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Rosetta update: Instrument commissioning going well; Philae cameras activated

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/22 12:46 CDT

Rosetta and Philae have very nearly completed a six-week phase of spacecraft and instrument checkouts to prepare the mission to do science. Recently, the lander used its cameras for the first time since hibernation, producing some new photos of Rosetta in space.

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Comet spotted! Rosetta's first sight of Churymov-Gerasimenko since wakeup

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/27 09:58 CDT | 2 comments

Rosetta has turned on its cameras and sighted its comet for the first time since waking from hibernation. Next activity: waking the Philae lander.

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The Very Large Telescope sights Rosetta's comet target, sees activity beginning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/10 02:18 CDT

Rosetta's comet target, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has emerged from behind the Sun as seen from Earth, and the Very Large Telescope has photographed it. The new images show that cometary activity has already begun as Rosetta approaches for its August rendezvous.

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Rosetta update from mission control

Posted by Daniel Scuka on 2014/01/21 01:37 CST | 3 comments

We spoke with (a slightly tired but hugely happy) Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo earlier this afternoon and he reports the spacecraft is doing fine!

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Rosetta is awake!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/20 02:33 CST | 5 comments

It was a tense half an hour for Rosetta fans all over the world as we waited for a spike in a graph to inform us that Rosetta had awoken from a 31-month slumber to phone home.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa 2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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Cometary Science at EPSC

Posted by Geraint Jones on 2013/09/26 05:02 CDT

Recently, almost a thousand researchers gathered in London for Europe’s annual meeting of planetary scientists. Here's a report from one session on cometary science.

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A forgotten image of Earth and the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/02/13 07:45 CST | 4 comments

While researching another story, I came across an image I don't remember ever seeing before, of a moonrise from an unexpected source.

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One of my favorite space images of all time: Rosetta was here

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/31 04:58 CST | 10 comments

A conversation on Twitter today reminded me of this photo, which is one of my all-time favorite space images: the view from Rosetta during its Mars flyby.

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My ever-popular asteroids-and-comets montage, now in color, with bonus Toutatis

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/18 04:26 CST | 9 comments

My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.

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DPS 2012, Day 5: How to make asteroids crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/19 07:53 CDT | 2 comments

A summary of just one talk from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, by Lindy Elkins-Tanton, which provided a neat explanation for how asteroids can be melted and layered on the inside yet have a primitive-looking exterior.

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Steins, a jewel in the asteroid belt

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/13 09:00 CDT | 1 comments

A notice of some new names for features on asteroid 2867 Steins inspired me to dig up the data set from the September 5, 2008 Rosetta flyby and explore it to see what it contained.

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Pretty Pictures: Amazing Asteroid Lutetia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/10 02:00 CDT

A long-awaited data set is finally public (well, long-awaited by me, at least). The Rosetta team has now published their data from the July 10, 2010 flyby of asteroid (21) Lutetia. This data set is absolutely stunning, and my friends in the amateur image processing community wasted no time in creating art out of it.

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At last: Rosetta's Mars flyby photos have been released!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/24 03:51 CST | 1 comments

At last: Rosetta's Mars flyby photos have been released!

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Notes from Day 5 of the EPSC/DPS meeting: Saturn's storm, Phobos, and Lutetia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/07 07:09 CDT

Today was (is) the last day of the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting in Nantes, France.

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Watching Phobos pass by Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/17 09:27 CDT

Here is a really cool view of Phobos in the foreground with gigantic (but very distant) Jupiter sitting in the background, a fortuitous alignment that the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera team took advantage of on June 1.

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Rosetta has entered its long sleep

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/14 12:25 CDT

One big space event that I missed while I was on vacation was Rosetta's entry into hibernation. Rosetta is the biggest interplanetary spacecraft that has been launched by ESA, and it has the groundbreaking goal of entering orbit around a comet and dropping a lander onto it.

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Place names on Lutetia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/26 05:56 CDT

Whenever we explore someplace new -- a new island, a new continent, a new cave, a new world -- there's a necessary activity that explorers must perform before they can sensibly tell the world about their discoveries: name things.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT

April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.

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