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Mountains rising for Opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • July 31, 2011

The views from Opportunity of Endeavour's near and distant rim peaks are getting ever more vertical as Opportunity approaches Cape York.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Closes in on Endeavour as Team Bids Farewell to Spirit

A.J.S. Rayl • July 31, 2011

Opportunity seemed to sail with the wind behind her back toward the western rim of Endeavour Crater this month as the Mars Exploration Rover team shifted gears in preparation for a whole new adventure, taking time out only to bid a final farewell both privately and publicly to Spirit.

What's up in the solar system in August 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2011

August is supposed to be a lazy summer vacation month, but there's quite a lot going on in the solar system.

Phobos-Grunt and Yinghuo-1 have completed thermal vacuum testing

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2011

The Russian Phobos sample return mission, Phobos-Grunt, has passed a key milestone in its preparation for launch: it successfully completed its thermal vacuum testing in June.

A different face of Vesta (oh, *there's* the craters!)

Emily Lakdawalla • July 29, 2011

Here's the latest image release from Dawn at Vesta, taken from an altitude about twice as high as that of their first mapping orbit.

What's up in human spaceflight: a Dragon approaches

Jason Davis • July 29, 2011

Private spaceflight company SpaceX has secured tentative approval with NASA to combine its next test flight with an actual ISS docking.

Origins 2011 conference, part 2

Frank Trixler • July 27, 2011

In this, my second blog on Origins 2011 in Montpellier, France, a conference dedicated to the interdisciplinary research on the origins of life, I aim to provide my impression of the second half of the conference.

Dawn Journal: Dawn has arrived!

Marc Rayman • July 26, 2011

After covering 2.8 billion kilometers (1.7 billion miles) on its own, after traveling for nearly four years through the lonely emptiness of interplanetary space, after being bound by the gravity only of the sun, Dawn is finally in orbit around Vesta.

Pretty movie: Everything in the Saturn system is in motion!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 26, 2011

A few weeks ago a producer for a public television space documentary asked me if I knew of any cool Cassini animations and my answer was, "Ooh, what a great excuse to have some fun digging around in the Cassini data archives." Here is the most fun animation I came up with in response to the request.

Planetary Society Statement on the Pioneer Anomaly

Charlene Anderson • July 22, 2011

Planetary Society Members have been supporting Slava Turyshev and his colleagues in their scientific quest to solve the famous Pioneer Anomaly. They have just published a peer-reviewed paper that reports on what may be the last step toward the solution.

It's official now: Curiosity is going to Gale

Emily Lakdawalla • July 22, 2011

The news leaked a few weeks ago has turned out to be true: the next Mars rover, Curiosity, will be headed for Gale crater on Mars when it launches at the end of this year.

Vesta does a Hyperion impression

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

Maybe it's my own peculiar variant of pareidolia, but every time I see a new image of Vesta I'm reminded of some different other lumpy body in the solar system. In the image released just now by the Dawn team, taken from 10,500 kilometers away, I'm seeing Hyperion.

Opportunity's horizon rises -- and maybe brings Cape York into view

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

For miles and miles of Martian terrain, Opportunity's view forward has contained a distinctive line of hills—the far rim of Endeavour crater.

Beginning of the post-shuttle era

Jason Davis • July 21, 2011

At 5:57AM EDT (9:57 UTC) this morning, Atlantis gracefully rolled to a stop on runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center Landing Facility, completing the 135th and final mission of the space shuttle program that started in 1981.

Spiffy human spaceflight T-shirt!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

From Chop Shop, the same guys who brought you my favorite space T-shirt ever, there is now a very cool shirt celebrating the spacecraft and missions of 50 years of human spaceflight, and as before they're donating five bucks to the Planetary Society for every T-shirt sold.

What a Day! From Earth to the Moon and Mars

Bill Nye • July 21, 2011

Mission accomplished! It's been thirty great years for the Space Shuttle program. With this venerable space vehicle retired, it's on to the next adventure.

A fourth moon for Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • July 20, 2011

That's right: Hubble observations have yielded the discovery of a third small body orbiting Pluto and Charon.

Your guide to a shuttle landing

Jason Davis • July 19, 2011

The final installment of my three-part series on the basics of shuttle launches and landings. Part III: de-orbiting, re-entering and landing.

Vesta in infrared color!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 19, 2011

Yet another sharp-eyed reader (I love my readers!) pointed out to me that the German-language release on the MPS website about the latest Vesta image from Dawn included what looked like a tiny thumbnail of a color view.

Yet another new image of Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2011

A sharp-eyed reader noticed that a size comparison montage posted by the Dawn mission today included an image of Vesta that had not yet been released separately to the public, and it is a very cool one.

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