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Blog Archive


Transient hot spots on Venus: Best evidence yet for active volcanism

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/18 06:42 CDT | 3 comments

In a paper released in Geophysical Research Letters today, Eugene Shalygin and coauthors have announced the best evidence yet for current, active volcanism on Venus. The evidence comes from the Venus Monitoring Camera, which saw transient hot spots in four locations along a system of rifts near Venus' equator. They saw the hot spots in two distinct episodes in 2008 and 2009.

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Tracking a Ghost Mission 238 Million Km Away

Posted by Daniel Scuka on 2015/01/10 09:14 CST | 2 comments

Daniel Scuka describes the impending demise of the Venus Express spacecraft.

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Brief Venus Express update: Not quite dead yet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/11 07:06 CST | 1 comments

Venus Express is still alive and talking to Earth, but may fall into Venus' atmosphere in January.

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Close to the end for Venus Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/24 02:42 CST

Venus Express is nearly out of fuel. Any day could be the last of its long mission to Venus.

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Skimming the inner planets: Updates on MESSENGER and Venus Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/24 11:52 CDT | 1 comments

The two spacecraft currently orbiting the two innermost planets are both flying low in their orbits in the final phases of their missions. MESSENGER just performed a rocket burn to raise its orbit slightly, while Venus Express did the opposite.

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Venus Express science mission ends; aerobraking experiment beginning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/16 03:33 CDT | 4 comments

Venus Express, currently the only spacecraft orbiting our nearest planetary neighbor, will soon meet a fiery end in Venus' atmosphere. But its work isn't over yet. ESA will maneuver Venus Express to dip into the uppermost Venus atmosphere and study how the spacecraft responds to atmospheric pressure, giving ESA valuable experience in aerobraking.

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LPSC 2014: The Curious Case of Active Volcanism on Venus

Posted by Constantine Tsang on 2014/04/01 12:10 CDT | 5 comments

She’s alive! She’s alive! Or is she? A little more than a week ago, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2014, evidence was presented that Venus was geologically active, not in the recent past, like 100,000 years ago, but right now.

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Intro Astronomy Class 5: Venus (continued) and Mars

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/06 10:49 CST

Continue exploring Venus and begin looking at Mars in this video of class 5 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Intro Astronomy Class 4: Eclipses, Mercury, Venus-Earth-Mars Atmospheres, Venus

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/28 01:30 CST

This video of class 4 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class discusses eclipses, Mercury, Venus, and a comparison of the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars.

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Polar vortices across the solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/09 11:49 CST | 2 comments

Earth's polar vortex has been in the American news all week. But we're not the only planet that has one; basically every world that has an atmosphere has a polar vortex. Here are lots of pretty pictures and animations of polar vortices.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 4: Heaven & Hell
In which face the consequences of our own knowledge

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/11/04 11:53 CST | 7 comments

Humans face the consequences of our own knowledge about the cosmos in this latest episode recap and analysis of Carl Sagan's classic series.

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Results of ten Venus years of cloud tracking by Venus Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/29 10:55 CDT | 5 comments

What Venus Express' Visual Monitoring Camera images of Venus have taught us about the motions of Venus' atmosphere.

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One Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/04/08 09:12 CDT | 4 comments

Dispatches from five different worlds--all sent by robotic spacecraft on the same day.

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What's up in the Solar System in August 2012

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/08/03 06:03 CDT

Welcome to the monthly roundup of our solar system's envoy of electronic explorers! All eyes are on Curiosity as it approaches Mars this weekend. Who will lend support at the Red Planet?

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What's Up in the Solar System in June 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/31 07:04 CDT | 2 comments

This month, Opportunity is roving again, while Curiosity approaches Mars; Cassini's finally seeing rings, and will fly by Mimas, Titan, and Tethys; GRAIL has completed its primary mission and is journeying toward the second; Dawn is climbing to the HAMO2 orbit; and a rare transit of Venus is coming up on June 5/6.

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Venus Express star trackers recovered

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/09 07:18 CST

Just a quick note because I didn't want to let the weekend go by without telling people that Venus Express' star trackers are back online.

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Good news, bad news: GRAIL science underway, Venus Express suffers storm damage

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/08 06:54 CST

Two brief mission updates. First, the good news: NASA announced yesterday that the twin GRAIL spacecraft have begun the science phase of the mission, transmitting precisely timed signals to each other in order to map the Moon's gravity field. The bad news: according to ESA, since the recent solar storm passed Venus, both of Venus Express' star trackers are suddenly unable to detect stars.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT

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.

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