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Blog Archive

 

LightSail update: Three steps forward, one step back

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/18 05:55 CDT

The LightSail team has found potential workarounds to solve the spacecraft’s boom deployment problems, but more analysis lies ahead.

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One Number, Two Budgets
The Senate and House have both agreed to increase NASA's budget to $17.9B, but they have very different ways of spending that money

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/17 01:03 CDT | 2 comments

The Senate and House have both agreed to increase NASA's budget to $17.9 billion, but they have very different ways of spending that money. The House bill would add additional funding to almost every category of the Planetary Science budget and would greatly strengthen NASA’s program of planetary exploration. The Senate bill would add substantial funds to the Mars program but pay for this by cuts to other portions of the planetary budget.

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Hubble to the rescue! The last-ditch effort to discover a Kuiper belt target for New Horizons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/17 11:59 CDT | 5 comments

Will New Horizons have a mission after Pluto? Ground-based searches have failed to turn up anything that New Horizons can reach. Now Hubble is joining the search, but time is running out: a discovery must be made within the next two months.

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Curiosity update, sols 645-661: Driving, driving, driving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/16 04:44 CDT

Curiosity has been busy. The rover has traveled more than half a kilometer since my last update, making steady progress beyond the Kimberley toward Murray Buttes. There hasn't been much time for science, but they sneaked in an observation of a Mercury transit across the sun, and a neat MARDI video of the rover driving.

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Is Mainstream Space News Adrift?
The Houston Chronicle has a new, interactive web series on America’s space program. Why don’t we see more space coverage in this format?

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/13 01:38 CDT | 8 comments

The Houston Chronicle has a new, interactive web series on America’s space program. Why don’t we see more space coverage in this format?

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Walking the Blue Carpet with Samsung

Posted by Bill Nye on 2014/06/12 06:32 CDT | 1 comment

Bill Nye reports from the Samsung Hope for Children gala event in New York City.

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The OSIRIS-REx Design Reference Mission

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/12 06:18 CDT

This week the OSIRIS-REx team gathered at the Lockheed Martin facility in Denver to perform a “Design Reference Mission (DRM)” walkthrough. The DRM is basically the battle plan for OSIRIS-REx for accomplishing our goal of returning pristine samples from asteroid Bennu.

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Mars-bound mission updates: Mars Orbiter Mission maneuvers, MAVEN detects Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/11 10:59 CDT | 12 comments

India's Mars Orbiter Mission has accomplished its second trajectory correction manuever, a small rocket burn lasting only 16 seconds. Meanwhile, NASA's MAVEN is testing out its instruments, with one obtaining "first light" on Mars.

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LightSail update: Boom deployment diagnosis continues

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/11 10:57 CDT | 2 comments

The LightSail team continues to investigate problems with the spacecraft’s boom deployment system that postponed a flight system test earlier this month.

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Rosetta update: Both "big burns" completed successfully

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/10 10:16 CDT | 7 comments

Rosetta is now in the final phase of its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a decade-long journey. The two largest burns have now succeeded, and Rosetta reported this morning via Twitter that the second burn was close to perfect.

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A Checkup on Future Mars Missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/09 04:59 CDT | 3 comments

NASA’s Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG) recently reviewed plans by Europe, the Japanese, and NASA for future Mars exploration. The prognosis is for another exciting decade of Mars exploration.

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Building Our Community by Being Part of it

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2014/06/06 05:56 CDT | 1 comment

The last six weeks have been especially busy due to an unusually high number of conferences and festivals, so I thought I'd summarize what's been going on and how The Planetary Society has been involved.

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After decades of silence, a vintage spacecraft says hello to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/06 05:16 CDT

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project has established two-way communication with a 36-year-old spacecraft, but more challenges lie ahead.

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Pretty pictures of the Cosmos

Posted by Adam Block on 2014/06/06 03:01 CDT

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares some of his recent work.

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How CRISM picks the pixels that guide Opportunity's travels

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/05 03:29 CDT | 4 comments

How scientists are working with CRISM, an aging but still exceptional spectrometer on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, to find the rocks where Opportunity's work will tell the story of ancient water on Mars.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Hunts Ancient Clays along Murray Ridge
Sols 3650-3680

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/06/05 10:11 CDT

At the western rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity spent the month of May exploring a new clayground along Murray Ridge and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission trundled into the 125th month of what was originally to be a short, 3-month tour.

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The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun!

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/05 09:54 CDT

The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun! Seeing the core structure being assembled demonstrated that OSIRIS-REx is no longer just a set of drawings and PowerPoint charts, it is starting to become a real spacecraft.

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LightSail update: Flight system test delayed

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/04 05:41 CDT | 2 comments

LightSail's flight system test has been delayed pending resolution of problems that cropped up during deployment of the spacecraft’s solar sail booms.

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[Updated] The Senate Proposes $17.9B for NASA, Matching the House's Increase
Senate committee "deeply disappointed" with the President's budget cut for NASA

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/06/04 05:37 CDT | 2 comments

The Senate released early details about its budget for NASA in 2015. The top-line level, $17.9 billion, is an increase over the President's proposal and matches the level passed by the full House last week.

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Making the Rounds on Capitol Hill

Posted by Bill Nye on 2014/06/04 04:54 CDT | 2 comments

There's an old saying about Washington, D.C.: it’s a small town, based on relationships. We are establishing very good relationships with members of the U.S. Congress and the Administration. Three of us made the rounds recently, going from one Congressional Member’s office to another to support planetary exploration and a mission to Europa. Our team included Casey Dreier, our Director of Advocacy; Bill Adkins, our lobbyist in Washington; and me.

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