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Blog Archive


LightSail Deployer Passes Prox-1 Fit Check

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/26 05:03 CDT

At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineers loaded a P-POD replica into the partially assembled frame of the Prox-1 spacecraft. The meetup was a fit check to make sure the two pieces of hardware fit together as designed.

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Why Return to the Columbia Hills?

Posted by Alex Longo on 2015/10/23 01:06 CDT | 10 comments

Where should NASA’s next Mars rover, the Mars 2020 sample caching mission, land? One site under consideration is Spirit's old stomping ground, the Columbia Hills.

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Dawn data from Ceres publicly released: Finally, color global portraits!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/22 03:24 CDT | 4 comments

A few days ago, Dawn officially released the first big pile of data from the Ceres mission phase. Thanks to the public release, I can show you color global portraits of Ceres.

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SLS Sheds White Paint, Completes Critical Design Review

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/22 01:06 CDT | 6 comments

NASA's Space Launch System officially shed the core stage's white paint job in favor of the vehicle's natural, orange-colored insulation.

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Preparing for the Journey to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2015/10/21 10:03 CDT | 1 comments

Deepak Dhingra reports on a planetary analog field trip exploring a very young volcanic terrain in Idaho at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

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Enhanced Cygnus Arrives at KSC ahead of Atlas V-powered Cargo Run

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/20 12:37 CDT | 2 comments

Orbital ATK is a month-and-a-half away from resuming cargo runs to the International Space Station.

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President Obama Highlights Planetary Science Triumphs
But 2016 budget cuts the program by nearly $80 million

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/10/19 07:12 CDT | 4 comments

At the White House Astronomy Night, President Obama highlighted some of the major triumphs of NASA and its planetary science program. Yet his 2016 budget calls for further cuts to the program.

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Zero Dollars for 2016: Two Stalwart Planetary Missions Face a Troubling Future

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/10/19 10:28 CDT | 7 comments

In its 2016 budget request, the White House inexplicably proposed to end two active, scientifically productive planetary missions: the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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Filling in the Enceladus map: Cassini's 20th flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/16 06:19 CDT | 7 comments

A couple of days ago, Cassini flew past Enceladus for its 20th targeted encounter. Cassini has seen and photographed quite a lot of Enceladus before, but there's still new terrain for it to cover.

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The Success of European Rover Challenge

Posted by Łukasz Wilczyński on 2015/10/16 03:21 CDT

In September, the second edition of European Rover Challenge (ERC)—the biggest space and robotics event in Europe—took place in Poland. Who took home the top spot?

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LightSail and Prox-1 Start Testing and Integration Process

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/16 11:25 CDT

On opposite sides of the United States, teams are starting the testing process to prepare two spacecraft for a one-of-a-kind in-space rendezvous.

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NASA-sponsored SmallSats Get Dedicated Rides to Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/14 05:46 CDT

NASA-sponsored small satellites will soon have dedicated rides to space, thanks to a new, light-duty rocket program called Venture Class Launch Services, or VCLS.

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OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Assembly Nearly Complete

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/10/14 03:45 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx mission continues to make great progress and is in the Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of the program. There's been many great accomplishments leading up to this point.

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Favorite Astro Plots #2: Condensation of the solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/14 01:34 CDT | 2 comments

Behold: the story of how our solar system began, in one chart. This is the second installment in a series of planetary scientists' favorite plots. Today's #FaveAstroPlot was suggested by spectroscopist Michael Bramble.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson to Receive Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2015/10/14 12:13 CDT | 1 comments

Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will accept The Planetary Society’s Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science in Pasadena, California on October 24, 2015.

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Charon in 3D

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/13 06:40 CDT | 3 comments

Last week, the pile of New Horizons LORRI camera raw image releases included nine frames from a high-resolution mosaic on Charon. Together with the color MVIC view, they make a 3D global photo of Pluto's moon. Other recently released goodies include a global backlit color image of Pluto and the first image that resolves the tiny moon Styx.

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Mars 2020 and the Adaptive Caching Assembly: An Intern’s Perspective

Posted by Jake Rosenthal on 2015/10/12 02:29 CDT | 10 comments

Jet Propulsion Laboratory summer intern Jake Rosenthal shares his thoughts on the Mars 2020 sample caching technology currently in development.

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NASA's Journey to Mars Report: A Plan to Form a Strategy for a Concept

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/12 05:04 CDT | 6 comments

NASA released a much-anticipated strategy document outlining the agency's next steps for getting humans to Mars, but the report lacks details. What should we make of it?

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Discovery Finalists

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/10/09 07:04 CDT | 6 comments

Van Kane rounds up the missions selected to move onto the next round in NASA's Discovery proposal process.

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Telerobotics: Unifying Human and Robotic Spaceflight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/08 06:03 CDT | 2 comments

Telerobotics—with humans nearby—just might be the perfect unification of human and robotic spaceflight. Two groups at NASA and ESA are working to make this fledgling technology commonplace.

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