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New Horizons extended mission target selected

Posted by Emily LakdawallaCasey Dreier on 2015/09/01 06:09 CDT | 6 comments

The New Horizons mission has formally selected its next target after Pluto: a tiny, dim, frozen world currently named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will perform a series of four rocket firings in October and November to angle its trajectory to pass close by 2014 MU69 in early January 2019. In so doing, New Horizons will become the first flyby craft to pass by a target that was not discovered before the spacecraft launched.

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Populating the OSIRIS-REx Science Deck

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/09/01 02:34 CDT | 1 comments

The assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues, with many elements integrated onto the spacecraft ahead of schedule. Last month both OTES and OVIRS were delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the science deck.

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Dropping Orion in the Desert: NASA Completes Key Parachute Test

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/27 01:05 CDT | 2 comments

NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed a key parachute test Aug. 26 at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

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Field Report from Mars: Sol 4119 - August 26, 2015

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2015/08/26 02:53 CDT

Opportunity is moving down into a large valley that cuts through the rim of Endeavour crater, into some interesting scenery.

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Webcomic: Poetry in space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/26 10:11 CDT | 4 comments

Take a delightful, pixelated journey with French artist Boulet as he explains his love for the "infinite void" of the "mathematical skies."

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Three space fan visualizations of New Horizons' Pluto-Charon flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/25 01:42 CDT | 4 comments

It has been a difficult wait for new New Horizons images, but the wait is almost over; Alan Stern announced at today's Outer Planets Advisory Group meeting that image downlink will resume September 5. In the meantime, a few space fans are making the most of the small amount of data that has been returned to date.

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Outer Planet News

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/08/25 08:20 CDT | 6 comments

NASA's Outer Planet Analysis Group is currently meeting to hear the agency's current plans and to provide the feedback of the scientific community on those plans.

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Galileo's best pictures of Jupiter's ringmoons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/24 07:07 CDT | 4 comments

People often ask me to produce one of my scale-comparison montages featuring the small moons of the outer solar system. I'd love to do that, but Galileo's best images of Jupiter's ringmoons lack detail compared to Cassini's images from Saturn.

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[Updated] The United States of Space Advocates

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/08/24 06:25 CDT | 5 comments

See which states have the highest number of space advocates writing Congress and the White House to support planetary exploration.

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Dawn Journal: Mapping Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/08/22 01:05 CDT | 48 comments

More than two centuries after its discovery, Ceres is being mapped in great detail by the Dawn spacecraft. Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update on Dawn's progress.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Long Exposures

Posted by Adam Block on 2015/08/21 04:11 CDT

Astrophotographer Adam Block brings us images showcasing beauty in details requiring extended exposures to capture.

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An August Moment to Check in on NASA’s Budget and Future

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/08/20 06:42 CDT | 1 comments

It’s August. Congress is out of session. Things are quiet. It’s as good a time as any to check in on several issues we’ve been following here at the Society, particularly with NASA’s budget prospects for the year and the future of human spaceflight policy.

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Roving Mars—In Utah

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/08/19 08:14 CDT

Students gather in the desert to answer the University Rover Challenge, pushing the limits of the tech that will drive future Mars exploration.

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The story behind Curiosity's self-portraits on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/19 03:52 CDT | 2 comments

How and why does Curiosity take self-portraits? A look at some of the people and stories behind Curiosity's "selfies" on the occasion of the official release of the sol 1065 belly pan self-portrait at Buckskin, below Marias Pass, Mars.

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No Major Problems with SLS Design, NASA Managers Say

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/19 06:31 CDT | 3 comments

A key review of NASA’s Space Launch System did not uncover any major problems with the rocket's design, officials said at Stennis Space Center near Gulfport, Mississippi.

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LightSail Lands New Hardware for Laser Ranging

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/18 08:16 CDT | 2 comments

A cluster of small mirrors will be added to LightSail's aft hull to allow engineers to precisely track its position as it sails around the planet next year.

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Curiosity update, sols 1012-1072: Sciencing back and forth below Marias Pass

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/14 07:14 CDT

Since my last update, Curiosity has driven back and forth repeatedly across a section of rocks below Marias pass. The rover finally drilled at a spot named Buckskin on sol 1060, marking the drill's return to operations after suffering a short on sol 911. Now the rover is driving up into Marias Pass and onto the Washboard or Stimson unit.

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SLS Engine Roars through Flight Test in Mississippi

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/13 04:48 CDT | 6 comments

NASA completed the sixth and next-to-last test firing of its RS-25 engine Thursday in Mississippi. Four RS-25 engines power the Space Launch System core stage.

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ESA's cool new interactive comet visualization tool based on amateur imaging work with open data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/13 01:49 CDT | 2 comments

A terrific new visualization tool for comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko demonstrates the value of sharing mission image data with the public. The browser-based tool lets you spin a simulated 3D view of the comet. It began with a 3D model of the comet created not by ESA, but by a space enthusiast, Mattias Malmer.

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Community service: Vetting my local library's children's space books

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/12 07:31 CDT | 8 comments

Space fans, here is a valuable community service that you can perform in your neighborhood: Vet your school library's space book collections. My kids' elementary school librarian asked me to take a look at the nonfiction space book collection and cull any outdated or just wrong books. I culled quite a few, and am now recommending some replacements.

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