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India prepares to take flight to Mars with the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/31 02:38 CDT | 11 comments

The excitement is really building toward India's first-ever attempt at an interplanetary spacecraft! Launch day is quickly approaching for the Mars Orbiter Mission. In this lengthy post, I provide answers to frequently asked questions about the mission and its goals.

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Mars Needs Plutonium! (And so do Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Points Beyond)
Planetary Radio Talks With Casey Dreier About Restoring Production of an Isotope

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/29 10:38 CDT

Society Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator Casey Dreier visits Planetary Radio with the tale of an element that is essential to exploration of deep space.

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Laser Bees Update

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/29 05:42 CDT | 3 comments

An update from University of Strathclyde researchers about the Planetary Society sponsored laboratory Laser Bees asteroid deflection project including a new laser and other lab equipment, and the start of new related projects.

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Power From the Isotopes
The United States is trying to generate plutonium fuel for the first time in 25 years. Will it succeed?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/29 01:21 CDT | 2 comments

We report on the current state of Plutonium-238 production in the United States, a crucial fuel source for planetary exploration spacecraft.

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Why does ISON look green?

Posted by Matthew Knight on 2013/10/29 12:23 CDT

You may have noticed that Comet ISON appears to have a green halo in some recent images, but in other images acquired at about the same time, it doesn’t. Thanks to the beautiful new spectrum posted earlier today by Christian Buil, it’s relatively easy to understand why.

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 3: The Harmony of the Worlds
In which Mars changes the course of human history

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/29 03:33 CDT | 7 comments

We continue our analysis of Cosmos as we jump back in time to see the birth of modern science with Johannes Kepler or, as Sagan calls it, the first fusion of "imagination with observation." Welcome to Episode 3: The Harmony of the Worlds.

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Chang'e 3 update: Rocket shipped to launch site; ten possible rover names announced

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/28 12:45 CDT | 5 comments

China's Chang'e 3 lunar soft lander and rover are proceeding toward a planned December launch. The Long March-3B rocket departed Beijing for the Xichang launch facility yesterday, and is expected to arrive November 1. Meanwhile, 190,000 contest entries have been winnowed to a list of ten possible names for the rover.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3467 - October 24, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/10/28 08:16 CDT | 1 comments

On sol 3451 Opportunity began its climb of Solander Point. This is the highest “mountain” that Opportunity has tried to climb yet.

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The Planetary Society takes on Canada

Posted by Kate Howells on 2013/10/28 06:57 CDT | 4 comments

The Planetary Society’s work beyond the United States is still not nearly as extensive as it is in the Society’s home country. But we are making some huge steps towards changing that, starting with Canada – America’s neighbor, NASA’s partner, and the home of almost eighteen hundred Planetary Society members.

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The Autumn Equinox 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is out!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2013/10/25 07:39 CDT | 17 comments

The Autumn Equinox 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is hot off the presses and is in the mail.

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Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian, oh my! --Mars' Geologic Time Scale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/25 04:32 CDT | 3 comments

The Martian Geologic Time Scale is a lot more complicated than the Moon's.

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One More U.N. Step Forward on NEOs

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/24 04:17 CDT | 1 comments

This week, the United Nations will move one step closer to an international response to the threat from near Earth objects (NEOs).

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New opportunity to name an asteroid!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/24 11:47 CDT | 6 comments

The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) has just announced a new asteroid naming competition, open to anyone, so if you've ever wanted to name an asteroid, now's your chance.

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The Potential of CubeSats

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/10/23 09:17 CDT

Planetary spacecraft originally tended to be large missions. However, technology is shrinking, and before the decade is out, I expect that we will have at least one planetary mission based on a CubeSat.

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Book review: LEGO Space: Building the Future

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/23 08:03 CDT | 4 comments

This book is so great. I cannot imagine how many hours of happy building went into the development of the various LEGO ships and space bases included in this book, but I wish I could have participated.

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Curiosity update: Roving through the shutdown toward Waypoint 2, sols 388-432

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/10/23 02:57 CDT | 1 comments

After a brief science stop at Darwin (formerly known as Waypoint 1), Curiosity has driven hundreds of meters toward Mount Sharp. Autumn has come to Curiosity's southern hemisphere location, bringing lower temperatures. That means more power is required to heat rover actuators, leaving less power for science along the drive.

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India's Mars Orbiter Mission now set for November 5 launch date

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/22 01:01 CDT | 7 comments

The launch of ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission has been delayed by about a week due to bad weather in the Indian Ocean. The new launch date is November 5 at 14:36 IST (09:06 UTC / 01:06 PST). Their launch opportunity stretches to November 19.

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 2: One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue
In which we are connected to all living things

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/21 09:41 CDT | 16 comments

In episode 2 we switch from cosmos to microcosm and discover how we are connected to all living things. Is Sagan too authoritative in this episode? Plus, a major error in one of the stories.

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Good morning, Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/21 11:39 CDT | 1 comments

What a happy way to start the week: a new video for Marian Call's astronaut wakeup song, "Good Morning Moon!" It was filmed in part at Space Expo, ESA's visitor center in Noordvijk, the Netherlands.

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The Strangest Place on the Moon?

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/10/21 02:00 CDT | 4 comments

A closer look at the odd lunar feature called "Ina."

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