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Blogs

Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2005

5...4...3...2...1...1...Happy New Year!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/31 01:29 CST

Read that title aloud. Yes, the last minute of 2005 is actually 61 seconds long.

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A debate in Meridiani Planum

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.

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A nap for Venus Express

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.

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(Almost) everything you ever wanted to know about New Horizons and Pluto

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.

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Analyzing the first published Huygens results

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/02 03:26 CST

I am working my way steadily through the seven Huygens papers that were released by Nature magazine Wednesday on their "Advance online publication" website.

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Thruster trouble for Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/29 08:59 CST

Hayabusa has been riding an incredible wave of luck lately, resulting in the dramatic success of the sample grab last week. But it looks as though Hayabusa's luck may be running out.

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Big News for Hayabusa: It wasn't hovering, it landed!!

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.

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A fun picture for holiday travel

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/22 02:37 CST

A fun NASA explainer just crossed my email inbox and I thought I'd share it.

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A gap in the Hayabusa telemetry, as the Earth rotates

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.

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Closer still to Itokawa

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...

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Getting ready for Hayabusa's touchdown

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.

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Another Hayabusa update: small delay

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/17 08:05 CST

There has been a delay of just about a day in JAXA's plans for landing Hayabusa on Itokawa.

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A couple of Hayabusa updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/16 07:33 CST

Tak Iyori from The Planetary Society of Japan has sent us a couple of updates on the status of Hayabusa and the mission's plans for landing on Itokawa.

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Amazing Hayabusa images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/10 09:36 CST

These photos pretty much speak for themselves. They are amazing. Hayabusa saw its own shadow on Itokawa, and took a photo of the released target marker.

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An update on the Huygens Doppler Wind Experiment

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.

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Europe Prepares to Return to Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/11/01 03:42 CST

After a 2-week delay in its schedule, the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft is back on track for launch.

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An evening with Dava Sobel

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/10/24 11:05 CDT

I've just come home from Caltech, where I saw author Dava Sobel give a presentation on her latest book, The Planets.

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A way-cool Cassini picture: rings, Titan, Dione, Prometheus

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.

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Animation from Cassini's approach to Dione

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/10/12 09:01 CDT

The images from Cassini's Dione encounter yesterday have started coming back, and there is a really cool set of 16 pictures of Dione and Rhea.

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A new Cassini data release to the Planetary Data System

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.

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A piece of a new picture from Hayabusa

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.

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Amazing views of Hyperion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/10/01 11:11 CDT

I've finally worked my way through all of the Hyperion images that were returned from the last flyby. It's a wonderful data set.

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Another day, another natural disaster on Earth seen from space...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/29 08:14 CDT

...but this one is much closer to home than Katrina and Rita were.

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An opportunity for Spirit to see Earth and Venus together?

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."

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An official pronouncement may be coming about the "what is a planet?" debate

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

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A debate about time

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/21 08:21 CDT

I received a press release in my inbox this morning that made me think. It came from the Royal Astronomical Society, and was titled "RAS Statement on Proposed Abolition of Leap Seconds."

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An animation of Itokawa from Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/07 01:45 CDT

This lovely animation of Itokawa represents 20 individual images taken between 18:10 on September 5 and 00:30 on September 6, from a distance of less than 700 kilometers away.

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A new view of Pandora

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/07 12:54 CDT

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Catching up with Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/26 10:34 CDT

Hayabusa (formerly known as MUSES-C) is getting very, very close to its target asteroid Itokawa, and should be arriving soon!

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A lack of information for a Deep Impact update

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 :)

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A couple of pretty Cassini photos from this week

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/20 09:06 CDT

First, here's a nice shot of Epimetheus, which was taken about a month ago.

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A little more Hyperion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/18 08:35 CDT

Checking the Cassini raw images website, I found quite a few more images of Hyperion this morning. It looks like Cassini had a leisurely flyby of the little moon from roughly 700,000 kilometers' distance.

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A launch delay for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

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).

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I didn't watch the Shuttle land -- but I sure noticed when it did!

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!

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A photo of MESSENGER

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/08/03 04:44 CDT

I was browsing the MESSENGER website just now, and found a neat photo. It's a picture of MESSENGER as seen from Earth when it flew by yesterday.

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A Deep Impact update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/28 09:28 CDT

We haven't forgotten about Deep Impact, but there's still no word on the crater size.

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Deep Impact Sets a New Course as Tempel 1 Returns to Normal

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.

