The Mars Exploration Rovers quietly wrapped up 2009 this month: Spirit continued to valiantly spin its wheels in an attempt to get out of its embedded location on the west side of Home Plate in Gusev Crater; and Opportunity continued its investigation of Marquette Island, perhaps the oldest Martian rock it's found to date at Meridiani Planum.
I just got a press release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that made my heart sink; the extrication effort for Spirit is not going at all well. I did not want to keep sounding a knell of bad news. But once in a while, I do have to report bad news.
This one is fresh from the spacecraft! The data were captured yesterday, December 26, by Cassini during its best yet imaging encounter with the small ringmoon Prometheus, and showed up on the Cassini raw images website today.
I love posting animations of Cassini images that I compose from frames grabbed from the mission's raw images website, but they are shoddy compared to the versions that eventually come out from the mission's imaging team.
The Planetary Society is hosting a luncheon on January 23, 2010 that will celebrate the achievements of two renowned heroes of space exploration, physicist Stephen Hawking and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Miranda is the one moon of Uranus for which we have very good images from Voyager 2, and that was a stroke of luck, because low-resolution shots of all of Uranus' moons would have told us that it was, geologically speaking, the most dramatic of the five biggest ones.