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Blog Archive


Photo proof of good progress on IKAROS sail deployment

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/31 04:00 CDT

We have photo proof that the multi-step process of the deployment of IKAROS' square solar sail is going according to plan!

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Sleeps through Solstice, Opportunity Cruises Past Viking Record

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers made it through their fourth winter solstice in what is the coldest, most challenging Martian winter the twin robot field geologists have experienced.

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Progress on WISE's asteroid survey

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/28 08:05 CDT

I wrote some time ago about the expectations for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)'s contributions to solar system science. A couple of days ago, JPL posted an image and movie documenting the progress to date.

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Firming Up the Spacecraft Design

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2010/05/27 12:00 CDT

The LightSail-1 spacecraft development is proceeding well. Our engineering team has completed crucial milestones to building the vehicle that will demonstrate the value and potential of using sunlight alone to propel exploratory craft through space.

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Is this the eastward turn we've all been waiting for?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/27 07:24 CDT

As I discussed on Monday, Opportunity is in the middle of a lengthy trek toward a crater named Endeavour and its tantalizing upraised smectite-bearing rim.

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Using Earth to Study the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/26 12:51 CDT

Exploring Earth analogues of space landscapes is a valuable activity that can help planetary scientists correctly interpret what their instruments are telling them.

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Initial checkout of IKAROS complete

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/25 02:32 CDT

JAXA has posted a short update on their solar sailcraft IKAROS.

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The goal of Opportunity's trek

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/24 02:00 CDT

Opportunity's kilometers-long march across the sands of Meridiani Planum is a great story, and the journey is fun to follow; but what could be worth such a long march?

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Akatsuki captures goodbye shots of Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/22 09:50 CDT

Three of Akatsuki's six science instruments have now checked in as operating normally, producing lovely photos of the receding homeworld.

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All's well on IKAROS and Shin-en

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/21 09:42 CDT

Today JAXA posted a very brief mission status update on the IKAROS spacecraft, launched yesterday along with Akatsuki. Brief is good; all's well.

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Official launch and landing dates announced for Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/21 05:34 CDT

Yesterday the Jet Propulsion Laboratory formally announced the launch dates chosen for Curiosity, the next generation Mars rover also known as Mars Science Laboratory.

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Voyager 2's flipped bit fixed

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/21 05:12 CDT | 1 comments

A happy ending to this story: JPL reported yesterday evening that the flipped bit in Voyager 2's flight data system software has been successfully toggled back to its correct value.

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More Support for the 2011 Budget Proposal

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2010/05/20 11:00 CDT

The new joint statement by space organizations representing a large segment of the science and space-interest community, including The Planetary Society, is a terrific endorsement for the 2011 budget proposal for NASA.

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Akatsuki, IKAROS, UNITEC-1, and your names are on their way to Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/20 05:44 CDT

It was a picture-perfect launch for three Venus-bound spacecraft this morning: the Akatsuki Venus orbiter, the IKAROS solar sail, and a university-built minisat named UNITEC-1.

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Akatsuki and IKAROS to launch today

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/20 04:08 CDT

This is mostly a repost from Monday: Just a programming note, a reminder that Japan plans to launch the Venus orbiter Akatsuki and the solar sail IKAROS today at 21:58:22 UTC.

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Apollo Astronaut Rusty Schweickart Boosts New NASA Plan

Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2010/05/19 04:51 CDT

It's the hottest debate I've seen in 30 years of following space policy -- this uproar over NASA's proposed FY 2011 budget.

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Pretty picture: Messier 83

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 11:43 CDT

What does a barred spiral galaxy look like? THIS is what a barred spiral galaxy looks like.

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Opportunity: longest-lived landed Mars mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 10:26 CDT

Today is sol 2,246 of Opportunity's mission to Mars; as I write, it's just before 7:00 local solar time. If this sol passes, as her previous 2,245 have done, with Opportunity still alive and speaking to Earth, she will have surpassed a record set on November 12, 1982: Opportunity will pass Viking Lander 1 as the longest-lived landed Mars mission.

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The most amazing image of Enceladus Cassini has captured yet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 01:05 CDT

Every time I think Cassini has captured the coolest image of Enceladus ever, it does better.

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Science and Hollywood -- The Two Cultures Meet in Jim Cameron's Avatar

Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2010/05/18 08:07 CDT

Hollywood and Science are not congenial colleagues. When their paths cross, as they so often do in science-fiction films, each feels the other must give way to the cultural absolutes of their different tribes.

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