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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Finishes Another Record Year, Approaches 12th Anniversary
Sols 4214–4244

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/01/08 11:04 CST | 2 comments

Perched on the southern wall of Marathon Valley at Endeavour Crater, Opportunity braved temperatures descending well below -100° F in December to work the winter science campaign and home in on the remnants of ancient clays.

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New Budget Bolsters NASA's Journey to Mars Plans

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/08 06:04 CST | 16 comments

The recently passed omnibus spending bill directs NASA to work on a new upper stage for the Space Launch System, and begin development on deep space habitat modules.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/07 08:09 CST | 4 comments

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.

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Capturing the Rhythm of Space: Insights from 47th DPS Meeting

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2016/01/07 06:33 CST

The Division of Planetary Science (DPS) Meeting saw many exciting scientific discussions spanning the range of processes on different planetary bodies, as well as their replication in the laboratory and in models.

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#MarsWalk: 100 km

Posted by Merc Boyan on 2016/01/06 07:03 CST | 5 comments

Merc Boyan gives us an update on his goal of walking the distance from Viking 2 to Curiosity: 2880 kilometers.

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It's your data: Curating NASA's science treasures

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/05 05:22 CST | 3 comments

One of the great things about NASA is that all the data returned from all of the missions all over the solar system belong to you, the public. NASA shares all these data, and more, through the Planetary Data System, the Minor Planet Center, the Astromaterials Office, and the Astrogeology Science Center.

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A Lander for NASA’s Europa Mission

Posted by Van Kane on 2016/01/05 07:03 CST | 9 comments

While there’s at least eight years until it launches, this has been a pivotal year for developing NASA’s Europa mission.

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Recovered Falcon Booster in Good Shape, Ready for Testing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/04 03:11 CST | 1 comments

The used rocket booster SpaceX flown back to Cape Canaveral for an upright landing is undamaged and ready to be test fired, said company CEO Elon Musk.

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Dawn Journal: Science on Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2016/01/01 07:02 CST | 15 comments

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.

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Planetary Exploration Timelines: A Look Ahead to 2016

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/31 04:04 CST | 19 comments

How many planetary exploration missions are there, and where are they? These days, it's hard to keep track, because there are so many. I plan to begin the new year by taking stock of active missions, figuring out what each has set out to do and accomplished so far, but first I want to step back to consider the spread of missions across the solar system as a whole.

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Preview: 2016 aboard the International Space Station

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/30 01:13 CST | 1 comments

A look ahead to see what's in store for the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard humanity's orbital outpost.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/29 05:19 CST | 1 comments

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

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ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander travel safely to Baikonur

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/28 03:14 CST | 3 comments

Europe's second mission to Mars has begun its journey from its birthplace in Cannes to its planned arrival at Mars on October 19. Since December 17 we've been able to watch every step of its journey via Twitter.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Distant Galaxies

Posted by Adam Block on 2015/12/24 01:24 CST

Astrophotographer Adam Block shares stunning his images of far-away spiral galaxies.

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InSight's Problems: Possible Impacts

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/12/23 08:57 CST | 4 comments

Van Kane details the potential repercussions of the launch delay of InSight Mars lander on the rest of NASA's Discovery mission program.

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For the first time ever, a Curiosity Mastcam self-portrait from Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/22 06:17 CST | 1 comments

In a remarkable and wholly unexpected gift to Curiosity fans, the rover has just taken the first-ever color Mastcam self-portrait from Mars.

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NASA's Next Mars Mission Delayed for Two Years
One of its main scientific instruments could not maintain a vacuum

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/12/22 04:46 CST | 1 comments

A problem with the French space agency's seismometer instrument will delay NASA's InSight Mars lander by two years.

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December solstice: Viewing Earth's seasonal shifts from space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/22 10:12 CST | 2 comments

It's fun to watch the seasons shift from space, and as of this year we have new ways to do that.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Returns to Flight, Sticks Landing at Cape Canaveral

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/21 08:43 CST | 2 comments

SpaceX returned its Falcon 9 rocket to flight with flair tonight, successfully deploying 11 communications satellites after returning the rocket's first stage to Cape Canaveral for an upright landing.

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Pluto updates from AGU and DPS: Pretty pictures from a confusing world

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/21 05:38 CST | 7 comments

Pluto is reluctant to give up its secrets. Last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting I attended sessions featuring results from the New Horizons mission, and most of the presentations could be summed up thusly: the data sets are terrific, but there are still a lot of Pluto features that have scientists scratching their heads.

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