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Getting up to speed with Curiosity as of sol 84, and two awesome mosaics

Emily Lakdawalla • October 31, 2012

Curiosity has already spent more than three weeks at Rocknest, working through the very slow process of commissioning the sample handling systems. While parked, she's taken a couple of amazing photo mosaics.

Dawn Journal: Scary-Good Ion Propulsion

Marc Rayman • October 31, 2012

Dawn continues to raise its orbit en route to its 2015 date with Ceres. Also, Marc prepares his high-energy Halloween costume.

PlanetVac: Sucking Up Planetary Regolith

Bruce Betts • October 30, 2012

Learn about the Planetary Society’s newest project: PlanetVac, with Honeybee Robotics, aims to prototype and test in a huge vacuum chamber a new way to sample planetary surfaces that could be used for sample return or for in situ instruments.

Reviews of space-themed story books for children

Emily Lakdawalla • October 29, 2012

In an annual tradition, I review eight children's story books with planetary and astronomy themes. Favorites include Pieces of Another World by Mara Rockliff and Solar System Forecast by Kelly Kizer Whitt.

Hurricane Sandy: Thanks for lives saved already

Emily Lakdawalla • October 29, 2012

Today hurricane Sandy is a major threat to life and property across the west coast of the northern Atlantic ocean. I just want to give thanks in advance to all the people who have devoted their careers to making sure that Americans have sufficient warning of devastating, unstoppable weather events like this one.

DPS 2012: Double occultation by Pluto and Charon

Emily Lakdawalla • October 26, 2012

A few talks at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting discussed observations of a double occultation -- both Pluto and Charon passing in front of the same star.

DPS 2012: Who were you wearing?

Emily Lakdawalla • October 24, 2012

Scientific conferences have become more fun since it suddenly became cool to be a geek. I thoroughly enjoy the "geek uniform" of witty T-shirt and jeans, and did my best to wardrobe myself in relevant geekwear each day of the meeting. This post is for all the people at DPS who asked where my clothes came from.

DPS 2012: Future impact risks

Emily Lakdawalla • October 24, 2012

Continuing my writeup of notes from last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: presentations on the risks of future asteroid impacts. How much risk do we face, and what are the appropriate actions to take in the face of that risk?

Oct. 24 Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour: Special DPS update

Emily Lakdawalla • October 23, 2012

Join me and Fraser Cain for a brief update on Curiosity and other exciting science presented at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, and get your pressing space questions answered! The Google+ Hangout is on Wednesday, October 24, at 16:00 PDT / 23:00 UTC. Note: this one will end about 15 minutes early.

A huge color global view of Dione

Emily Lakdawalla • October 23, 2012

From the Cassini data archives comes a huge (5000 pixels square!) color image of Saturn's icy moon Dione, worth investigating from both near and far.

Book Review: Planetary Surface Processes, by H. Jay Melosh

Emily Lakdawalla • October 23, 2012

Planetary Surface Processes provides a rigorous overview of every process that shapes the appearance of planetary surfaces, and I'll be referring to it to help me explain everything from impact cratering to isostasy.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 3111- October 23, 2012

Larry Crumpler • October 23, 2012

We on the MER Opportunity science team are currently doing an “outcrop walk” with Opportunity on the slopes of Cape York, a small residual part of the rim on the 20+ km diameter Endeavour Crater, Mars.

A dispatch from J-school: two short videos

Jason Davis • October 23, 2012

Two short videos produced by Jason Davis on astronomy and planetary science work taking place at the University of Arizona.

DPS 2012: The most detailed images of Uranus' atmosphere ever

Emily Lakdawalla • October 22, 2012

New ground-based images of Uranus show more finely detailed structure than any photos I have ever seen.

DPS 2012, Day 5: How to make asteroids crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle

Emily Lakdawalla • October 19, 2012

A summary of just one talk from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, by Lindy Elkins-Tanton, which provided a neat explanation for how asteroids can be melted and layered on the inside yet have a primitive-looking exterior.

First Planet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System

Bruce Betts • October 17, 2012

European astronomers have made the first planetary discovery in the closest-to-Earth Alpha Centauri star system. Here is some information about the discovery, and insights from Yale Astronomer Debra Fischer, who leads another Alpha Centauri planet search partially supported by The Planetary Society.

D.C. Visit Update and Member Event Recap

Casey Dreier • October 17, 2012

During my visit to D.C. to discuss Planetary Exploration funding with key people on the Hill, members of the Planetary Society gathered at George Washington University to hear the latest science results from NASA's Curiosity and Opportunity rovers.

DPS 2012, Tuesday: Titan's surface

Emily Lakdawalla • October 17, 2012

Tuesday morning at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting featured talks on the surface composition and landforms on Titan, including lakes and "hot cross buns."

DPS 2012, Monday: Icy moons and a four-star exoplanet

Emily Lakdawalla • October 15, 2012

In the first full day of the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, I listened to scientific sessions on icy worlds and on an exoplanet in a four-star system.

Bringing you the latest science from the 2012 Division of Planetary Sciences meeting

Emily Lakdawalla • October 14, 2012

I've just arrived in Reno, Nevada for the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. Here's an introduction and a few useful links; stay tuned the rest of the week for new science from all over the solar system and beyond.

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