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Gale's not the only Martian crater with an "enigmatic mound"

Emily Lakdawalla • August 17, 2011

Much has been made of the "enigmatic mound" within Gale crater, which will be the target of the Curiosity Mars rover's investigations. The 5,000-meter-thick section rocks in Gale's central mound will be fascinating to study, but the fact that Gale has a central mound that's taller than its rim is not at all unusual on Mars.

Vesta's wacky craters

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

Dawn's images of Vesta show craters upon craters, but the longer I study the images, the wackier the craters look.

In their own words

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

While doing my daily reading today I was struck by the awesomeness of two recent blog posts. Both were composed not by professional bloggers like me but by professional space explorers, one a scientist and the other an engineer.

What's up in human spaceflight: the gas station edition

Jason Davis • August 15, 2011

An update on human spaceflight, including orbital propellant depots, suborbital test flights and an Orion crew capsule test aboard a Delta IV Heavy.

Looking down on a shooting star

Emily Lakdawalla • August 15, 2011

This photo is making the rounds of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and whatever other social network you care to name today. It was shot by astronaut Ron Garan from the Space Station, and it's a meteor seen from above. Way cool.

Comet Garradd in 3D (sort of)

Emily Lakdawalla • August 12, 2011

Amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins sent me this neat little animation of comet Garradd moving against background stars through an hour's worth of observing. I'm not any kind of astronomer but if I were I think I would get a kick out of looking at things that appear to move within one night of watching -- asteroids, comets, Jupiter's spots. I'm impatient that way.

The role of press releases in space news coverage

Emily Lakdawalla • August 11, 2011

I was not trained as a journalist, so before I started working for the Planetary Society I had no understanding of how much news reporters depend upon press releases to generate story ideas. Did you know that most of the news that you read on the Web or in a newspaper or hear on the radio probably originated as a press release or an arranged press event from somewhere?

Wheels on Cape York!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 10, 2011

Opportunity's wheels are on a whole new different kind of rock: she has arrived at the rim of Endeavour crater, on Cape York.

Vesta, a revelation

Pablo Gutierrez-Marques • August 09, 2011

I have to admit it: three months ago I did not understand why space science is important. This is a pretty bold statement coming from a practicing aerospace engineer, but recent events have corrected this lack of understanding, and I am not embarrassed to correct myself in this blog. But let us not get ahead of the story.

NASA thinks Earth is a planet, too

Jason Davis • August 08, 2011

Although much of the publicity NASA receives focuses on planetary exploration, Earth observing satellites like Aqua keep tabs on our home planet's weather and climate.

Spirit Point and Odyssey crater in sight, and new rock under Opportunity's wheels

Emily Lakdawalla • August 07, 2011

Opportunity is at her goal. In this 3D anaglyph, taken on sol 2678 (yesterday, August 6, 2011), Opportunity's wheels are resting on strange lumpy bedrock.

Junocam will get us great global shots down onto Jupiter's poles

Emily Lakdawalla • August 05, 2011

Juno is a mission that will peer deeply into Jupiter's interior, and didn't really need to take a visible-light camera along in order to accomplish its scientific goals. But I think nobody could bear sending a spacecraft to Jupiter without getting pictures from up close. So they added Junocam.

Juno is on the way to Jupiter!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 05, 2011

It almost looked like it wasn't going to happen today, but it did! At 16:25 UTC, a huge Atlas V 551 lifted off with the Juno spacecraft and sent it on its way to Jupiter.

Fun for the whole family: Watch an enormous rocket blast a spacecraft to Jupiter!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 04, 2011

Do you have kids at home for the summer? Treat them to a spectacular fireworks show by tuning in tomorrow morning to watch Juno blast off to Jupiter!

Pretty picture: five moons for Cassini

Emily Lakdawalla • August 03, 2011

Explaining how to combine the red, green and blue images from a recent Cassini image session containing five of Saturn's moons: Janus, Pandora, Enceladus, Mimas and Rhea.

August Means Summer Recess for Congress But Let's Keep Up the Pressure for Space

Charlene Anderson • August 02, 2011

Is this the time to forget about political action? No! It's time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) and write to your local newspaper proclaiming your support for space exploration.

What I see in the first high-res Dawn images of Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2011

I had to wait until the kids were in bed and the husband fed last night before I finally had time to sit down and really look at the Dawn images of Vesta. And I still hardly knew where to begin. This brand new world is just so different than others I've seen.

On speculation in today's Dawn press briefing

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2011

When a spacecraft has visited a new body for the first time, the usual answer to any scientific question is "it's too early to know; we need to study the data more." Scientists are usually very careful to avoid speculation while they're on press panels. But today's press briefing wasn't like that at all.

Fabulous Dawn Vesta images and rotation movie!!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 01, 2011

Now that Dawn's close enough to Vesta, we're seeing absolutely spectacular detail and tremendous diversity across Vesta's surface. As usual it'll probably take me a while to bring together all the new information, so as a stopgap I'm going to post an awesome image and a rotation movie.

Jupiter's southern belt is coming back

Emily Lakdawalla • August 01, 2011

In a story that I've been following for quite a while, Jupiter's southern equatorial belt, having faded to white in 2009, is now well on its way back to its former red glory.

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