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Blog Archive


Last unflown space shuttle tank heads seaward for new mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/04/11 04:03 CDT

The last unflown space shuttle external fuel tank was loaded onto a barge at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility Sunday in New Orleans. It will ship to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to be joined with space shuttle Endeavour.

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How to Make a Pluto Globe

Posted by Sarah Morrison on 2016/04/08 08:02 CDT | 3 comments

Want to make your own globe of Pluto? Here's how!

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In pictures: Russian cargo ship shuffle underway

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/31 04:18 CDT

Russian ISS controllers are in the process of swapping out a trash-filled cargo ship for a new one bearing fresh supplies, following the successful launch of a Progress spacecraft from Kazakhstan today.

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LPSC 2016: So. Much. Ceres.

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/30 06:31 CDT | 13 comments

At last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, I enjoyed a large number of talks about Ceres. Now in its Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit, Dawn is showering scientists with high-resolution, color data.

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In pictures: Beautiful night launch sends Cygnus on its way

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/23 08:41 CDT | 1 comments

Here's a photo roundup from last night's Atlas V launch, which sent a Cygnus cargo craft on its way to the International Space Station.

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A Sunset on Mars: Crafting a scene from archival data

Posted by Justin Cowart on 2016/03/08 01:30 CST | 2 comments

Ever wanted to stand on Mars and watch a sunset? Unfortunately for many of us, it will never be something that we get to experience in person. But thanks to our robotic emissaries on Mars, and some careful processing of images from NASA's Planetary Data System, we can get a sense of what it’s like.

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Mars Express VMC is back online

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/04 12:48 CST

Mars Express' Visual Monitoring Camera is taking photos again! The camera was turned on for the first time in six months on Leap Day to take some lovely photos of Mars.

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One-year crew all smiles after safe landing in Kazakhstan

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/01 11:44 CST

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are safely back on Earth today after 340 days in space. The one-year crew duo, along with Sergey Volkov, touched down in Kazahkstan Wednesday morning.

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Pretty pictures: Cassini views of Titan's poles (with bonus Enceladus)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/25 02:13 CST | 4 comments

Image processing enthusiast Ian Regan produced a pretty view of Titan's lake-filled north pole, now visible to Cassini's cameras in the summer sun.

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Virgin Galactic Unveils New SpaceShipTwo

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/19 04:19 CST | 3 comments

Nearly 16 months after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo was destroyed in a fatal accident, the company is getting ready to fly again.

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In Pictures: Cygnus Takes out the Trash

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/19 01:08 CST | 1 comments

Early this morning, Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra released a trash-filled Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Orbital ATK flight controllers will send Cygnus into Earth's atmosphere for a controlled reentry Saturday morning.

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Light plays on a Martian crater rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/16 01:30 CST

Recently, space image processing enthusiast Thomas Appéré noticed that Curiosity had taken five photos of exactly the same spot on the rim of Gale crater, identical but for being taken at different times of day. That spot was due north of the rover, so the rising and lowering Sun illuminates the rounded hummocks of the crater rim differently from early morning to early afternoon.

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Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/10 12:21 CST | 4 comments

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

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30th anniversary images of Uranian moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/02 01:06 CST | 6 comments

January 24 was the 30th anniversary of the Voyager flyby of Uranus. Uranian moons have been on my mind ever since New Horizons sent us close-up images of Charon. On the occasion of the anniversary, Ted Stryk produced latest-and-greatest versions of the Voyager views of these worlds.

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First Look: Newest LightSail Spacecraft Unfurls Solar Sails

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/29 05:31 CST | 3 comments

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft successfully deployed its solar sails Thursday, wrapping up an initial round of system-level tests to prepare the CubeSat for flight.

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Fun with a new data set: Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/28 07:08 CST | 26 comments

Here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.

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Wide views of Mars from Mars Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/27 10:59 CST | 4 comments

Geologist and amateur space image processor Justin Cowart has dug into the Mars Express archives and located some lovely, wide views across great swaths of the Martian globe.

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China invites public on-board its robotic missions; and how to download Chang'e data

Posted by Quanzhi Ye on 2016/01/25 10:50 CST | 1 comments

China plans a busy future in robotic space exploration. Besides the scientific merit, what interests me most about the upcoming Chang'e 4 mission is their intention to get the public involved.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Shadow Play

Posted by Adam Block on 2016/01/18 07:02 CST | 2 comments

Adam Block brings us his first images processed in the new year, showcasing the beautiful interplay of light and dark.

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SpaceX Successfully Launches Ocean Satellite but Breaks a Leg on Drone Ship

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/17 04:40 CST

The Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite reached orbit today, but SpaceX's third attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship came up short.

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