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Blog Archive


How Can We Write About Science When People Are Dying?

Posted by Nadia Drake on 2015/11/25 05:42 CST | 5 comments

Stories about exploration and wonder can be powerful antidotes to seemingly endless suffering and destruction.

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In Pictures: LightSail Cameras Prepped for Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/25 01:13 CST

LightSail's flight cameras are being prepped for installation after receiving a software upgrade and checkout from their manufacturer.

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Blue Origin Lands Spent Suborbital Rocket Stage in Texas

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/24 10:24 CST | 4 comments

Secretive spaceflight company Blue Origin flew its New Shepard launch vehicle to the edge of space, deployed a suborbital spacecraft and returned the spent booster rocket to Earth for an upright landing.

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2015 Reviews of childrens' books about space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/24 10:13 CST | 2 comments

Continuing an annual tradition, Emily Lakdawalla reviews children's books about space -- what's out there, how we explore, and why. Many of the books on this list aren't just for kids!

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NASA Orders First Official SpaceX Crew Flight to ISS

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/23 05:13 CST | 4 comments

NASA placed its first official order for a SpaceX Crew Dragon to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the agency announced Friday.

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Surveyor Digitization Project Hints at Long-Lost Lunar Treasures

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/23 10:36 CST | 7 comments

A project to digitize more than 90,000 images taken by NASA’s five Surveyor spacecraft in the 1960s has revealed early hints of never-before-seen treasures captured by America’s first robotic lunar landers.

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Mastcam-Z has passed its Preliminary Design Review!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/23 09:13 CST

A panel of outside experts reviewed the design of the Mars 2020 rover's color cameras, and approved the progress of Mastcam-Z. It still exists only as an idea in the cloud, but it's one significant step closer to being sent to Mars.

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DPS 2015: Solar System Formation

Posted by Erika NesvoldJohn Debes on 2015/11/20 05:47 CST

At the 47th Division of Planetary Systems meeting, many presentations touched on some of the most contentious and poorly known aspects of how planets form.

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Watch the entire Cassini mission image catalog as a movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/20 09:43 CST | 2 comments

If you were to download the entire catalog of photos taken at Saturn to date by Cassini and then animate them like a flipbook, how long would it take to watch them all pass by? The Wall Street Journal's Visual Correspondent Jon Keegan has your answer: nearly four hours.

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Two JAXA mission updates: Akatsuki Venus orbit entry and PROCYON Earth flyby coming up!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/19 05:51 CST

Akatsuki is finally approaching its second attempt to enter Venus orbit, on December 7; let's all wish JAXA the best of luck! And PROCYON, whose ion engines have failed, is still an otherwise perfectly functional spacecraft that is taking photos of Earth and the Moon as it approaches for a flyby.

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United Launch Alliance Unveils New CubeSat Carrier Program

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/19 01:14 CST

United Launch Alliance plans to include a CubeSat carrier on nearly every one of its Atlas V and Vulcan rockets starting in 2017, the company announced today.

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DPS 2015: A little science from Rosetta, beyond perihelion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/18 07:47 CST | 2 comments

Updated numbers for physical properties of the comet, and a few interesting images of surface features and surface changes on Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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At NASA's Johnson Space Center, Preparing for the Future of Human Spaceflight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/18 12:00 CST | 1 comments

As NASA kicks off a multi-decadal effort to send humans to Mars, the agency's traditional human spaceflight centers have had to adapt to new challenges—often more programmatic than technical.

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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/16 01:31 CST | 3 comments

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

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OSIRIS-REx Progressing Through Environmental Testing

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/11/16 07:49 CST | 1 comments

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make steady progress toward launch in September 2016. Environmental testing is now underway to ensure the spacecraft is ready for the many conditions it will experience over its mission.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Lesser-Known Beauty

Posted by Adam Block on 2015/11/13 05:24 CST

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares stunning images of a few rarely-imaged pieces of our universe.

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DPS 2015: First reconnaissance of Ceres by Dawn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/12 08:55 CST | 7 comments

This is the first major meeting since Dawn's arrival at Ceres, and despite competition with Pluto surface science there was a well-attended Ceres talk session on Monday and poster session on Tuesday.

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SpaceX Completes Crew Dragon Propulsion System Development Testing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/11 12:21 CST

SpaceX has completed development testing on its SuperDraco propulsion system, used to propel the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft away from a Falcon rocket in the event of a launch failure.

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Detecting Dust Devils with Insight

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/11/11 11:29 CST

Planetary scientist and dust devil expert Ralph Lorenz describes how the upcoming Mars InSight lander's sensitive seismometer might be able to detect dust devils.

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DPS 2015: Pluto's small moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra [UPDATED]

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/10 02:18 CST | 7 comments

For my first post on results from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, I'm going to tell you about Pluto's small moons: Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra, their bright colors and wacky rotation states.

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