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Io and Jupiter from Voyager 1

Emily Lakdawalla • January 31, 2011

Here's an image I've been meaning to post for months, a new mosaic from Voyager 1 by Ted Stryk of Io crossing Jupiter's terminator as it neared closest approach.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Celebrates 7 Years of Exploration

A.J.S. Rayl • January 31, 2011

Seven years ago this month, Spirit bounced down onto the surface of the Red Planet, rolled to a stop upright, and beeped home, ready to roll. Three weeks later, Opportunity not only bounced down safely and right into a small crater, but opened its "eyes" to see what the Mars Exploration Rovers had been sent to find signs that water had once flowed there.

Uranus and Challenger

Emily Lakdawalla • January 28, 2011

In the past week there have been 25th anniversaries of two events in 1986, one great, one terrible: the closest approach of Voyager 2 to Uranus on January 24, and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger upon liftoff on January 28.

Butterfly crater on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • January 27, 2011

I've spent the day noodling around in the current issue of Icarus, following up some of the more interesting stories within its table of contents, and came across a picture of this very cool crater -- actually, set of craters -- on Mars.

Stardust update: Tempel 1 Ahoy!

Emily Lakdawalla • January 26, 2011

It is with great relief that I now report that JPL announced this evening the sighting of Tempel 1 by Stardust, a mere month before the planned flyby.

IKAROS: self-portrait with Venus; primary mission complete

Emily Lakdawalla • January 26, 2011

JAXA posted a report today stating that IKAROS "has completed its regular operations."

Animation of Phobos rotating from recent Mars Express flyby images

Emily Lakdawalla • January 25, 2011

Daniel Macháček has colorized some terrific images of Phobos and run them through some morphing software to make a seamless animation that appears to show Phobos rotating before you.

Report from the 2011 New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Ted Stryk • January 24, 2011

The annual New Horizons Science Team Meeting was held last week at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Stardust update: Tempel 1 not yet spotted by spacecraft, hopefully next week

Emily Lakdawalla • January 22, 2011

A new update has been posted to the Stardust website: The spacecraft continues to operate as expected and all subsystems are healthy on approach to comet Tempel 1.

Mars Express' January 2011 Phobos images show how camera works

Emily Lakdawalla • January 21, 2011

The Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) team has just released several images from the most recent series of Phobos flybys to the Mars Express blog.

Nanosail-D released into space

Louis D. Friedman • January 21, 2011

NASA's Nanosail-D spacecraft surprised everyone, including its controllers, by suddenly deploying from its parent FASTSAT spacecraft and beginning its mission in space.

It's Alive! It's Alive!

Charlene Anderson • January 20, 2011

It was once thought lost in space, but it looks like NanoSail-D has ejected from its FastSat carrier and is preparing for deployment.

Two fine color Cassini animations: Prometheus rotating, Tethys and Dione dancing

Emily Lakdawalla • January 20, 2011

Daniel Macháček has reached into the dark side of Prometheus and pulled out an incredible amount of detail where the potato-shaped moon is illuminated by Saturnshine. He produced an animation that morphs among the three sets of four-filter color images that Cassini snapped during the flyby.

Stardust prepares for first second look at a comet: Tempel 1 on February 14

Emily Lakdawalla • January 19, 2011

A press briefing was held at NASA Headquarters this morning to preview the planned February 14 encounter by Stardust with Tempel 1. There aren't often lots of questions from media after these "preview" briefings, but today there were zero. That's not good.

Rosetta burns for its comet

Emily Lakdawalla • January 18, 2011

Rosetta -- Europe's comet-chasing spacecraft -- is in the middle of a three-day series of rocket firings that are setting the geometry for its rendezvous with comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

A Worldwide Game of "Telephone" Distorts NASA Meeting

Charlene Anderson • January 18, 2011

In the last couple of weeks, media outlets around the world have been reporting that NASA recently convened a private meeting at JPL to identify the worst movies ever made, scientifically speaking. It seemed like a good story. The problem was that it wasn't true.

Radar topographic view of a volcano

Emily Lakdawalla • January 17, 2011

Quick -- where is this? Is it one of Venus' iconic volcanoes? Or maybe Mars'?

Another scientific clarification: Vanth probably not half the mass of Orcus

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2011

Earlier this week I got all excited about the Orcus-Vanth system. It turns out there was a math error in the version of the paper that I read, which resulted in the notion that Vanth could be nearly as big as Orcus.

Scientific clarification: "inverted topography" is more general than "esker-like features"

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2011

In the past couple of months I've received several emails from scientists offering clarifications, corrections, or alternative points of view to previous posts, which is awesome and something that I enthusiastically encourage. Here's one of them.

2010 JL33: How to see an asteroid from quite a long way away

Emily Lakdawalla • January 13, 2011

A terrific set of Goldstone radar images of a good-sized near-Earth asteroids named 2010 JL33 was posted to the JPL website yesterday. They also posted a movie version but something about these pixelated radar image series absolutely begs for them to be displayed as an old-school animated GIF, so I made one.

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