The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission stepped up preparations for the coming Martian winter in September as Opportunity rounded the northern tip of Solander Point and drove into what will be her campground at Endeavour Crater for the next six months or so. It's been nearly a year in the planning. Now, from the rover's first look around, this winter could turn out to be one for the books.
I'll be representing The Planetary Society on a quickly-replanned panel at tomorrow's Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Agency Night, in the absence of any representatives from federal funding agencies.
The shutdown of the federal government continues to claim casualties. Today, the Green Bank Telescope, Very Large Array, and Very Long Baseline Arrays all shut their doors, blinding us to the radio sky and scuttling long-term research projects.
The annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society begins on Sunday and runs for a week in Denver, Colorado. I'll be attending all week, bringing you the latest news from across the solar system.
The European Space Agency invited me to join Mars Express project scientist Olivier Witasse, and spacecraft oeprations manager Michel Denis for a Hangout on Europe's recent and future exploration of Mars and Phobos.
Launch preparations will resume for NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch to Mars on November 18th. Work had previously been suspended, potentially causing the spacecraft to miss its once-every-26-month launch opportunity.
Today I received my furlough notice from NASA. Since my job isn’t considered “excepted,” in other words, since no one will be injured or die if I don’t report for work, then I am to remain at home until recalled to work after the Congress passes and the President signs some sort of budget or continuing resolution to keep the government running.
When LADEE launched on September 6, it launched into Earth orbit. Today, it is finally on a path that will take it to its October 6 lunar orbit insertion. Its operation is continuing normally in the face of the U.S. government's shutdown yesterday, as is that of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Yesterday, the much-anticipated comet ISON made its closest pass by Mars. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera is the first to achieve a positive detection of the somewhat-fainter-than-expected comet in its photos.
Several Indian news sites posted a press wire article this morning indicating that India's Mars Orbiter Mission departed its assembly and testing facility in Bangalore today and is now on the way to the coastal launch site, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, a journey of about 400 kilometers.