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A couple cool raw Cassini pics -- and a break in the data

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.

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A change of plans for Cassini: higher altitude for the "T7" Titan flyby

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.

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A little break

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/08 01:44 CDT

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Another gorgeous Deep Impact image

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/06 04:51 CDT

The team has just released a really pretty high-resolution view of Tempel 1 just 67 seconds after the impact.

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Reflecting on Deep Impact

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?"

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Rockin' to Bill Haley and his Comets

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'.

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News: Deep Impact Delivers the Science; Years of Work Ahead for Science Team

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.

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Notes from the morning-after press conference

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.

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Views of Tempel 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/04 10:47 CDT

It looks like the European Space Agency was busy overnight -- lots of great Earth- and space- based images of the impact have been appearing on various websites.

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Deep Impact Comet Crash Produces Great Big Comet Flash

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.

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Deep Impact live blog

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/04 01:45 CDT

Live blog from the press room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as Deep Impact's Impactor meets its fate at the comet....

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A couple of notes on the Deep Impact images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/03 12:29 CDT

After the press conference I asked Mike A'Hearn a couple of questions about the raw images we're seeing online.

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Quotes from Deep Impact "Pre-Impact Update" press conference at JPL

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.

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The Deep Impactor is safely on its way!

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.

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Deep Impact On Course for Comet Crash; Mission Is Already Producing Science Returns

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.

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Cassini-Huygens anniversary

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/01 04:07 CDT

In the midst of all this hoopla about Deep Impact, I haven't been able to give the proper attention to Cassini, which began its second year of operations at Saturn today.

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Deep Impact encounter minus 3 days

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/01 11:45 CDT

OK, I'm in...I arrived at an unusually empty Jet Propulsion Laboratory this morning in advance of the first Deep Impact encounter press conference.

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The Mystery of Cosmos 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/07/01 11:45 CDT

I know I've probably disappointed a few people by not having had anything much to say about Cosmos 1 for a while. It's because, well, we haven't had anything much to say.

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Changes to the Deep Impact encounter timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/30 05:13 CDT

A reader has pointed out that JPL has changed their online press kit for Deep Impact, which was my primary source material for the encounter timeline.

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News: All of Earth's Eyes Are on Tempel 1 as Deep Impact Zeroes In on Comet...

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.

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"Mars Spectacular!"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/28 02:18 CDT

Apparently there is a bogus email circulating around the Web with the following text: "The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!" But Mars is not about to appear "as large as the full Moon."

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News: Dark Spot Near the South Pole: A Candidate Lake on Titan?

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.

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Heads up: the Deep Impact encounter is coming up!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/28 10:56 CDT

Less than a week remains before the Deep Impact mission is set to meet its fate at Tempel 1. A mission like this has been a dream for planetary scientists for a long time.

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A couple of pics from Cassini at periapsis

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.

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A new adventure

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/27 04:41 CDT

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"We have a live spacecraft..."

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/21 09:41 CDT

...we think.

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Cosmos 1: Another rehearsal...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/06/15 06:21 CDT

Rehearsals don't always go so well, which is the whole point of rehearsals. That was true both for us and for the Russians today, in separate simulations of mission operations.

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"Our works with the spacecraft are finished successfully."

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.

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New Mosaics of Huygens' Titan Images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/05/05 11:00 CDT

Although the two spacecraft traveled a billion kilometers together to study Titan, Cassini and Huygens are two very different types of missions.

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Cassini's Radio Ear on Huygens

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/02/14 10:00 CST

Scientists have released a new sound from Huygens, representing the radio signal that Cassini detected from the little probe as it descended to Titan's surface.

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News: Radio Astronomers Rescue Science Results for Huygens' Doppler Wind Experiment

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.

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3-D Views of Titan's Surface from Huygens

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.

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They Were the First, and the Last, to Hear from Huygens

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/02/07 10:00 CST

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?

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Huygens' Descending View of Titan

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.

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Raw Images from Huygens

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.

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New Images from the Huygens Probe: Shorelines and Channels, But an Apparently Dry Surface

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.

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Huygens blog: "It's impossible to resist the speculation."

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.

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Huygens landing day live blog

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/01/14 04:10 CST

A frequently updated blog with the tumultuous events of Huygens' landing on Titan.

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Huygens blog: "This is probably not the best day to speculate."

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.

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Huygens blog: It's going to be great!

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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