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Something New! Uwingu

Posted by Alan Stern on 2012/08/21 04:29 CDT | 2 comments

A start-up company creating products that will fund space exploration, research, and education.

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Curiosity sol 15 update: Wheel wiggles, arm flexes, and bad news about REMS

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/21 04:26 CDT | 8 comments

Notes from this morning's press conference. Curiosity has successfully steered the corner wheels and deployed and restowed the robotic arm. ChemCam tests went well over the weekend. But one of the two wind speed sensors in REMS appears to have suffered permanent damage during landing.

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A Bittersweet Day for Planetary Exploration

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2012/08/20 06:17 CDT | 7 comments

A new Mars mission was announced today, which is cause for celebration. But two other exciting missions where not selected, why? Money, or lack thereof. All we need is a little bit more, and we could be exploring the solar system, not just Mars.

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NASA Selects InSight Mars 2016 Lander

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/08/20 06:13 CDT | 2 comments

NASA has selected JPL's InSight mission to Mars as its next Discovery mission. The first geophysics mission to Mars, InSight will use a Phoenix-like lander to deploy a seismometer and a heat probe and give us our first detailed insights into the interior of the Red Planet.

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We're going back to Mars in 2016!

Posted by Bill Nye on 2012/08/20 03:57 CDT | 9 comments

Today, NASA announced the newest Discovery-class mission, a Mars lander called InSight. It's not a rover; it's a drill that will go down 5 meters and help us figure out what happens in the core of our neighboring terrestrial planet.

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Sampling Mars, Part 2: Science Instruments SAM and Chemin

Posted by Daniel Limonadi on 2012/08/20 11:28 CDT | 5 comments

Continuing a multi-part guest blog series by Curiosity systems engineering team lead for the Surface Sampling and Science system. Part 2 explains the science instruments SAM and Chemin.

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Fun for all ages: creating and mapping a volcano

Posted by Mike Malaska on 2012/08/18 11:26 CDT

Here’s a fun, cheap, and only slightly messy demonstration activity for kids of all ages, even 46-year-old kids: creating and mapping an ancient volcano.

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The first Curiosity 360-degree panorama including the mountain

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/18 10:45 CDT | 8 comments

Damien Bouic took Curiosity's Hazcam images of Aeolis Mons / Mount Sharp and merged them with a beautiful 360-degree Navcam panorama to give us our first look at what the view will look like once the mission finally gets higher-resolution images that include the mountain's peak.

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Curiosity sol 11 update: Decision to drive to "the high thermal inertia unit" and what that means

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/17 06:06 CDT | 8 comments

Some notes from this morning's Curiosity press briefing: the rover will be driving to "Glenelg" to investigate the "high thermal inertia unit." I explain what that means, with psychedelic Odyssey THEMIS images of the landing site.

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Astronomy Is Cheap, Too

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2012/08/17 11:45 CDT | 16 comments

There was upsetting news today, as the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences released a report that recommended divesting from several highly successful radio telescopes. The money in question, as usual, amounts to almost nothing. The effects, however, are massive.

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Let NASA Dare Mighty Things Again

Posted by Andrew Chaikin on 2012/08/17 08:47 CDT | 18 comments

In the space Olympics, the U.S. just won gold. So what, in the scheme of things, is the justification for the draconian budget cuts to NASA’s planetary program that threaten scientists’ carefully thought out plans for exploring the solar system in the coming decade?

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Sampling Mars, Part 1: The Hardware

Posted by Daniel Limonadi on 2012/08/16 02:08 CDT | 3 comments

The opening of a multi-part guest blog series by Curiosity systems engineering team lead for the Surface Sampling and Science system. Part 1 explains the robotic arm and the Sample Acquisition, Processing and Handling subsystem.

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Some fun with Curiosity MARDI images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/16 11:36 CDT | 9 comments

Yesterday Curiosity returned a pile of full-resolution descent imager photos to Earth. The full-resolution MARDI images are just as great as we anticipated.

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Daphnis cruises through the Keeler Gap

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/08/16 11:03 CDT

A recent series of ring images by the Cassini spacecraft reveal Saturn's tiny moon Daphnis cruising through the Keeler Gap.

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See What's NEXT for Humanity

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2012/08/16 01:23 CDT | 5 comments

A new monthly series of Southern California Public Radio events begins with a look at how intelligent machines and virtual humans will change what it means to be a real human. Attend or watch the live webcast tonight, Thursday, August 16.

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Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour, Wednesday: What's up with Curiosity on Mars, with guest: me!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/15 05:00 CDT | 11 comments

I'm hosting this week's Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour, and rather than having a special guest I'll be speaking myself about what's going on with Curiosity, and will leave lots of time to answer people's questions. Join me at 1600 PDT / 2300 UTC at cosmoquest.org/hangouts.

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Curiosity sol 9 update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/15 01:21 CDT | 1 comment

An update on Curiosity's status as of sol 9, and a look ahead to the next month or two of commissioning activities.

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Video, sound, and timeline of Curiosity's descent

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/14 04:56 CDT | 7 comments

A fantastic video produced by Brian Lynch combines the thumbnail images from Curiosity's Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) with the audio from the control room during landing night and a detailed timeline from spaceflight101.com.

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Curiosity's Marsdial is on Mars!

Posted by Bill Nye on 2012/08/14 04:24 CDT | 6 comments

Following the successful landing of the Curiosity rover, it is gratifying indeed to see the third MarsDial© photometric calibration (cal) target on the planet Mars. It is something near and dear to me personally, and it's good for all of us, because it helps us do good science.

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Curiosity and the Media: A Response

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2012/08/14 10:48 CDT | 9 comments

Wherein I address a particular comment on my previous post calling me out for a lazy attack on "the media." I work through what I meant by media and how I think it tends to (unintentionally) misrepresent the relative cost and benefits of space missions.

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