Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2005
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/24 08:30 CST
There was a big news splash about two articles that appeared in Nature about Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's landing site. The articles suggest two theories for the formation of the layered sulfur-rich deposits at Meridiani Planum that do not involve standing liquid water.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/22 06:17 CST
According to the latest Venus Express Status Reporton ESA's website, the Near Earth Commissioning Phase of the mission has been completed successfully, and the spacecraft is going to be napping for a few weeks as it continues to cruise toward Venus.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/20 05:56 CST
I was browsing around the Web today looking for material to improve the information we have on our site about Pluto, and discovered that the New Horizons mission has just posted their launch press kit.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/12 12:58 CST
The Applied Physics Laboratory announced today that MESSENGER's first "Deep Space Manuever" was successful, putting the Mercury orbiter on track for an October 24, 2006 flyby of Venus.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/23 07:21 CST
Remember how Hayabusa was virtually still for 30 minutes? JAXA is now saying that Hayabusa actually touched down -- and more than that, they may even have a sample.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/19 01:02 CST
If I understand the various sources(and my somewhat vague memory) correctly, it now appears that Earth has rotated far enough to take the Deep Space Network station at Goldstone, through which Hayabusa has been transmitting, out of line with Hayabusa.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/19 08:46 CST
Hayabusa reached an altitude of about 560 meters above Hayabusa at 17:30 UTC. And at 18:00 UTC they are at 500 meters. This is still farther above the asteroid than the asteroid is big...there is still a long way to go before Hayabusa touches down...
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/18 01:40 CST
In a further update on Hayabusa's status, we have been contacted by Kazuya Yoshida of the Space Robotics Laboratory at Tohuku University. Yoshida reports that the touchdown is now planned to take place "in early morning of November 20 (Sunday) JST", which would make it late Saturday evening UTC, or Saturday midday here in California.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/08 03:28 CST
While I was at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Cambridge in September I had a chance to chat with David Atkinson, who's a member of the Doppler Wind Experiment team on Huygens. They and the other instrument teams have been plugging away at analyzing their data.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/10/19 07:12 CDT
I just noticed this picture on the Cassini raw images website. I love these "many worlds" pictures.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/10/06 09:29 CDT
Yesterday, this quarter's release of Cassini data showed up at the Planetary Data System (PDS). The PDS is the public repository for all of NASA's data.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/10/04 06:21 CDT
The Hayabusa mission has proven to be a bit of a tease -- they were releasing lots of images to the public as they approached asteroid Itokawa, but once they arrived, the image releases shut down entirely. There is finally a little postage stamp of an image captured by Hayabusa at "home position," only 7 kilometers from the asteroid, compared here to a picture taken from "gate position," 20 kilometers away.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/29 08:14 CDT
...but this one is much closer to home than Katrina and Rita were.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/26 08:16 CDT
I received the following question by email last week: "Do you know if the Mars rovers team has any plans to photograph Venus and Earth together in the evening sky from either rover site? They will be closest together around Sept. 29th."
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/21 02:28 CDT
Since the discovery of 2003 UB313, larger than Pluto, there's been a lively debate going on in many places about what makes a planet. There's now an article in Nature talking about a proposal that would address the controversy
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/26 09:00 CDT
On August 2, 2005, MESSENGER flew by Earth at an altitude of a mere 2,347 kilometers above Mongolia.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/24 08:00 CDT
I had very much hoped to be able to post an update about the Deep Impact mission this week, but it looks like my various sources are keeping very very quiet (or maybe they are just tired of me pestering them :)
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/09 12:57 CDT
The Space Shuttle couldn't land at Kennedy Space Center today because of concerns about weather, so I have been expecting a launch delay to be announced for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Indeed, a 24-hour delay has just been announced; the new launch date is Thursday, August 11 from 7:50 to 9:35 a.m. EDT (11:50 to 13:35 UTC).
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/09 10:14 CDT
I didn't watch the Shuttle land -- but I sure noticed when it did!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/20 05:53 CDT
With its mission at Tempel 1 over, the Deep Impact spacecraft has altered its course in order to allow a future mission at another comet.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/19 04:56 CDT
I monitor the Cassini website to keep my eye out for cool pictures, and it's usually relatively easy to figure out what the spacecraft is looking at (rings, moon, Saturn, whatever). Sometimes, though, the images can be very confusing.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/15 01:00 CDT
The June 15 Cassini Project Update includes a note about a difficult decision -- they are raising the altitude of an upcoming Titan flyby, "T7," which is scheduled for September 7.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/05 09:40 CDT
So yesterday, after covering the Deep Impact press conference at JPL and recording for Planetary Radio, my husband and I drove to his parents' house for an Independence Day barbeque. When I explained the nature of the Deep Impact mission my mother-in-law exclaimed, "What! What gives you the right to go around smashing up a comet that was minding its own business?"
