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Blog Archive

 

Hayabusa 2 complete, ready to begin its journey to asteroid 1999 JU3

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/31 04:09 CDT | 5 comments

The excitement is building for Hayabusa 2! The spacecraft is now complete and ready to be shipped to its launch site. JAXA unveiled its next interplanetary traveler to the media in a special event on August 31.

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The Pivotal Discovery You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Posted by Karl Battams on 2014/08/29 02:09 CDT | 5 comments

Karl Battams highlights the historic discovery, by an Air Force satellite, of a sungrazing comet.

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise and Fall) of Planetary Exploration Funding
NASA has explored the planets since the 1960s, but funding has rarely been consistent

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/08/29 02:06 CDT | 5 comments

NASA has explored the solar system since the 1960s, but it has rarely been the top priority for the space agency. Jason Callahan breaks down how planetary science has been funded over the years within NASA's larger budget.

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The Birth of the Modern Universe
Review of Alan Hirshfeld's "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe"

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2014/08/29 12:29 CDT | 1 comments

Amir Alexander reviews Alan Hirshfeld's newest book, "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe."

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Back on the Rails with OSETI
Planetary Society OSETI Going Strong

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/08/28 07:06 CDT

The Planetary Society sponsored all-sky optical SETI search at Harvard University went off the rails, telescope roof rails that is, but it is back on track and hunting the sky for ET.

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NASA’s Big Rocket a Step Closer to Reality
The Space Launch System has been approved for production

Posted by Jason DavisCasey Dreier on 2014/08/28 12:33 CDT | 9 comments

NASA's Space Launch System passed a critical milestone yesterday, but buried within the announcement was news that the first launch could slip by nearly a year.

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Canadian Mars Analogue Mission: Field Report, Week 2

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2014/08/28 11:17 CDT

Tanya Harrison wraps up the final week of Mars sample return analogue mission operations at the Canadian Space Agency.

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International Postcards from Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/08/27 03:03 CDT

A collection of pretty pictures by cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who currently serves as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station.

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The Competition for Dollars
What is NASA's main competition for funding within the federal budget? It's not what you think.

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/08/27 01:20 CDT | 12 comments

We all know NASA needs more money to achieve its goals. But competition for money is intense within the U.S. federal government, and two trends have made it harder for NASA to get what it needs.

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Europa: How Less Can Be More

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/08/26 06:55 CDT | 6 comments

Van Kane explains three factors that make exploring Europa hard—factors that can make a mission concept that seems like less actually be more.

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Rosetta identifies five possible landing sites for Philae

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/26 09:59 CDT | 8 comments

The Rosetta team has announced the selection of five regions on Churyumov-Gerasimenko that they will study as possible landing sites for little Philae. Now, as Rosetta surveys the comet from its second triangular "orbit" at an average distance of 60 kilometers, the mission will target these spots for extra attention.

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Cool animations of Phobos transits from Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/25 04:41 CDT | 4 comments

Shooting video of a lumpy moon crossing the Sun and turning it into a giant googly eye is not a new activity for Curiosity, but I get a fresh thrill each time I see one of these sequences downlinked from the rover.

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Best-ever Neptune mosaics for the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2's flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/25 10:58 CDT | 4 comments

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune, image magician Björn Jónsson has produced two new global mosaics of the distant ice giant, the highest-resolution ever made.

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Radio Problems Scrub LightSail's Day-in-the-Life Test

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/08/22 05:16 CDT | 1 comments

A pesky radio problem that has occasionally stymied LightSail has returned, scrubbing the mission's day-in-the-life test.

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Curiosity update, sols 697-726: Mars thwarts driving and drilling

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/22 04:24 CDT | 2 comments

The Mars gremlins really had it in for Curiosity this month. A computer glitch and slippery sand conspired to delay the rover's progress toward Mount Sharp. And shifting rocks proved unsafe for drilling. The rover will continue driving toward Mount Sharp, departing Bonanza King without drilling, skirting Hidden Valley along a plateau to its north.

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Philae landing site selection process under way as Rosetta closes to within 60 kilometers of the comet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/22 02:01 CDT | 9 comments

Rosetta spent the week transitioning to a lower orbit from which it continues to observe the comet. This weekend, the mission will select about five landing sites for more detailed study. They have also now estimated the mass of the comet.

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Comet Flyby Missions for Mars Rovers

Posted by Mark Lemmon on 2014/08/21 10:19 CDT | 2 comments

On October 19, the Mars rovers — like their orbiting cousins — will become comet flyby missions. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 140,000 km of Mars.

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Stardust@home Finds Some Stardust

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2014/08/21 07:48 CDT

What’s new at Stardust@home, the groundbreaking program that asked volunteers to help find interstellar dust particles collected by the spacecraft Stardust.

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Canadian Mars Analogue Mission: Field Report, Week 1

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2014/08/20 11:02 CDT | 1 comments

Tanya Harrison reports on Canada's efforts to simulate a Mars sample return mission here on Earth.

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Curiosity wheel damage: The problem and solutions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/19 08:21 CDT | 27 comments

Now that a Tiger Team has assessed the nature and causes of damage to Curiosity's wheels, I can finally answer your frequently-asked questions about what wheel damage means for the mission, and why it wasn't anticipated.

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