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A Sunset on Mars: Crafting a scene from archival data

Justin Cowart • March 08, 2016

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.

Mars Express VMC is back online

Emily Lakdawalla • March 04, 2016

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.

One-year crew all smiles after safe landing in Kazakhstan

Jason Davis • March 01, 2016

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • February 25, 2016

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.

Virgin Galactic Unveils New SpaceShipTwo

Jason Davis • February 19, 2016

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

In Pictures: Cygnus Takes out the Trash

Jason Davis • February 19, 2016

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.

Light plays on a Martian crater rim

Emily Lakdawalla • February 16, 2016

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • February 10, 2016

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.

30th anniversary images of Uranian moons

Emily Lakdawalla • February 02, 2016

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.

First Look: Newest LightSail Spacecraft Unfurls Solar Sails

Jason Davis • January 29, 2016

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • January 28, 2016

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.

Wide views of Mars from Mars Express

Emily Lakdawalla • January 27, 2016

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.

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

Quanzhi Ye • January 25, 2016

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.

Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Shadow Play

Adam Block • January 18, 2016

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

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

Jason Davis • January 17, 2016

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.

Pretty pictures: Bittersweet goodies from Cassini at Titan, Enceladus, and Telesto

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2016

Tomorrow, Cassini will fly by Titan, picking up a gravity assist that will tilt its orbit slightly up and out of the ring plane. That will end what has been a wonderful year of frequent encounters with Saturnian moons.

JunoCam cruise data, and a look ahead to Jupiter

Emily Lakdawalla • January 13, 2016

Juno is now fewer than six months and 100 million kilometers away from Jupiter, and the Juno team is busily preparing for the arrival. Amateur astronomers are supporting them by taking lots of Jupiter photos.

Curiosity update, sols 1166-1217: First reconnaissance of Bagnold dunes

Emily Lakdawalla • January 07, 2016

In the six weeks since my last detailed Curiosity update, the rover has driven to, on, and around a couple of active barchan sand dunes on Mars. They are now searching for a site to scoop and sample sand on the western edge of Namib dune.

Dawn Journal: Science on Ceres

Marc Rayman • January 01, 2016

The Dawn mission is developing humankind’s most intimate portrait ever of a dwarf planet. Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman returns with his monthly update on the mission's progress.

Two epic photos of Earth -- but which one is truer?

Emily Lakdawalla • December 29, 2015

Two images of Earth taken from different spacecraft at the same time illustrate differences in "true" color imaging among spacecraft.

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