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Blog Archive


A New Way to Prepare Samples of Mars for Return to the Earth
Mars 2020’s strategy to cache samples is evolving as the mission matures

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/07/23 02:18 CDT | 16 comments

Mars 2020, NASA’s next and yet-to-be-named Mars rover, will be the first mission to collect and prepare samples of the martian surface for return to Earth. The rover's engineering team has proposed a new sampling caching strategy that differs from previous concepts in some interesting ways.

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Summer 2015 edition of The Planetary Report is here

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2015/07/23 10:03 CDT

The summer edition of The Planetary Report has printed and will soon be at your door.

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What in the world(s) are tholins?

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2015/07/22 07:00 CDT | 9 comments

The question “why is Pluto red” has been answered with a word that most people have never heard of and perhaps even fewer people can actually define—“tholins”.

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Name Hayabusa2's asteroid target!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/22 04:25 CDT | 3 comments

Have you ever wanted to name an asteroid? JAXA is offering the opportunity to name Hayabusa2's target asteroid, 1999 JU3 to the public through a contest that runs through August 31.

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Expedition 44 Trio Flies through Solar Panel Glitch, Arrives at Station

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/22 04:22 CDT

A three-person crew is safely aboard the International Space Station following an early morning launch of a Soyuz rocket and spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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New Horizons encounter plus one week: Weird and wonderful images from the Pluto system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/21 06:39 CDT | 23 comments

So many new image goodies from the Pluto system!

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Dawn at Ceres: A haze in Occator crater?

Posted by Andrew Rivkin on 2015/07/21 05:54 CDT | 17 comments

While Pluto deservedly stole the headlines last week, Chris Russell’s Dawn update at the Exploration Science Forum at NASA Ames reminded us that the other dwarf planets are also sharing their secrets with eager scientists.

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Broken Bottle Strut Likely Doomed Falcon 9 Rocket, Says Elon Musk

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/20 05:05 CDT | 3 comments

The demise of an ISS-bound Falcon 9 rocket last month was likely caused by a broken liquid helium bottle strut, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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DSCOVR mission releases first EPIC global view of Earth, more to come in September

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/20 02:33 CDT | 12 comments

Five months after its launch, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission has successfully journeyed to the region of space where Sun and Earth gravitational attraction offset each other. From the vantage point of L1, DSCOVR's EPIC camera has captured its first full-globe view of Earth, and it's well, epic.

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New Horizons: Awaiting the data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/19 11:21 CDT | 32 comments

New Horizons' encounter and data downlinks have been going exactly as planned, but the raw image website has not been updated for many days. What's going on? I found out.

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OSIRIS-REx – Testing In Progress

Posted by Annie Wargetz on 2015/07/17 03:12 CDT

While the OLA, OCAMS, and REXIS instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continue working towards their deliveries, other hardware onsite at Lockheed is undergoing testing prior to installation. The hardware is put through tests here on Earth prior to launching into space.

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Report Finds SLS Cost and Schedule Estimates Tight, but on Track

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/17 08:22 CDT | 7 comments

The GAO says NASA is generally doing a good job with cost and schedule estimates for SLS, its new heavy lift rocket. But NASA is also running short on schedule margin as it works to have SLS ready for flight by November 2018.

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Latest New Horizons picture of Charon: oddly familiar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/16 02:45 CDT | 14 comments

The New Horizons team released one more picture from Tuesday's encounter, one of three high-resolution images from a mosaic that crossed the center of Charon's disk, and it took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of.

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LightSail Workshop Recaps Lessons Learned from Test Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/16 04:01 CDT | 3 comments

The LightSail team held a workshop in Pasadena to discuss lessons learned from the test mission and plan for the second flight in 2016.

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First look at New Horizons' Pluto and Charon images: "baffling in a very interesting and wonderful way"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/15 04:42 CDT | 33 comments

Today's press briefing at the Applied Physics Laboratory in California was preceded by hours of New Horizons team members cryptically dropping hints on Twitter at astonishing details in the seven images downlinked since the flyby. The images are, in fact, astonishing, as well as beautiful, surprising, and puzzling.

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New Horizons "phones home" after Pluto flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 09:39 CDT | 7 comments

After a wait of more than 22 hours with no communication, New Horizons "phoned home" precisely on schedule after its flyby of Pluto. The signal was received at 00:52:37 UT | 20:52:37 ET | 17:52:37 PT. As planned, New Horizons returned no images with the Phone Home downlink. But every bit of telemetry indicated that the flyby executed successfully.

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The not-planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 12:48 CDT | 37 comments

Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto, I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.

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New Horizons' best look at Pluto before close approach

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 08:12 CDT | 27 comments

Feast your eyes upon it!

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Pluto minus one day: Very first New Horizons Pluto encounter science results

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/13 12:16 CDT | 15 comments

At a press briefing this morning, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern divulged some extremely preliminary first science results from the New Horizons Pluto encounter. Science results include Pluto's diameter and information on its surface composition and atmospheric escape.

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Zooming in to Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/12 07:31 CDT | 9 comments

In the span of a few days, Pluto and Charon have turned from spots into worlds. The latest images from New Horizons are showing Pluto and Charon to have unique faces, distinct from any other icy worlds in the solar system.

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