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Broken Bottle Strut Likely Doomed Falcon 9 Rocket, Says Elon Musk

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/20 05:05 CDT | 3 comments

The demise of an ISS-bound Falcon 9 rocket last month was likely caused by a broken liquid helium bottle strut, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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DSCOVR mission releases first EPIC global view of Earth, more to come in September

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/20 02:33 CDT | 12 comments

Five months after its launch, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission has successfully journeyed to the region of space where Sun and Earth gravitational attraction offset each other. From the vantage point of L1, DSCOVR's EPIC camera has captured its first full-globe view of Earth, and it's well, epic.

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New Horizons: Awaiting the data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/19 11:21 CDT | 32 comments

New Horizons' encounter and data downlinks have been going exactly as planned, but the raw image website has not been updated for many days. What's going on? I found out.

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OSIRIS-REx – Testing In Progress

Posted by Annie Wargetz on 2015/07/17 03:12 CDT

While the OLA, OCAMS, and REXIS instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continue working towards their deliveries, other hardware onsite at Lockheed is undergoing testing prior to installation. The hardware is put through tests here on Earth prior to launching into space.

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Report Finds SLS Cost and Schedule Estimates Tight, but on Track

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/17 08:22 CDT | 7 comments

The GAO says NASA is generally doing a good job with cost and schedule estimates for SLS, its new heavy lift rocket. But NASA is also running short on schedule margin as it works to have SLS ready for flight by November 2018.

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Latest New Horizons picture of Charon: oddly familiar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/16 02:45 CDT | 14 comments

The New Horizons team released one more picture from Tuesday's encounter, one of three high-resolution images from a mosaic that crossed the center of Charon's disk, and it took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of.

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LightSail Workshop Recaps Lessons Learned from Test Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/16 04:01 CDT | 3 comments

The LightSail team held a workshop in Pasadena to discuss lessons learned from the test mission and plan for the second flight in 2016.

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First look at New Horizons' Pluto and Charon images: "baffling in a very interesting and wonderful way"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/15 04:42 CDT | 33 comments

Today's press briefing at the Applied Physics Laboratory in California was preceded by hours of New Horizons team members cryptically dropping hints on Twitter at astonishing details in the seven images downlinked since the flyby. The images are, in fact, astonishing, as well as beautiful, surprising, and puzzling.

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New Horizons "phones home" after Pluto flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 09:39 CDT | 7 comments

After a wait of more than 22 hours with no communication, New Horizons "phoned home" precisely on schedule after its flyby of Pluto. The signal was received at 00:52:37 UT | 20:52:37 ET | 17:52:37 PT. As planned, New Horizons returned no images with the Phone Home downlink. But every bit of telemetry indicated that the flyby executed successfully.

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The not-planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 12:48 CDT | 37 comments

Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto, I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.

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New Horizons' best look at Pluto before close approach

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 08:12 CDT | 27 comments

Feast your eyes upon it!

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Pluto minus one day: Very first New Horizons Pluto encounter science results

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/13 12:16 CDT | 15 comments

At a press briefing this morning, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern divulged some extremely preliminary first science results from the New Horizons Pluto encounter. Science results include Pluto's diameter and information on its surface composition and atmospheric escape.

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Zooming in to Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/12 07:31 CDT | 9 comments

In the span of a few days, Pluto and Charon have turned from spots into worlds. The latest images from New Horizons are showing Pluto and Charon to have unique faces, distinct from any other icy worlds in the solar system.

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Two more brief mission updates: Philae makes contact; Akatsuki to perform course correction

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/10 09:38 CDT | 6 comments

As a followup to yesterday's post about Dawn, Juno, and OSIRIS-REx, I have updates on two more missions. With this post, I hope to have cleared the decks so that I can focus on Pluto for the next week!

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Three mission updates: Trouble for Dawn at Ceres; A new plan for Juno; OSIRIS-REx coming together

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/09 04:25 CDT | 6 comments

With all the focus on Pluto it's hard to keep up with all the other space missions currently exploring other planets. Here are brief updates on three of them.

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MarCO: Planetary CubeSats Become Real

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/07/08 09:25 CDT | 3 comments

NASA recently announced the Mars Cube One (MarCO) mission, which will fly two CubeSat spacecraft past Mars as part of its larger InSight Mars mission.

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Explore Pluto in Google Earth!

Posted by Alex Parker on 2015/07/08 01:38 CDT | 3 comments

The Pluto encounter team is producing the first maps of Pluto using images collected by New Horizons. You can now easily download the map and explore the best Pluto maps ever made!

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Pushing Back the Frontier: How The Planetary Society Helped Send a Spacecraft to Pluto

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/07 03:44 CDT | 5 comments

It took 16 years and five spacecraft designs to get a mission to Pluto. The Planetary Society was there through it all, always striving to help NASA push back our solar system's frontier.

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New Horizons is a Triumph for Space Advocates
And Europa will be the same

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/07/07 03:40 CDT | 5 comments

New Horizons—what will be NASA’s greatest success of 2015—was cancelled multiple times in its early life, and many times before that in its previous incarnations. A mission to Pluto was not inevitable, despite the overwhelming scientific and public excitement.

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More than 2000 Rosetta NavCam images for your enjoyment

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/07 02:10 CDT | 2 comments

Last week, the European Space Agency released the first set of images from Rosetta's navigational camera, or NavCam, from the phase of the mission that followed the Philae landing. That makes more than 3500 NavCam images that have been released from the comet phase of the mission.

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