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Curiosity update, sols 631-644: On the road again

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2014

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.

Live in California or Maryland?

Casey Dreier • May 30, 2014

The Senate is about to release its draft NASA budget, and we need to ensure their support for planetary exploration.

The House Passes a $435 Million Increase to NASA's Budget

Casey Dreier • May 30, 2014

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.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Ongoing Adventure

Samuel Lawrence • May 29, 2014

A few people think that when it comes to the Moon, because we’ve “been there, and done that,” there is nothing new left to discover. But that viewpoint could not be farther from the truth!

Daily Mail plagiarizes Planetary Society Blog guest post by Katherine Mack

Emily Lakdawalla • May 29, 2014

Planetary Society guest blogger Katherine Mack is just the latest of a great many writers whose work has been copied, uncredited, on the website of the British tabloid.

Planetary Society Canada Update

Kate Howells • May 28, 2014

Canadian National Coordinator Kate Howells provides an update on the state of the Society's Canadian initiative.

A GRB in M31...or not

Philip Evans • May 28, 2014

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.

Deep Impact's last images

Emily Lakdawalla • May 27, 2014

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 Supports NASA's Asteroid Initiative

Casey Dreier • May 27, 2014

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.

Will we find signs of tectonics on Pluto? And what would that mean?

Joseph O'Rourke • May 26, 2014

Joseph O’Rourke summarizes a recently submitted paper on tectonic activity on Pluto after the Charon-forming impact.

New orbital images of Curiosity landing site from Mars Express and HiRISE

Emily Lakdawalla • May 23, 2014

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.

The value of a Guest Investigator program for Dawn

Anne Verbiscer • May 23, 2014

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.

One Night Only, a New Meteor Shower that May Be Spectacular?

Bruce Betts • May 22, 2014

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.

No, Russia Did Not Just Kick the U.S. Out of the Space Station

Casey Dreier • May 20, 2014

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.

Lovely, live, continuous, high-definition video of Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • May 20, 2014

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.

Behind the scenes: Our spring Board of Directors meeting

Jennifer Vaughn • May 20, 2014

Twice a year, the Board of Directors of The Planetary Society gathers for a face-to-face meeting. Jennifer Vaughn reports on the meeting.

Dust on, dust off: Before-and-after comparisons of rover decks on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 19, 2014

Curiosity and Opportunity self-portraits show one rover accumulating dust, the other losing it. Check out these cool before-and-after comparisons.

Complete 2014 Astronomy Course Online

Bruce Betts • May 19, 2014

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 science mission ends; aerobraking experiment beginning

Emily Lakdawalla • May 16, 2014

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.

Curiosity update, sols 610-630: Drilling work at Windjana

Emily Lakdawalla • May 15, 2014

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.

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