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The Planetary Society Supports NASA's Asteroid Initiative
But we need to know the cost

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/05/27 01:02 CDT | 22 comments

The Planetary Society strongly supports NASA's asteroid initiative, including the goal of redirecting an asteroid to the vicinity of the Moon. But an independent cost estimate is needed, and needed soon.

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Will we find signs of tectonics on Pluto? And what would that mean?

Posted by Joseph O'Rourke on 2014/05/26 09:45 CDT | 1 comment

Joseph O’Rourke summarizes a recently submitted paper on tectonic activity on Pluto after the Charon-forming impact.

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New orbital images of Curiosity landing site from Mars Express and HiRISE

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/23 06:30 CDT | 4 comments

Mars Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are keeping their eyes in the sky on Curiosity. There's a nice newly public color image of all of Gale Crater from HiRISE, and two new HiRISE images within the Curiosity landing site.

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The value of a Guest Investigator program for Dawn

Posted by Anne Verbiscer on 2014/05/23 09:20 CDT | 1 comment

NASA selected 21 Participating Scientists to join the Dawn team in 2010, prior to Dawn's arrival at Vesta in 2011. Since that time, Dawn Participating Scientists have made enormous contributions to the mission, as they do for most other NASA missions. But the status of a Participating Scientist program for Dawn at Ceres has been in doubt.

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One Night Only, a New Meteor Shower that May Be Spectacular?

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/05/22 04:36 CDT | 3 comments

A new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids, will be peaking Friday night/Saturday morning (May 23/24). Especially if you are in North America, you are well positioned to see what may (or may not) be a spectacular show. In either case, scientists will learn about a comet’s history, and you can have a fun night looking at the sky.

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No, Russia Did Not Just Kick the U.S. Out of the Space Station
A top Russian official announced several unexpected policy changes in a response to U.S. sanctions.

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/05/20 06:43 CDT | 8 comments

A top Russian official announced a ban on Russian engines in U.S. military launches and questioned Russia's long-term commitment to the International Space Station. We cut through the hype and try to understand what was actually said and the immediate consequences facing NASA.

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Lovely, live, continuous, high-definition video of Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/20 05:19 CDT | 3 comments

Have you ever wished you could enjoy the astronauts' view of Earth from the Space Station? Now, you can. Just go to the live feed from the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment, crank it up to its highest resolution, let it take over your monitor, and watch Earth spin by.

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Behind the scenes: Our spring Board of Directors meeting

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2014/05/20 11:01 CDT | 2 comments

Twice a year, the Board of Directors of The Planetary Society gathers for a face-to-face meeting. Jennifer Vaughn reports on the meeting.

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Dust on, dust off: Before-and-after comparisons of rover decks on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/19 04:16 CDT | 6 comments

Curiosity and Opportunity self-portraits show one rover accumulating dust, the other losing it. Check out these cool before-and-after comparisons.

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Complete 2014 Astronomy Course Online

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/05/19 11:05 CDT | 6 comments

Bruce Betts has completed the lectures for his online 2014 Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy Course at CSUDH: all are online and you can earn a Certificate of Achievement for watching them.

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Venus Express science mission ends; aerobraking experiment beginning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/16 03:33 CDT | 4 comments

Venus Express, currently the only spacecraft orbiting our nearest planetary neighbor, will soon meet a fiery end in Venus' atmosphere. But its work isn't over yet. ESA will maneuver Venus Express to dip into the uppermost Venus atmosphere and study how the spacecraft responds to atmospheric pressure, giving ESA valuable experience in aerobraking.

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Curiosity update, sols 610-630: Drilling work at Windjana

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/15 12:20 CDT | 3 comments

Finally, a new drill site! For the first time in nearly a year, Curiosity has put drill bit to rock and acquired a new sample of Martian material for her analytical instruments to chew on. Scientific data collection at Windjana is now complete; Curiosity drove away last night, on sol 630.

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Pretty pictures: Rosetta's comet is now acting like one!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/15 10:17 CDT | 5 comments

New photos from ESA's comet-chaser show its destination comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, developing a coma.

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A Reluctant Dance Towards Europa
or, Why A Credible Europa Mission is Likely to Cost ~$2B

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/05/14 12:42 CDT | 15 comments

For the last two years, NASA has been the shy partner refusing to get on the dance floor, and Congress has been the aggressive partner insisting on a dance now. Recently, NASA has said maybe on another night but only if it’s a cheap date. While NASA says no for now, Congress looks to be willing to slip the band a cool $100M – on top of $150M already paid – to keep the music playing, but (to keep the metaphor going) has not been willing to fully commit itself to paying the bigger bill to rent the dance hall. The dance, of course, is the continuing attempt by Congress to have NASA commit to a mission to explore Europa, and NASA’s attempts to delay a mission well into the 2020s.

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The Case of the 5-Millisecond Cosmic Radio Burst

Posted by Katherine Mack on 2014/05/14 10:49 CDT

Everyone loves a good mystery. In astronomy, there is nothing more exciting than an unexplained signal.

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An Update on Advocacy Fundraising
We're close to $100,000 of our $125,000 goal

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/05/13 02:39 CDT

Last month, we asked our supporters to help us raise at least $125,000 to support our advocacy program that works to fund planetary exploration and NASA. We've raised nearly $100,000, but need help reaching our stretch goal.

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A new Earthrise over the Moon from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's pushframe camera

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/13 11:53 CDT

Earth's brilliant colors shine above the drab lunar horizon in this new "Earthrise" photo from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. An animation that accompanied the image release helped me to write an explainer on how pushframe cameras like Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Wide-Angle Camera works.

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What’s Seeping on Mars? Recurring Slope Lineae

Posted by Matthew Chojnacki on 2014/05/13 09:53 CDT | 13 comments

HiRISE team member Matt Chojnacki tells us about the discovery and formation of these mysterious features forming on Mars in the present day.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3650 – May 2, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/05/12 11:09 CDT | 1 comment

Opportunity is closing in on the next important outcrop area on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Another Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/05/12 09:56 CDT | 1 comment

One day, five worlds.

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