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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Rovers Pass 6-Year Milestone as Spirit Halts Extrication to Winter at Troy, Opportunity Cruises to Concepcion Crater

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/01/31 11:00 CST

Five and a half years after they were supposed to be history, the Mars Exploration Rovers celebrated their sixth Earth year on the Red Planet with Opportunity pulling up to a fresh, new crater on the road to Endeavour, and Spirit working on repositioning itself to settle in for the coming Martian winter, and perhaps the rest of its mission.

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Opportunity's thousand-year-old crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/29 10:59 CST

Since leaving Marquette Island on sol 2,122, Opportunity has been barreling southward on her journey toward Endeavour crater. On her horizon for the last several sols has been a very small but very fresh looking crater named Concepci├│n.

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Visitor from JAXA Stops at Planetary Society

Posted by Forest Purnell on 2010/01/29 10:07 CST | 1 comment

The Planetary Society regularly hosts interns and visiting scientists and engineers from world space agencies. Recently, we've had the pleasure of working with JAXA's Toshiaki Takemae.

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Countdown to the Budget...

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2010/01/28 10:12 CST

The world's space community -- and the public -- is awaiting the Obama Administration's new plan for human and robotic space flight. We expect the plan will be unveiled as part of the formal submission to Congress of the Administration's proposed budget for the Federal Government.

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Cassini Aegaeon and Prometheus awesomeness

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/28 12:38 CST

There were many, many treats waiting on the Cassini raw images website this morning. Yesterday, Cassini traversed the G ring, taking photos all the way.

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NASA decides Spirit is henceforth to be a lander

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/26 03:22 CST

There was a press briefing today that announced the official end of efforts to extricate Spirit from her sand trap at Troy. Instead, the rover drivers will now focus on improving the chances that Spirit will survive the coming winter so that she can carry on doing science once the power situation improves in the spring.

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Brief rover update: "We do not believe [Spirit] is extractable."

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/26 11:36 CST

Brief rover update: "We do not believe [Spirit] is extractable."

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CTX and MARCI -- The OTHER Cameras on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2010/01/25 07:45 CST

"What?" you might say, "There are cameras other than HiRISE?" Yes indeed, there are. There are two other cameras aboard MRO: the Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI).

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WISE bags its first near-Earth object, 2010 AB78

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/22 04:14 CST

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) just took its lens cap off on December 29, and posted its "first light" image on January 6. Now, just two weeks later, WISE has bagged its first near-Earth object.

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Mars and a moonbow

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/21 04:00 CST

Moonbows represent the same phenomenon as rainbows, it's just that the light from the Sun has reflected off of the Moon first before it's separated into its colors by the myriad tiny water droplets in the cloud.

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Ted Stryk: Report #2 from New Horizons science team meeting

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2010/01/20 06:33 CST

Second report by Ted Stryk from New Horizons science team meeting. Major topic was the search for Kuiper belt object (KBO) targets.

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Your chance to shoot your own high-resolution pictures of Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/20 11:48 CST

The HiRISE public suggestion tool, called HiWish, is a Web site that allows you to log in and select a spot on Mars as a suggestion for where the HiRISE instrument should take an image.

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Ted Stryk: Report from New Horizons science team meeting

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2010/01/19 07:55 CST

The New Horizons science team is meeting this week. Ted Stryk was invited to attend the meeting, and he sent the following notes from the first day.

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Figuring out the shape of Mars (and other places)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/19 01:31 CST

An amateur named Bernhard Braun ("nirgal" on unmannedspaceflight) has been posting the results from a new piece of software he's developed that generates 3-D models of landscapes from single photos.

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What about the non-imaging data from spacecraft?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/18 10:48 CST

Data from all science instruments on all of NASA's and ESA's space missions, not just cameras, is archived in the Planetary Data System and Planetary Science Archive, and almost all of that data is available online.

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Buttoning up the Mars Orbiter Camera science investigation

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/15 04:21 CST

The science team for Mars Orbiter Camera, or "MOC" (pronounced "mock") has just published a paper that attempts to summarize an investigation that spanned more than two decades.

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Just a Few More Approaches to Try for Extrication

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 10:09 CST

"The list of remaining maneuvers being considered for extricating Spirit is becoming shorter."

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Highlights from the January 1, 2010 Cassini imaging data release

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 03:43 CST

The January 1, 2010 Cassini imaging data release includes everything acquired by Cassini from January 1 to March 30, 2009 in all its high-quality glory.

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ESA mission analyst suggests 2010 AL30 might be Venus Express rocket

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 10:30 CST

2010 AL30 zipped past us harmlessly about five hours ago. Because of its one-year orbital period, many people speculated it might be a manmade object, but 2010 AL30 might, in fact, be artificial.

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Goldstone detects "STRONG" radar echoes from 2010 AL30

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/12 10:05 CST

Radio scientist Lance Benner posted to the Minor Planets Mailing list this evening the following message: "We have detected STRONG radar echoes from 2010 AL30 at Goldstone."

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