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/05 05:55 CDT
There was a stage set up on the steps of the administration building, and the quad in front of it was filled with JPLers of all ages and descriptions. Rick Grammier and Don Yeomans introduced the band -- five guys, all members of the band since 1953 or earlier, still rockin' and rollin'.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/04 02:21 CDT
"Our cratering experiment went very very well," reported impact scientist Peter Schultz in what may have been the understatement of the weekend. A first look at early science results from the mission suggest that while some events unfolded according to scientists' predictions, Tempel 1 provided many enticing surprises as well.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/04 10:55 CDT
Here in Von Karman auditorium at JPL, as they get ready for the press conference, they are playing "Rock Around the Clock," by Bill Haley and His Comets. Very appropriate! The press panel is mostly familiar: Andy Danztler, Rick Grammier, Shyam Bhaskaran, Mike A'Hearn, and Pete Schultz.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/04 02:08 CDT
The Deep Impact mission seems to have produced an impact crash beyond the expectations, but not the hopes, of the science team.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/03 12:09 CDT
The panel consists of: Andy Danztler, Solar System Division Director at NASA HQ; Rick Grammier, Deep Impact Project Manager, JPL; Jennifer Rocca, Deep Impact Systems Engineer, JPL; and Mike A'Hearn, Principal Investigator, University of Maryland.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/03 08:49 CDT
I woke this morning to find a press release in my Inbox that said: "One hundred and seventy-one days into its 172-day journey to comet Tempel 1, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully released its impactor at 11:07 p.m. Saturday, Pacific Daylight Time," or 06:07 UTC.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/01 04:42 CDT
NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft is set for its date with Comet Tempel 1. "We are going to hit a bullet with another bullet while watching from a third bullet," said Charles Elachi, the head of JPL.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/29 02:20 CDT
With four days remaining until Deep Impact crashes into comet Tempel 1, the comet is looming larger and larger in the public view.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/28 11:00 CDT
The Cassini imaging team has released an image containing a feature unlike any other that they have seen on Titan. The very dark color, curvaceous outline, and sharp edge of the feature have led them to the conclusion that it could well be the long-theorized but never-before-seen body of liquid hydrocarbons on the surface of Titan.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/27 08:20 CDT
Cassini's been in orbit around Saturn for almost exactly a year now, and the mission seems pretty much to have dropped off of the public radar screen. But there's still three years to go on the primary mission, and lots left to do, and I for one am not at all bored.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/10 10:56 CDT
Here at Cosmos 1 Project Operations Pasadena -- or POP -- we are scrambling to get our mission operations plans and procedures ready for our launch, just 11 days from now.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/02 09:00 CDT
As MESSENGER began its approach for its August 2 flyby of Earth, its cameras have snapped their first images. The images clearly show a cloudy Earth—and, to scientists' surprise, the Moon as well.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/02/09 10:00 CST
Earth's radio astronomers have saved the day for one of the Huygens instrument teams. Today, the Doppler Wind Experiment (DWE) team announced their first science results, despite losing nearly all of their expected data.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/02/08 10:00 CST
It's been close to a month since Huygens descended to the surface of Titan. Many visitors to this website have expressed impatience with the pace of the release of images from the Huygens cameras, a feeling that is no doubt shared by space enthusiasts around the world who are eager to see refined views of the alien surface of Titan.
On January 14, 2005, the eyes of the world were on the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, where Huygens mission operators were anxiously awaiting news from Huygens. Would the little probe -- a mission built in seventeen countries, more than twenty years in the making -- be a success, or would it prove a repeat of the heartbreaking silence of Beagle 2?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/17 10:00 CST
Scientists from the Huygens Descent Imager Spectral Radiometer (DISR) team have released their first mosaic of images captured during Huygens' descent. The mosaic is composed of 30 images captured by the Medium Resolution Imager of Huygens' Descent Imager Spectral Radiometer while the probe was spinning and descending toward Titan.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/16 10:00 CST
In the 48 hours since Huygens' data first began streaming back to Earth, a few processed images of the channeled landscape and bouldery landing site have been released to the public. Now, the Descent Imager Spectral Radiometer team at the University of Arizona has put all of Huygens' images online for the public to view.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/15 10:00 CST
This image brought applause from everyone at the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/15 07:31 CST
After a mere twelve hours of work, all six of the science teams on Huygens were able to report results this morning. You could easily tell the difference between the administrators and the scientists on this morning's press panel: the administrators looked bright, fresh, and well-rested, while the scientists looked decidedly weary.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/13 12:00 CST
Anticipation here at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) is rising to a fever pitch. The full complement of more than a hundred scientists are here from all over Europe and the U.S.; they are running around, greeting each other, getting ready for the long-awaited data.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/12 09:45 CST
In two days, it'll all be over; for better or worse, Huygens will have hit the ground on Titan, and back on Earth we'll be waiting to see whether the data will be returned. Today, I arrived at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.
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