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OSIRIS-REx "Name That Asteroid!" Contest Deadline Extended to December 31

Emily Lakdawalla • November 30, 2012

Good news, everyone! The OSIRIS-REx team wants to give as many kids as possible a chance to Name That Asteroid! The contest entry deadline has been extended to December 31.

More than you probably wanted to know about Curiosity's SAM instrument

Emily Lakdawalla • November 30, 2012

With all the hoopla surrounding the unknown results of the first analysis of a soil sample by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, I thought an explainer would be useful. What is SAM, what is it designed to measure, and what is the nature of its results? Here you go.

SMBC on NASA announcements

Emily Lakdawalla • November 29, 2012

Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal critiques NASA's announcement style.

Water ice and organics at Mercury's poles

Emily Lakdawalla • November 29, 2012

Water ice at Mercury's poles? That's crazy, right? The MESSENGER team has made a very good case that radar-bright material seen by the Arecibo telescope is, in fact, water ice, covered in most places by a veneer of dark organic material.

Images from the long-awaited Dawn Vesta data set

Daniel Macháček • November 29, 2012

A few days ago, the Dawn mission finally published their archival data. During the year of delay I often looked with anticipation to the Planetary Data System to check whether or not images were there, and I am delighted that they are finally available. Was the wait worth it? Definitely!

That amazing image of Saturn's north pole just got better: now, it moves!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 28, 2012

Remember the amazing photo of Saturn's north pole that I posted yesterday? Now, thanks to an amateur image processor, it moves, and the motions of the individual clouds within the belts are mesmerizing.

The Planetary Society at AGU 2012

Casey Dreier • November 28, 2012

Emily Lakdawalla and Casey Dreier will both attend this year's AGU conference in San Francisco as representatives of the Planetary Society.

Staring into Saturn's baleful eye

Emily Lakdawalla • November 27, 2012

Amazing photos have just come back from Cassini, of swirling clouds surrounding Saturn's north pole.

Alan Stern Returns to Planetary Radio

Mat Kaplan • November 27, 2012

The New Horizons Pluto mission PI provides an update, and introduces his new public project called Uwingu.

One Year Ago

Casey Dreier • November 26, 2012

MSL Curiosity left the Earth one year ago today. This is my experience of the launch.

Pretty Picture: Curiosity on the edge of a geologist's paradise

Emily Lakdawalla • November 26, 2012

On Saturday, while parked for the Thanksgiving holiday at the edge of Glenelg, Curiosity took a lovely panorama pointed to the east and into Glenelg.

Two beautiful space picture books by Michael Benson

Emily Lakdawalla • November 26, 2012

Michael Benson's Planetfall and a children's edition of his earlier book Beyond put the gorgeous pictures returned from space front and center.

Orion service module, Ariane development highlight new ESA budget

Jason Davis • November 26, 2012

Representatives from the ESA approved a 10 billion euro budget for 2013-2017 during their Ministerial Council last week in Naples, Italy.

Free access to Springer journal PDFs through November 30!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 23, 2012

Springer has made online access to PDF copies of several of their journals free through November 30. One of them, Space Science Reviews, is the one that publishes the canonical papers on most spacecraft instruments. It's a bonanza!

A Gift of Support for Planetary Science

Casey Dreier • November 23, 2012

This is a perfect time of the year to give a gift of membership to the Planetary Society to someone you care for.

Cosmoquest Science Hour, Wednesday: Curiosity update with Emily and Fraser

Emily Lakdawalla • November 21, 2012

This week's Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour Google+ Hangout at 1600 PST / midnight UTC on Wednesday will feature me and Fraser Cain talking about what Curiosity's been up to, and answering your questions.

Nifty animation: Dust in the air for Curiosity

Emily Lakdawalla • November 21, 2012

An animation of Curiosity photos shows changes in the weather.

Planetary Radio Live--Celebrating Curiosity

Mat Kaplan • November 20, 2012

Bill Nye and Planetary Society colleagues welcome mission leaders Richard Cook and John Grotzinger to a live discussion about the Mars Science Laboratory Rover.

Planetary Radio: A Dawn Mission Update

Mat Kaplan • November 20, 2012

A Planetary Radio status report from the Dawn mission's Marc Rayman, accompanied by a fascinating video tour of Marc's at-home collection of space information and memorabilia.

Curiosity news that's not news (or maybe it is), and some thoughts on art and science

Emily Lakdawalla • November 20, 2012

This morning while driving to work I heard a terrific story about Curiosity on National Public Radio from Joe Palca, NPR's science correspondent. It was a great story despite the fact that it contained virtually no news. The nugget of non-news is that SAM's analysis of Mars soil has yielded some unspecified, exciting, but not-yet-confirmed result. But that's not really what Palca's story is about.

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