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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.