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Blast from the Past: Spirit's tracks at the "End of the Rainbow"

Emily Lakdawalla • April 09, 2013

Doug Ellison shared this lovely panorama via Twitter over the weekend. It's from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, taken back in 2004. The drunken path in the foreground is a visual record of just how exciting it was for Spirit to have finally made it to the Columbia Hills, and to rocks that were not fragments of basalt.

Why can Hubble get detailed views of distant galaxies but not of Pluto?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2013

How come Hubble's pictures of galaxies billions of light years away are so beautifully detailed, yet the pictures of Pluto, which is so much closer, are just little blobs? I get asked this question, or variations of it, a lot. Here's an explainer.

A new rover self-portrait and a new color image of Curiosity from orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2013

Curiosity is inching her way through her first use of the drill on a Martian rock. She paused in the proceedings to capture a second Martian "selfie."

Pretty picture: new HiRISE view of Curiosity, sol 145

Emily Lakdawalla • January 16, 2013

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a new view of Curiosity on Mars on January 2 (sol 145). Curiosity was in the same location as the one from which it shot the sol 137 panorama I posted earlier. You can see the rover's tracks leading all the way back to the landing site!

Watch Planetary Radio LIVE on Saturday!

Mat Kaplan • December 15, 2012

Watch the live show at 2pm Pacific on Saturday, December 15 to see Bill Nye, Emily Lakdawalla and the leaders of the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission.

Planetary Radio: A Dawn Mission Update

Mat Kaplan • November 20, 2012

A Planetary Radio status report from the Dawn mission's Marc Rayman, accompanied by a fascinating video tour of Marc's at-home collection of space information and memorabilia.

Visiting Viking at Seattle's Museum of Flight

Tom Dahl • November 14, 2012

One of the nicest aerospace museums in the United States is the Museum of Flight, outside Seattle, Washington. I traveled cross-country in order to visit the "Flight Capsule 3" Viking lander, a backup unit that was never completed. Its partially built state exposes its internal structures, making it a boon to study.

Curiosity, Endeavour, and Bill Nye on Your Phone

Mat Kaplan • November 07, 2012

This week's Planetary Radio episode presents highlights of the first Curiosity press briefing about the Martian atmosphere, and then takes you to the opening day ceremony for Shuttle Endeavour. You have till Friday, November 9, at 10am Pacific to send your 10th anniversary message to the show and possibly win Bill Nye on your answering machine.

Pretty picture: Late afternoon in Gale Crater

Emily Lakdawalla • October 09, 2012

Curiosity shot a lovely panoramic view of the distant rim of Gale crater in the dramatic lighting of late afternoon on sol 49. Damien Bouic has colorized it, and it is beautiful.

Endeavour's final mission has begun

Emily Lakdawalla • September 19, 2012

Piggybacked on the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905, Endeavour has departed Florida for the last time. Her journey will take her to Los Angeles, where she'll begin a new and different kind of mission at the California Science Center.

Curiosity sol 38 update: arm tests done, on the road again, and an important question answered

Emily Lakdawalla • September 14, 2012

Curiosity has completed Commissioning Activity Period 2 and is on the road again. I asked Daniel Limonadi to explain a couple of the photos of tests being performed on CHIMRA, and took the opportunity to ask him an amusing question that came up during a previous Google+ Hangout.

Pretty Picture: Eagle's Landing

Emily Lakdawalla • September 13, 2012

Amateur image processor Tom Dahl's spectacularly high-resolution version of Buzz Aldrin's panoramic view of the Apollo 11 landing site.

MAHLI sees Curiosity's wheels firmly on Martian ground

Emily Lakdawalla • September 10, 2012

MAHLI opened its "eye" on sol 33, seeing Mars clearly for the first time. On sol 34, Curiosity used MAHLI to survey the parts that Mastcam can't see, including a view right underneath the rover.

Hello, beautiful!

Emily Lakdawalla • September 07, 2012

Curiosity's much-anticipated self-portrait with the MAHLI camera just arrived on Earth, and even though it was shot through the dust cover it is AWESOME.

HiRISE's best view of Curiosity yet

Emily Lakdawalla • August 31, 2012

HiRISE's best opportunity to view Curiosity so far came 12 days after landing, when the orbiter passed nearly directly overhead. The photo resolves amazing detail on the huge rover.

An unheralded anniversary

Emily Lakdawalla • August 28, 2012

Yesterday, August 27th, 2012, was, in a sense, the 50th anniversary of interplanetary travel. Fifty years ago yesterday, Mariner 2 launched toward Venus, and became the first object to leave Earth and travel to another world.

Chang'e 2: The Full Story

Bill Gray • August 25, 2012

An update on China's second lunar orbiter, Chang'e 2, which is now heading for asteroid Toutatis.

Curiosity sol 15 update: Wheel wiggles, arm flexes, and bad news about REMS

Emily Lakdawalla • August 21, 2012

Notes from this morning's press conference. Curiosity has successfully steered the corner wheels and deployed and restowed the robotic arm. ChemCam tests went well over the weekend. But one of the two wind speed sensors in REMS appears to have suffered permanent damage during landing.

First full-resolution MARDI frame: Bye-bye, heat shield

Emily Lakdawalla • August 07, 2012

The thumbnail versions of the Mars Descent Imager images have shown up on the Curiosity raw images page, and hiding among them was a single full-resolution frame containing the heat shield.

First look at Curiosity MARDI's descent animation (WOW WOW)

Emily Lakdawalla • August 06, 2012

Even a preliminary, low-resolution, low-frame-rate version of Curiosity's descent imager animation of the arrival on Mars contains almost more awesome than I can stand.

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