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.
Space probes grant us perspective, the ability to see our place within the vastness of the solar system. But opportunities to see all of the solar system's planets in one observation are rare. In fact, there's only been one opportunity on one mission to see the whole solar system at once, until now.
I've got a new column in the Planetary Society's member magazine, The Planetary Report, called "Snapshots from Space," highlighting really cool amateur-processed images. I'm excited to have the opportunity to help these people get their work published!
In the past week there have been 25th anniversaries of two events in 1986, one great, one terrible: the closest approach of Voyager 2 to Uranus on January 24, and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger upon liftoff on January 28.
Following up on the story I first posted on August 22, the Jupiter impact fireball first noticed by Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa has been independently confirmed by two other Japanese astronomers.