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Mars' chemical history: Phyllosian, Theiikian, Siderikian, oh my

Emily Lakdawalla • December 05, 2013

I'm returning to the deep dive into the literature that began with articles about lunar basins and then explored the geologic time scales of Earth, Moon, and Mars. Now it's time to catch up to the last decade of Mars research and learn what "phyllosian", "theiikian", and "siderikian" eras are.

Ten years since Spirit's launch

Emily Lakdawalla • June 10, 2013

Ten years ago, Spirit launched on a Delta II rocket toward Mars, and I was there to see it.

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.

Webcast Tonight! Planetary Scientist and Society President Jim Bell

Mat Kaplan • February 20, 2013

Professor Bell's topic is "Exploring Mars, the Moon, Asteroids, and Comets with Rovers and Landers," and there is no one better to talk about this subject.

Columbia, ten years on

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2013

Remembering Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon on the tenth anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Columbia.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout, Thu Jan 3 1200PT/2000UT: Jim Bell

Emily Lakdawalla • January 02, 2013

Join Emily Lakdawalla and Casey Dreier for a chat with Jim Bell, a scientist who wears many hats. He's the team lead for the Pancam color cameras on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers; he's a member of the Curiosity science team; and he's the esteemed President of the Planetary Society's Board of Directors. We'll talk about the great science being done by both Curiosity and Opportunity, and about what's in store for the future.

Curiosity in context: Not exactly "Viking on wheels," but close

Emily Lakdawalla • November 21, 2011

As I was beginning my research for my two magazine articles on the Curiosity rover's upcoming mission to Mars, I needed to figure out for myself how exactly this gigantic, ungainly machine fit in to the context of past Martian missions.

In their own words

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

While doing my daily reading today I was struck by the awesomeness of two recent blog posts. Both were composed not by professional bloggers like me but by professional space explorers, one a scientist and the other an engineer.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Closes in on Endeavour as Team Bids Farewell to Spirit

A.J.S. Rayl • July 31, 2011

Opportunity seemed to sail with the wind behind her back toward the western rim of Endeavour Crater this month as the Mars Exploration Rover team shifted gears in preparation for a whole new adventure, taking time out only to bid a final farewell both privately and publicly to Spirit.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Roves Back into Record Books, Spirit is Honored

A.J.S. Rayl • June 30, 2011

Opportunity 'burned up' the Meridiani Plains in June as it raced toward its much-anticipated next destination and the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission cruised into the 90th month of what was originally to have been a 90-day tour.

In Memory of Spirit, and Why Cuteness Matters

Melissa Rice • June 15, 2011

An analysis of "cuteness," and why it matters when talking about science.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Mission Declared Over, Opportunity Roves Closer to Endeavour

A.J.S. Rayl • May 31, 2011

The Mars Exploration mission suffered the loss of Spirit and shifted to one-rover operations in May, but Opportunity carried on, blasting across the plains of Meridiani to within 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of its next major destination and discovery.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: NASA Ends Spirit Mission

A.J.S. Rayl • May 26, 2011

The intensified effort to recover Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Spirit came to an end early Wednesday morning Pacific time and NASA has now transitioned the mission to a single-rover operation focused on Spirit's still-active twin, Opportunity.

A picture of Spirit that's too poetical for words

Emily Lakdawalla • May 25, 2011

Yesterday, I remarked that despite the declaration of her death we'll be seeing Spirit frequently over the next few years, as long as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still monitoring her landing site with its HiRISE camera. I said that Spirit is a lump that's relatively easy to spot because of her dark shadow. Well, Spirit's managed to make herself even easier to spot than that.

Sad news for Spirit: It's All Over But the Crying

Emily Lakdawalla • May 24, 2011

Alicia Chang reported today that, according to project manager John Callas, the last attempt to uplink a command to the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will be made tomorrow. NASA will cease listening for signals from Spirit on Tuesday.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Recovery Attempt Continues, Opportunity Sprints to Endeavour

A.J.S. Rayl • April 30, 2011

As Opportunity drove her little robot heart out, breaking the 28-kilometer mark on her odometer, and driving the longest backward drive ever, April proved to be another month of exhilarating highs for the Mars Exploration Rover mission and one extended low with only silence from Spirit, despite intensified efforts by her Earth crew to establish contact.

What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • March 31, 2011

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.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit's Silence Haunts, Opportunity Roves on to Endeavour

A.J.S. Rayl • March 31, 2011

The Mars Exploration Rover mission experienced a month of highs tempered by one haunting low as it neared completion of its 87th month of a three-month tour this month. While Opportunity wrapped up its work at the youngest, freshest crater the rovers have explored to date, Spirit remained silent as the point of maximum sunshine for the Martian year came and went, further dimming once high hopes that the rover would phone home and rove on as summer settled on the southern hemisphere of Mars.

LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Ted Stryk • March 10, 2011

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Efforts to Recover Spirit Expand as Opportunity Wraps Up Work at Santa Maria

A.J.S. Rayl • February 28, 2011

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission emerged from its third solar conjunction this month and, as March roars in, is embarking on its 86th month on the Red Planet. While Opportunity roved away from a surface target it had been studying at Santa Maria Crater and on to an intriguing blue boulder, JPL engineers on Earth stepped up their efforts to recover Spirit, which has been silent, ostensibly in hibernation mode, since late March, nearly one year ago.

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