Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/12/31 10:24 CST
As New Year's Eve moved from time zone to time zone across planet Earth, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team looked to 2012 and wrapping its eighth Earth year of exploring, while up on the Red Planet Opportunity settled into the "saddle" at Greeley Haven preparing for the onslaught of its fifth Martian winter.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/30 04:06 CST
Investing in NASA makes us smarter, improves our lives, and increases our capability to overcome technological challenges. Even more important, though, are the intangible benefits of pride, respect from other nations, respect for our place in the universe, and hope for a future in which we can accomplish even greater things.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/29 05:57 CST
There will be no planetary launches in 2012, but there is still plenty of deep-space activity to look forward to over the coming year.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/28 05:21 CST
The twin GRAIL spacecraft are nearly at the end of their three-month cruises to the Moon. Currently being discussed is an extended mission for GRAIL that would begin after the June eclipse and last through most of December 2012.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/27 10:34 CST
Just a few of the amazing photos of Comet Lovejoy that have been taken from the southern hemisphere over the last few days. Comet Lovejoy is the first Kreutz sungrazer to have been discovered from the ground in 40 years, and after its surprising survival of its passage close to the Sun, it has been putting on a spectacular show in southern skies.
WhirledSol posted a cool Youtube tribute to the Planetary Society a year ago, and we just now found it! It has a nice explanation of why we are so passionate about space exploration.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/22 11:52 CST
Cassini flew close by Dione on December 12 and, as usual, the close pass provided opportunities for lots of dramatic photos, not just of Dione, but of other moons wandering by in the background.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/21 12:10 CST
When I posted about the really cool Cassini SAR images of Enceladus a few weeks ago, I initially wrote that this was the first-ever SAR image of an icy moon other than Titan. Several people (some readers and two members of the Cassini science team!) corrected that statement: Cassini has performed SAR imaging of other icy moons (including Enceladus) before.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/20 04:53 CST
A large team of researchers has announced in a Nature article the discovery of not one, but two, Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named Kepler-20. This article separates the observational facts from the quite-likely-to-be-true inferences from the downstream speculations.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/19 06:57 CST
The Hasbro my3D viewer turns your phone into an electronic View-Master, making it easy to view color images in stereo.
Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2011/12/16 05:18 CST
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed appropriations bills that will provide $8.1 billion disaster aid for this year's "extreme weather events." The aid will be funded by a proposed 1.83% across-the-board cut to all FY 2012 base discretionary spending, including NASA and NOAA.
Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2011/12/16 12:20 CST
NASA had planned to release next Monday an RFP (Request for Proposals) in its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. However, due to a funding shortfall, the agency will instead continue to use Space Act Agreements to contract for the development.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/15 11:18 CST
A summary of a new article by Matt Tiscareno about planetary ring systems that reviews the known ring systems of the four giant planets and the prospects for ring systems yet to be discovered.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/14 09:37 CST
An animation of comet Lovejoy entering the field of view of one of SOHO's Sun-monitoring cameras.