The last couple of weeks have seen Curiosity return to the business of making steady headway toward Murray Buttes and, beyond them, Mount Sharp. Eight of the last 14 sols have seen drives ranging in length from 30 to 104 meters, racking up a total of more than half a kilometer. They are now occasionally working a shortened planning timeline that allows them to squeeze more drive sols into Curiosity's schedule.
After a multi-day floor debate, the House of Representatives passed its Commerce-Justice-Science funding bill, which included a NASA budget $435 million above the President's 2015 request and an increase to planetary science.
The Twittersphere has been alive with speculation about a Gamma Ray Burst in the nearby galaxy M31. The problem is, there was never a claim of such an event, and it turns out that the tentative result that triggered this story was overstated.
Today I received an email notification of new public releases of some image data sets. I always love seeing new public space image data, but this notification was bittersweet: it included the first public release of the very last image data returned to Earth by Deep Impact, of a distant comet ISON.
The Planetary Society strongly supports NASA's asteroid initiative, including the goal of redirecting an asteroid to the vicinity of the Moon. But an independent cost estimate is needed, and needed soon.
Mars Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are keeping their eyes in the sky on Curiosity. There's a nice newly public color image of all of Gale Crater from HiRISE, and two new HiRISE images within the Curiosity landing site.
NASA selected 21 Participating Scientists to join the Dawn team in 2010, prior to Dawn's arrival at Vesta in 2011. Since that time, Dawn Participating Scientists have made enormous contributions to the mission, as they do for most other NASA missions. But the status of a Participating Scientist program for Dawn at Ceres has been in doubt.
A new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids, will be peaking Friday night/Saturday morning (May 23/24). Especially if you are in North America, you are well positioned to see what may (or may not) be a spectacular show. In either case, scientists will learn about a comet’s history, and you can have a fun night looking at the sky.
A top Russian official announced a ban on Russian engines in U.S. military launches and questioned Russia's long-term commitment to the International Space Station. We cut through the hype and try to understand what was actually said and the immediate consequences facing NASA.
Have you ever wished you could enjoy the astronauts' view of Earth from the Space Station? Now, you can. Just go to the live feed from the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment, crank it up to its highest resolution, let it take over your monitor, and watch Earth spin by.
Bruce Betts has completed the lectures for his online 2014 Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy Course at CSUDH: all are online and you can earn a Certificate of Achievement for watching them.
Venus Express, currently the only spacecraft orbiting our nearest planetary neighbor, will soon meet a fiery end in Venus' atmosphere. But its work isn't over yet. ESA will maneuver Venus Express to dip into the uppermost Venus atmosphere and study how the spacecraft responds to atmospheric pressure, giving ESA valuable experience in aerobraking.
Finally, a new drill site! For the first time in nearly a year, Curiosity has put drill bit to rock and acquired a new sample of Martian material for her analytical instruments to chew on. Scientific data collection at Windjana is now complete; Curiosity drove away last night, on sol 630.