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ExoMars: Prepare for launch!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/10 10:28 CST | 5 comments

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are in the final preparations for a launch as early as Monday, toward an October 2016 Mars orbit insertion and landing in Meridiani Planum. Launch on a Proton rocket is expected at 09:31:42 UT Monday, March 14. A Breeze-M upper stage will send the spacecraft on to Mars, with separation at 20:13 UT.

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InSight has a new launch date: May 5, 2018

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/09 03:41 CST

NASA has decided to move forward with the InSight mission after its delay last December, setting a new launch date of May 5, 2018. That will put the landing on Mars on November 26, 2018. In order to launch in two years, one of its two science instruments must be redesigned.

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Veteran space shuttle engine to be test-fired for SLS in Mississippi

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/09 01:30 CST

An veteran engine from the space shuttle program will be test-fired tomorrow at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, kicking off the next round of Space Launch System flight preparations.

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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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"Planet Nine" update: Possible resonances beyond the Kuiper belt?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/08 11:34 CST | 26 comments

A new paper by Renu Malhotra proposes that an undiscovered distant planet could have organized extremely distant Kuiper belt objects into orbital resonances.

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SpaceX drops satellite into high orbit but misses difficult booster landing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/04 06:52 CST | 1 comments

SpaceX overcame high propellant temperatures, a boat too close to the launch pad, and pesky weather to launch a communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit this evening.

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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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Continuing the Hunt for Exoplanets

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2016/03/04 10:04 CST | 6 comments

Meg Schwamb highlights some of the upcoming space-based missions that will search for planets beyond our solar system.

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A tribute to Scott Kelly, astronaut and human being

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/03/04 06:31 CST | 3 comments

Thanks to social media, we get to know individual astronauts better than we have at any other time in the history of spaceflight.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Scales Knudsen Ridge and Rocks On
Sols 4274 - 4302

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/03/03 08:21 CST | 1 comments

As the Martian winter slowly begins to recede, Opportunity is working away on the steep slopes of Knudsen Ridge at the southern end of Marathon Valley, showing her mettle in some of the most challenging terrain of the rover’s 12+ years on the Red Planet.

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OSIRIS-REx Passes EMI/EMC Testing

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2016/03/03 08:00 CST

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has completed the Electromagnetic Interference/Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMI/EMC) system level test.

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MENCA brings divine wealth from Mars: First science results from the Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted by Syed Maqbool Ahmed on 2016/03/02 08:00 CST | 4 comments

MENCA (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser) is a quadrupole mass spectrometer onboard India's Mars Orbiter Mission, MOM. A report on measurements of neutral species accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters is the first peer-reviewed scientific result from the mission.

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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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How Does a NASA Scientist End Up Working on an ESA Mission?

Posted by Jason Rhodes on 2016/03/01 11:00 CST | 2 comments

Cosmologist Jason Rhodes details the path he took to play a leading role in a European mission designed to learn about dark energy.

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Dawn Journal: Success at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/03/01 07:04 CST | 25 comments

More than eight years after leaving Earth behind for an ambitious deep space adventure, the Dawn mission has now collected all of the data originally planned. Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman brings us an update.

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What's up in solar system exploration: March 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/29 02:45 CST | 4 comments

Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.

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Meet LightSail 2, The Planetary Society's new solar sailing CubeSat

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/29 06:35 CST | 1 comments

The Planetary Society's solar sailing CubeSat has a new designation: LightSail 2. To celebrate the name change, we're releasing a new video showing footage from a late January sail deployment at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

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Curiosity Rover: Design, Planning, and Field Geology on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/26 12:09 CST | 6 comments

Emily is back to work on her Mars Science Laboratory book, which has a new publication date and a new title.

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Atlanta Students Bring Mars to Earth

Posted by Mark Sequeira on 2016/02/26 09:22 CST | 1 comments

A group of students from Georgia, USA, were able to explore Mars through the Mars Express #VMCschools campaign, with a little help from The Planetary Society's image processing tutorials.

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One-year ISS mission draws to a close

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/25 03:46 CST

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are set to return to Earth next week after their record-breaking, year-long mission aboard the International Space Station.

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