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Blog Archive


Blue Origin Lands Spent Suborbital Rocket Stage in Texas

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/24 10:24 CST | 2 comments

Secretive spaceflight company Blue Origin flew its New Shepard launch vehicle to the edge of space, deployed a suborbital spacecraft and returned the spent booster rocket to Earth for an upright landing.

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Watch the entire Cassini mission image catalog as a movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/20 09:43 CST | 2 comments

If you were to download the entire catalog of photos taken at Saturn to date by Cassini and then animate them like a flipbook, how long would it take to watch them all pass by? The Wall Street Journal's Visual Correspondent Jon Keegan has your answer: nearly four hours.

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Two JAXA mission updates: Akatsuki Venus orbit entry and PROCYON Earth flyby coming up!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/19 05:51 CST

Akatsuki is finally approaching its second attempt to enter Venus orbit, on December 7; let's all wish JAXA the best of luck! And PROCYON, whose ion engines have failed, is still an otherwise perfectly functional spacecraft that is taking photos of Earth and the Moon as it approaches for a flyby.

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DPS 2015: A little science from Rosetta, beyond perihelion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/18 07:47 CST | 2 comments

Updated numbers for physical properties of the comet, and a few interesting images of surface features and surface changes on Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/16 01:31 CST | 3 comments

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Lesser-Known Beauty

Posted by Adam Block on 2015/11/13 05:24 CST

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares stunning images of a few rarely-imaged pieces of our universe.

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A Day in the Solar System: 28 October 2015

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/11/09 07:44 CST | 5 comments

On October 28th, the Cassini spacecraft flew through the geyser plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus. But Cassini was not the only spacecraft operating in the solar system that day.

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Jupiter Weather Report: 2014/15 Apparition

Posted by Leigh Fletcher on 2015/11/05 01:44 CST

A summary of Jupiter's changing face as seen from Earth during its 2014/2015 apparition.

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ESA mission updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/04 07:15 CST

There have been several important pieces of news about European missions in the last month: Rosetta's fate has been determined; ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's launch is slightly delayed; and they have selected a landing site for the ExoMars rover.

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The round worlds in the solar system: An updated graphic

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/02 04:06 CST | 9 comments

I have a newly updated scale comparison graphic to share: all the round worlds in the solar system smaller than 10,000 kilometers in diameter, now with added Pluto, Charon, and Ceres.

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Dawn data from Ceres publicly released: Finally, color global portraits!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/22 03:24 CDT | 4 comments

A few days ago, Dawn officially released the first big pile of data from the Ceres mission phase. Thanks to the public release, I can show you color global portraits of Ceres.

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Filling in the Enceladus map: Cassini's 20th flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/16 06:19 CDT | 7 comments

A couple of days ago, Cassini flew past Enceladus for its 20th targeted encounter. Cassini has seen and photographed quite a lot of Enceladus before, but there's still new terrain for it to cover.

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Charon in 3D

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/13 06:40 CDT | 3 comments

Last week, the pile of New Horizons LORRI camera raw image releases included nine frames from a high-resolution mosaic on Charon. Together with the color MVIC view, they make a 3D global photo of Pluto's moon. Other recently released goodies include a global backlit color image of Pluto and the first image that resolves the tiny moon Styx.

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New Horizons releases new color pictures of Charon, high-resolution lookback photo of Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/02 06:05 CDT | 15 comments

Now that New Horizons is regularly sending back data, the mission is settling into a routine of releasing a set of captioned images on Thursdays, followed by raw LORRI images on Friday. The Thursday releases give us the opportunity to see lovely color data from the spacecraft's Ralph MVIC instrument. This week, the newly available color data set covered Charon.

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Thousands of Photos by Apollo Astronauts now on Flickr

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/02 10:49 CDT | 2 comments

A cache of more than 8,400 unedited, high-resolution photos taken by Apollo astronauts during trips to the moon is now available for viewing and download on Flickr.

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The solar system at 1 kilometer per pixel: Can you identify these worlds? The answers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/30 10:00 CDT | 13 comments

Last Friday I posted an image containing 18 samples of terrain, all shown at the same scale. Were you able to figure out which square was which? Here are the answers.

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The solar system at 1 kilometer per pixel: Can you identify these worlds?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/25 02:27 CDT | 13 comments

A look at the surfaces of 18 worlds in our solar system, all at the same scale.

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Lose yourself in this high-resolution portrait of Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/24 04:45 CDT | 13 comments

Enlarge this image to its full 8000-pixel-square glory and lose yourself in it.

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Checking in on Uranus and Neptune, September 2015 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/22 01:28 CDT | 5 comments

There are no spacecraft at Uranus or Neptune, and there haven't been for 30 and 25 years, respectively. So we depend on Earth-based astronomers to monitor them, including Damian Peach.

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Spectacular New Horizons photo of Pluto's hazes and mountains: How it was made

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/17 04:04 CDT | 11 comments

Today, New Horizons released a stunning new image of Pluto's backlit mountains and hazes. I explain how the image was taken with its Ralph Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera.

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