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DPS 2015: Solar System Formation

Posted by Erika NesvoldJohn Debes on 2015/11/20 05:47 CST | 2 comments

At the 47th Division of Planetary Systems meeting, many presentations touched on some of the most contentious and poorly known aspects of how planets form.

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Watch the entire Cassini mission image catalog as a movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/20 09:43 CST | 2 comments

If you were to download the entire catalog of photos taken at Saturn to date by Cassini and then animate them like a flipbook, how long would it take to watch them all pass by? The Wall Street Journal's Visual Correspondent Jon Keegan has your answer: nearly four hours.

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Two JAXA mission updates: Akatsuki Venus orbit entry and PROCYON Earth flyby coming up!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/19 05:51 CST

Akatsuki is finally approaching its second attempt to enter Venus orbit, on December 7; let's all wish JAXA the best of luck! And PROCYON, whose ion engines have failed, is still an otherwise perfectly functional spacecraft that is taking photos of Earth and the Moon as it approaches for a flyby.

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United Launch Alliance Unveils New CubeSat Carrier Program

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/19 01:14 CST

United Launch Alliance plans to include a CubeSat carrier on nearly every one of its Atlas V and Vulcan rockets starting in 2017, the company announced today.

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DPS 2015: A little science from Rosetta, beyond perihelion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/18 07:47 CST | 2 comments

Updated numbers for physical properties of the comet, and a few interesting images of surface features and surface changes on Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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At NASA's Johnson Space Center, Preparing for the Future of Human Spaceflight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/18 12:00 CST | 1 comments

As NASA kicks off a multi-decadal effort to send humans to Mars, the agency's traditional human spaceflight centers have had to adapt to new challenges—often more programmatic than technical.

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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/16 01:31 CST | 4 comments

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

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OSIRIS-REx Progressing Through Environmental Testing

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/11/16 07:49 CST | 3 comments

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make steady progress toward launch in September 2016. Environmental testing is now underway to ensure the spacecraft is ready for the many conditions it will experience over its mission.

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Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Lesser-Known Beauty

Posted by Adam Block on 2015/11/13 05:24 CST

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares stunning images of a few rarely-imaged pieces of our universe.

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DPS 2015: First reconnaissance of Ceres by Dawn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/12 08:55 CST | 7 comments

This is the first major meeting since Dawn's arrival at Ceres, and despite competition with Pluto surface science there was a well-attended Ceres talk session on Monday and poster session on Tuesday.

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SpaceX Completes Crew Dragon Propulsion System Development Testing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/11 12:21 CST

SpaceX has completed development testing on its SuperDraco propulsion system, used to propel the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft away from a Falcon rocket in the event of a launch failure.

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Detecting Dust Devils with Insight

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/11/11 11:29 CST

Planetary scientist and dust devil expert Ralph Lorenz describes how the upcoming Mars InSight lander's sensitive seismometer might be able to detect dust devils.

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DPS 2015: Pluto's small moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra [UPDATED]

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/10 02:18 CST | 7 comments

For my first post on results from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, I'm going to tell you about Pluto's small moons: Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra, their bright colors and wacky rotation states.

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Could Sino-U.S. cooperation bring The Martian home?

Posted by Yong-Chun Zheng on 2015/11/10 01:03 CST | 1 comments

In the The Martian, NASA astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. At a critical moment, China offers to help the U.S. bring him back to Earth. But can these two countries cooperate to explore space in reality?

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Bill Nye’s “Unstoppable” Book & New Greatest Generation

Posted by Erin Greeson on 2015/11/10 08:00 CST | 9 comments

In his new book, “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World,” Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye addresses a “New Greatest Generation” -- today’s young leaders who embrace science and optimism for a viable future.

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A Day in the Solar System: 28 October 2015

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/11/09 07:44 CST | 5 comments

On October 28th, the Cassini spacecraft flew through the geyser plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus. But Cassini was not the only spacecraft operating in the solar system that day.

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Reporting from the 47th annual Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting, DPS15

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/08 05:54 CST

I'll be reporting all week from Washington, D.C. from the 47th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. Expect lots of news from New Horizons, Dawn, Cassini, MAVEN, WISE, and Rosetta missions, not to mention ground-based telescopes, plus a variety of other sources.

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In Pictures: Orion, SLS Hardware on the Move

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/06 11:53 CST

November is shaping up to be a busy month for Orion and Space Launch System hardware. A human-rated flight engine is in the test stand at Stennis Space Center, and a version of Orion's service module is getting ready to cross the Atlantic.

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Jupiter Weather Report: 2014/15 Apparition

Posted by Leigh Fletcher on 2015/11/05 01:44 CST

A summary of Jupiter's changing face as seen from Earth during its 2014/2015 apparition.

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ESA mission updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/04 07:15 CST

There have been several important pieces of news about European missions in the last month: Rosetta's fate has been determined; ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's launch is slightly delayed; and they have selected a landing site for the ExoMars rover.

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