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Stardust flies by Tempel 1 in 5 hours, and I'll be watching!

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2011

Stardust is very close to the last major act of its mission: the flyby of Tempel 1, which will take place at 20:40 PST (04:40 UTC). Here's a summary of the recent and current status of the mission, and how to follow the events over the next 24 hours.

Happy Valentine's Day from Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2011

I dug around and found something unique: this cool heart-shaped feature on Mars -- my Valentine to you all!

Snapshots from Space: Voyager views of the Great Red Spot, Björn Jönsson

Emily Lakdawalla • February 10, 2011

I've got a new column in the Planetary Society's member magazine, The Planetary Report, called "Snapshots from Space," highlighting really cool amateur-processed images. I'm excited to have the opportunity to help these people get their work published!

Stardust update: Almost to Tempel 1

Emily Lakdawalla • February 10, 2011

We're coming up on the final days of Stardust's approach to Tempel 1. The flyby takes place on February 15 at 04:56 UTC (February 14 at 20:56 PST).

Google Mars base maps available for Opportunity's future traverse

Emily Lakdawalla • February 09, 2011

Thanks to the work of several amateurs, Google Mars is a great tool for following the past and future peregrinations of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

LightSail 1 on NASA Short List for Upcoming Launch

Bruce Betts • February 09, 2011

NASA announced that the Planetary Society’s LightSail 1 solar sail mission is on their short list for upcoming launch opportunities. The missions selected are CubeSats destined for piggyback launches as part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative.

Close approach to Earth turns Apollo into Aten

Emily Lakdawalla • February 08, 2011

Last week we got buzzed by a very small asteroid, something that happens fairly often. But there were several details that made the close approach of asteroid 2011 CQ1 worthy of note.

Some recent pictures of Saturn's northern storm

Emily Lakdawalla • February 07, 2011

There is a huge storm that's spreading across so much of Saturn that it's been readily visible even from Earth-based telescopes. Over the past couple of days a couple of new images of Saturn have appeared that show just how enormous the storm is today.

How much is Vesta's geology controlled by its one huge impact feature?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 07, 2011

Here's a neat paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters: "Mega-ejecta on asteroid Vesta." In it, Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug consider Vesta's shape -- which appears to be dominated by a very large impact crater centered at its south pole -- and ask how much of the great big asteroid Vesta's global appearance is likely to be dominated by the effects of that one large impact.

More on Kepler exoplanet discoveries

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2011

Here's some links to some good followup stories on Wednesday's Kepler press briefing.

Mars conjunction today: Cool SOHO/SDO video

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2011

Today Mars made its closest approach to the Sun -- as seen from Earth, that is. Why is this important?

Rosetta update: Scary safe mode, but all's well now

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2011

The Rosetta blog has been strangely quiet of late, after they had been quite actively posting updates on the status of Rosetta during a critical series of orbit adjustment burns, which I wrote about two weeks ago.

What's up in the solar system in February 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • February 03, 2011

Welcome to my monthly roundup of what's happening with our deep-space explorers across the solar system. I apologize for its lateness; two sick kids have drastically affected my productivity this week, but they're better and now I'm getting back to work.

Dawn Journal: ORT ORT ORT

Marc Rayman • February 03, 2011

Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.

Kepler announcement today: More than a thousand exoplanets including one 6-planet system

Emily Lakdawalla • February 02, 2011

I wasn't able to watch the Kepler press briefing today so I will give you links to some of my favorite blogs for information on today's announcement, which follows a major data release last night as well as the publication of a paper in Nature.

My day with Hawking and Aldrin

Louis D. Friedman • February 02, 2011

I was very fortunate to be able to meet with Stephen Hawking and Buzz Aldrin over lunch at Hawking's temporary home in Pasadena this week. We got together to discuss views on the future of human space exploration.

Stardust update: trajectory correction successful

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2011

Now that Stardust has images of its target comet to work with, the mission was able to figure out their relative positions more precisely, and they've gone ahead with an important rocket firing that shifts the spacecraft's aimpoint past the comet closer to the number that they want.

Stardust Contest: "Are We There Yet?"

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2011

There's a new Planetary Society contest: "Are We There Yet? -- Measuring Stardust's Cosmic Journey." How far do you think Stardust will have traveled to get to Tempel 1? Guess here and get a chance to win a cool T-shirt!

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