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Off to France! DPS-EPSC 2011 (a big planetary meeting)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/30 11:40 CDT

I'm leaving shortly for Nantes, France to attend the 2011 joint meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society and the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC). You may be saying, wait, why is the American Astronomical Society having a meeting in France?

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Digs In at Endeavour Crater, Team Remembers 9/11

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/09/30 11:24 CDT

Since leaving the plains of Meridiani, pulling up to Endeavour Crater and checking out its first rock last month, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has wasted no time in getting the "new mission" underway.

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China's first space station takes flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2011/09/30 10:58 CDT

A Long March rocket carried China's first space station, Tiangong-1, into orbit September 29.

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What's up in the solar system in October 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/29 12:12 CDT

Without a doubt the most exciting events in space in October are Cassini's two, count them, two extremely close flybys of Enceladus, spaced only eighteen days apart, on October 1 and 19 (and followed by a third one on November 6).

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Dawn Journal: Fourth year in space, and arrival in HAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/09/29 08:12 CDT

Dawn's fourth anniversary of being in space is very different from its previous ones. Indeed, those days all were devoted to reaching the distant destination the ship is now exploring. Celebrating its anniversary of leaving Earth, Dawn is in orbit around a kindred terrestrial-type world, the ancient protoplanet Vesta.

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Pretty pictures: Dancing moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/28 12:28 CDT

Since Cassini currently orbits Saturn within the plane of Saturn's rings, it has lots of chances to catch two or more moons in the same photo. One such "mutual event" happened on September 17, featuring four moons: Titan, Dione, Pan, and Pandora.

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Sagan and Snooki

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/28 12:50 CDT

This image has been making the rounds of Google+ and Facebook today.

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Finally, an official statement on UARS' exact reentry time and location

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/27 12:25 CDT

The world watched on Friday as the derelict spacecraft named UARS made its final few orbits around Earth. And then we waited for final word of its reentry location. And waited. And waited.

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MAVEN's baby picture

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/26 01:57 CDT

A new Mars mission, MAVEN, has finally leapt the hurdle separating its existence as an idea from its material existence. Here's MAVEN's baby picture: the just-completed "primary structure" of the spacecraft.

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A Distant View of Triton

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/09/26 01:19 CDT

Ted Stryk reminisces on how he was turned on to astronomy.

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Readers: Help me identify "greatest hit" blog entries?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/26 12:03 CDT

If you are reading this and happen to recall an entry that struck you as particularly educational or having a particularly beautiful picture or whatever, I'd very much appreciate it if you could note that in the comments (or by email or Twitter, if you prefer).

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The latest HiRISE view of Opportunity, on Endeavour's rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/24 10:19 CDT

In a now-routine act of obtaining detailed photographs of robots from Earth sitting on the surface of another planet, the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a view of Opportunity sitting on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Tethys and Dione don't seem to be active after all

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/23 01:09 CDT

About four years ago I wrote a blog entry about an ESA press release about paper published in Nature that suggested that Saturn's moons Tethys and Dione might have volcanic activity, like Enceladus. A new paper published in Icarus casts doubt on that conclusion.

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Earth science's next big thing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2011/09/22 11:27 CDT

Meet the next big thing in NASA's mission to study planet Earth: NPP, the NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite.

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Professor Michael Drake, Ph.D. (1946-2011)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/21 06:25 CDT

All of us at the Planetary Society are deeply saddened by the passing of planetary scientist Michael Drake. He has been a pillar of the planetary science community for four decades.

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Keeping track of UARS' reentry

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/21 01:40 CDT

Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably heard that a very large Earth-orbiting satellite is going to be reentering Earth's atmosphere soon, and there's a small but nonzero chance of debris coming down where somebody might actually find it.

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Reading Itokawa's life history from microscopic samples

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/20 01:58 CDT

When Hayabusa's sample return capsule was first opened and found to be very clean-looking inside, I doubted that there could be enough material for laboratory analysis. JAXA announced later that they scraped about 1500 dust grains from the inside with a teflon spatula, and these likely came from Itokawa.

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Video: Soaring over Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/19 12:46 CDT

This amazing video has already been posted by basically every other space blogger but I can't resist featuring it too, especially because I just realized that it was not made by NASA but instead by a member of the public digging into public NASA archives of image data -- yay for amateurs!

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Students Design Human Asteroid Mission in Caltech Space Challenge

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2011/09/19 11:55 CDT

I spent much of the past week attending the Caltech Space Challenge, a student-organized international competition to design a human mission to a Near-Earth asteroid. It was a great week, and one of the most positive, upbeat and hopeful programs I have participated in concerning the future of space exploration.

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A Skirmish Won, the Battle Will Continue

Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2011/09/17 09:23 CDT

In this latest skirmish over NASA's budget, the numbers are in -- and it looks like we won!

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