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Happy 32! Happy New Mars Year!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 31, 2013

They're too far apart to have a party, but today Curiosity and Opportunity could have rung in the New Mars Year. Today Mars reached a solar longitude of zero degrees and the Sun crossed Mars' equator, heralding the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere.

"NASA non-concurs"

Casey Dreier • July 30, 2013

NASA responds to its advisory council's recommendations from April of this year.

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: A problem of cartography

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2013

Last Thursday at the Pluto Science Conference there was a surprising and interesting talk by Amanda Zangari, who pointed out a serious problem with Pluto cartography.

Civil Servant Responsible for Government STEM Restructuring Identified

Casey Dreier • July 30, 2013

The government employee responsible for the proposed restructuring of all STEM programs in 2014 has been identified by the journal Science. The initiative faces resistance from both Congress and the scientific community, who feel that they were not consulted during the decision making process.

Dawn Journal: Craving Power

Marc Rayman • July 30, 2013

Ion propulsion is not a source of power for Dawn. Rather, the craft needs a great deal of power to operate its ion propulsion system and all other systems. It needs so much that...we crave power!!

Movie SciFi With Real Science? What a Concept!

Mat Kaplan • July 30, 2013

This week's Planetary Radio features the new indy film that relies on the best available science to create a thrilling and inspiring human mission to Jupiter's moon.

India prepares to return troubled rocket to flight

Jason Davis • July 30, 2013

India is preparing for the return-to-flight of their Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, which has suffered back-to-back failures.

The road to Mars: updates on NASA's MAVEN and India's Mars Orbiter Mission

Emily Lakdawalla • July 29, 2013

The 2013 launch window for Mars is fast approaching. November represents the next chance to send spacecraft to the Red Planet; the next window doesn't open until early 2016. So NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are working hard to prepare their respective Mars missions for launch.

Terra Cognita

Bill Dunford • July 29, 2013

Pushing back the frontier, and filling in the blank spaces on the map.

The Mars 2020 Rover In-Depth

Van Kane • July 27, 2013

We now know the science goals for NASA’s next major Mars mission. The new rover will further the astrobiological search begun by the Curiosity rover and store samples for eventual return to the Earth, providing a stepping stone to the next stage of Martian exploration.

Upgraded Alpha Centauri Planet Search Underway

Bruce Betts • July 26, 2013

The Planetary Society sponsored Alpha Centauri planet search started using a newly upgraded system in May. Here is a quick update including info from project leader Debra Fischer from Yale about their new system.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 3378 - July 25, 2013

Larry Crumpler • July 26, 2013

We are now only about 180 meters from the new mountain, Solander Point. We slowed down this week so that we could check out the rocks here where there is a strange hydration signature from orbital remote sensing.

Should National Rivalries Still Drive U.S. Space Policy?

Lori Dajose • July 25, 2013

The House recently passed a NASA Authorization Bill that called for "American astronauts launching from American rockets on American soil". If we depend on international collaboration, should these policies still drive NASA policy?

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Small moons, dust, surfaces, interiors

Emily Lakdawalla • July 24, 2013

My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.

Interpreters: the ties that bind international spaceflight

Jason Davis • July 24, 2013

An interview with Elena Kozhukhov, a veteran Russian interpreter who supports the International Space Station.

Is the study of astrophysics self-indulgent?

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

Is the study of astrophysics self-indulgent? I was caught aback by that assertion, made by a recent graduate in the latest issue of the Brown University alumni magazine.

Jani Radebaugh, Titan Explorer

Bill Dunford • July 23, 2013

Robotic space exploration is human exploration. Meet one of the people behind the machines.

Catching the Wave at JPL

Mat Kaplan • July 23, 2013

Were you in the shot? On July 19th, Cassini captured an image of pale blue Earth as the spacecraft swung behind the great ringed beauty.

Pluto on the Eve of New Horizons: Webcast tonight

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

I'm off for the airport to fly to the East Coast to participate in the scientific conference "The Pluto System on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons."

Pretty picture: Looking backward

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

Here it is: the view from Saturn of our Earthly home, one and a half billion kilometers away. We see Earth and the Moon through a thin veil of faintly blue ice crystals, the outskirts of Saturn's E ring. Earth is just a bright dot -- a bit brighter than the other stars in the image, but no brighter than any planet (like Saturn!) in our own sky.

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