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Blog Archive

 

What's up in the solar system for the week of May 5

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/05 02:46 CDT

Here's what's happening on active planetary missions this week.

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What's up in the solar system for the week of April 28

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/04/28 09:56 CDT

I thought it would be fun to start the week by taking stock of what's going on with all the active planetary missions out there.

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Mars Budget Cuts

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2008/03/24 07:20 CDT

Exploring another planet is an expensive business. We all know this, but sometimes it hits home harder than others. Today was one of those times.

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Spirit, seen from space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/03/24 05:46 CDT

The HiRISE instrument on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter really is a spy camera in space. Check out this sequence of nine images from the HiRISE archives, which Doug Ellison pulled together into an animation covering more than a year of Spirit's mission.

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Opportunity watches the clouds drift by

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/02/12 04:11 CST

Opportunity is now following a rather leisurely autumn schedule, according to the latest update on the mission website. Some of the work Opportunity is doing involves staring skyward, looking for patterns in the clouds that pass overhead at this time of year. One of the guys at unmannedspaceflight.com has put together some nifty animations of the wispy cloud patterns.

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Teeny little Bigfoot on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/01/23 01:41 CST | 3 comments

The story of a Sasquatch-shaped rock visible in a recent panorama from Spirit is getting a lot of play in the mainstream media, but fortunately, it's not being taken very seriously. (My favorite take on this picture is the lead from the Times Online story about it: "Is it a rock? A trick of Martian light on the eye? Or Osama Bin Laden waving from his barren hideout 300 million miles from planet Earth?")

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A dusty start to Spirit's winter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/12/14 05:35 CST

Dust from the sky has settled on both the rover deck and the surrounding landscape. The dust-covered solar cells will not be able to generate as much power as when they were clean. Unless a puff of wind dusts off the solar panels, Spirit may have difficulty surviving the approaching Martian winter.

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Skies slowly lightening for Spirit and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/09/07 05:27 CDT

I just received another batch of "tau" images from rover camera lead Jim Bell to add to my visualizations of the rovers' dark skies. These pictures provide a direct measurement of the opacity of the atmosphere between the rovers and the Sun.

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Dust storm update: A rover's-eye-view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/29 05:06 CDT

I haven't written an update on the dust storm at Mars recently for two reasons. For one, the rovers are out of immediate danger, so it wasn't as urgent. The other reason is that Jim Bell wanted Cornell to issue a press release with updated versions of the images and animations I've been putting together from the rovers' "tau" images.

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A little good news on the rovers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/08 10:56 CDT

The skies aren't quite as dark as they have been, for both Spirit and Opportunity. In fact, Spirit has enough power now to be doing a little work with its robotic arm.

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High tau for Spirit and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/30 12:26 CDT

Over the weekend I fiddled with the "tau" images that Mars Exploration Rover Pancam lead Jim Bell gave me, and I produced a couple of different ways to visualize the darkness of the rovers' skies.

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Dust storm update: rovers still OK

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/27 06:37 CDT

The dust storm continues at Mars, but both rovers continue to be power-positive.

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Mars Exploration Rovers update: Spirit and Opportunity are both still talking to Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/23 05:04 CDT

Both Spirit and Opportunity are still suffering under incredibly dark skies, but, amazingly, they are both "power-positive," meaning that they are managing to produce enough power from the limited amount of sunlight to keep the batteries fully charged.

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Spirit gets brushed off

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/06/19 08:59 CDT

There was great news last night from Mars Exploration Rover mission operations: Spirit seems to have enjoyed another "cleaning event."

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New Horizons update and a website roundup

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/02/03 07:33 CST

I've just posted a very detailed timeline of New Horizons' encounter with Jupiter -- take a look!

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New items on the website: Rover update and Stardust@home

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/01 06:54 CDT

I just wanted to point out a couple of new items on the website.

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Get used to this view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/04/19 04:10 CDT

Get used to this view of Home Plate and Husband Hill, because Spirit will be seeing a lot of it over the next 8 months, whenever power levels permit the rover to eke a little bit of science activity out of the day.

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An opportunity for Spirit to see Earth and Venus together?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/26 08:16 CDT

I received the following question by email last week: "Do you know if the Mars rovers team has any plans to photograph Venus and Earth together in the evening sky from either rover site? They will be closest together around Sept. 29th."

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Watching Spirit Launch to Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2003/06/10 09:27 CDT

Spirit has successfully launched to Mars, and I was there with members of the science team to witness it.

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