted by Andrew Rivkin on 2013/11/22 10:56 CST | 1 comment

I called one of my Senators earlier today. Before that I called my representative. It was pretty easy.

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NASA Just Cancelled its Advanced Spacecraft Power Program
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator was to use less Plutonium for cheaper missions.

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/11/15 04:06 CST | 32 comments

The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Program (ASRG) was just cancelled by NASA. This was to be the saving grace for Plutonium-238 availability, as it was a much more efficient way to generate electricity than classic RTG systems.

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We Need You to Stand Up for Planetary Exploration
Right now is a crucial time for future funding

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/11/08 12:39 CST | 1 comment

Congress and the White House are making decisions that impact funding for NASA's Planetary Exploration missions. We need to tell them that YES we are paying attention and care about the future of exploration.

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Power From the Isotopes
The United States is trying to generate plutonium fuel for the first time in 25 years. Will it succeed?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/29 01:21 CDT | 2 comments

We report on the current state of Plutonium-238 production in the United States, a crucial fuel source for planetary exploration spacecraft.

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One More U.N. Step Forward on NEOs

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/24 04:17 CDT | 1 comment

This week, the United Nations will move one step closer to an international response to the threat from near Earth objects (NEOs).

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Announcement for DPS 2013: New plan for "Agency Night" features...me!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/07 05:58 CDT | 1 comment

I'll be representing The Planetary Society on a quickly-replanned panel at tomorrow's Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Agency Night, in the absence of any representatives from federal funding agencies.

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Government shutdown closes 3 of 4 National Radio Astronomy Observatories

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/04 06:38 CDT | 3 comments

The shutdown of the federal government continues to claim casualties. Today, the Green Bank Telescope, Very Large Array, and Very Long Baseline Arrays all shut their doors, blinding us to the radio sky and scuttling long-term research projects.

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[Updated] A Government Shutdown Could Delay MAVEN's Launch to Mars

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/30 05:17 CDT | 2 comments

NASA confirmed that a government shutdown could affect pre-launch processing of the MAVEN spacecraft, currently scheduled to launch to Mars on November 18th.

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Plutonium-238 is Crucial for Space Exploration – and it's Running Out
The Planetary Society works to maintain plutonium availability for deep space missions

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/20 11:29 CDT | 3 comments

Plutonium-238 provides electricity to deep space missions, but NASA only has a little bit left. A new article in Wired highlights the disastrous consequences of no plutonium for use in space, something the Planetary Society is currently fighting for in Washington, D.C.

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Our Debt to NASA - Fighting the Pernicious Myth of NASA as Unnecessary

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/10 04:08 CDT | 10 comments

A recent article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine highlights how the pernicious myth of NASA as wasteful spending perpetuates through our culture.

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A Division of Planetary Science
When Scientists Can't Agree on Priorities, Should Politicians Listen?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/10 09:31 CDT | 3 comments

When scientists can't agree on priorities, will politicians listen? A reflection on a recent public policy session from the European Planetary Science Congress in London.

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