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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!