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Blogs

Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2006

Mars Odyssey is in safe mode

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/12/07 11:41 CST

According to an update posted on the Athena website by Steve Squyres this morning, the Mars Odyssey orbiter has gone in to safe mode.

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New Horizons spots Pluto!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/11/29 10:24 CST

Yesterday the New Horizons team released a flicker animation showing the spacecraft's first sight of Pluto, using the LORRI long-range imaging instrument.

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Still no word from Mars Global Surveyor

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/11/14 07:59 CST

It's now been nine days since Mars Global Surveyor was last heard from.

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New Horizons is locked on target for its Jupiter encounter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/11/02 09:35 CST

Alan Stern just posted a detailed update on the status of New Horizons in his PI's Perspective blog on the mission website.

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Last two days to send your photo in to the New Horizons Digital Time Capsule!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/10/30 11:31 CST

Time's almost up to submit a photo to the New Horizons Digital Time Capsule!

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MESSENGER's Venus flyby successful

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/10/24 02:51 CDT

A press release just hit my mailbox stating that MESSENGER has been heard from since its Venus flyby, so there are now only four flybys to go before MESSENGER will be in orbit at Mercury!

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MESSENGER is approaching its first Venus flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/10/23 01:40 CDT

There is a big event taking place tomorrow: the MESSENGER spacecraft flies by Venus for the first time.

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More time, and a great prize, for the New Horizons Digital Time Capsule

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/07/12 06:01 CDT

We just issued a press release announcing that the deadline has been extended to enter photos into the New Horizons Digital Time Capsule.

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MESSENGER has flipped for the last time

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/06/21 01:59 CDT

I just received a MESSENGER mission news update stating that the MESSENGER spacecraft, en route to Mercury via two Venus flybys, has passed another milestone on its long journey: it has, for the last time, passed from Earth's environs toward the inner solar system.

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New Horizons tracks an asteroid

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/06/15 03:06 CDT

New Horizons is spending the summer traversing the asteroid belt. I haven't written a lot about New Horizons lately because the mission has been going so uneventfully well. But now I've got something to write about: data!!

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An Odyssey THEMIS image of Gale Crater, Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/26 12:57 CDT

This week's releases from the Mars Odyssey THEMIS team included a gorgeous one of the layered interior of Gale crater.

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A couple of neat artist's conceptions of ExoMars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/26 11:32 CDT

With the Aurora program under way, the next European mission to Mars will be a rover named ExoMars, to be launched in 2011.

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Europe goes ahead with Aurora

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/24 08:21 CDT

This item is a little bit old -- I missed it when it was announced last Monday. ESA issued a press release stating that "European ministers approve the Aurora Exploration Programme and give green light for the ExoMars mission."

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OPAG, Day 2: Ground-based study of the small bodies in the outer solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/07 08:10 CDT

After the political discussions of the morning, Mike Brown stood up to give the "highly subjective view of one ground-based astronomer," he said.

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OPAG, Day 2: Update from the NASA Advisory Committee meetings this week

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/07 08:09 CDT

During the first day of OPAG, the chair of the group, Fran Bagenal, was not present because she was participating in some rather important discussions taking place in Maryland.

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OPAG, Day 1: Status of radioisotope power and communications support for future missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/06 03:08 CDT

Following the mission- and science-focused presentations of the morning, there came two rather alarming presentations.

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OPAG, Day 1: Uranus equinox is coming up

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/06 11:05 CDT

Heidi Hammel gave a brief but spirited presentation designed to wake up the audience to the fact that Uranus is fast approaching its equinox, an event that will happen on December 7, 2007.

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OPAG, Day 1: Hot-air ballooning on Titan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/06 10:46 CDT

The next presentation at OPAG was given by Ralph Lorenz and Tom Spilker on a Titan Montgolfiere Mission Study. What's a Montgolfiere, you ask?

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OPAG, Day 1: Getting to Europa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/05 07:37 CDT

Next up at the Outer Planets Assessment Group meeting was an overview of the plans for future Europa missions.

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OPAG, Day 1: Cassini and Juno status

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/05 06:15 CDT

The Outer Planets Assessment Group opened with the status of two of the three actual outer planets missions, Cassini and Juno.

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OPAG: Looking back

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/05 05:30 CDT

The two-day meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group is over and I have 30-odd pages of notes to wrestle with.

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OPAG: A brief update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/04 09:21 CDT

It's already 9:00 and I've hardly begun assimilating my 16 pages of notes, so I am going to have to just post a short summary with some highlights from today's meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group, or OPAG.

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Too much outer planets news for me to read (much less report on)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/04 08:51 CDT

Before I get to my notes from OPAG I want to minimally acknowledge today's news, which I'll have to get to in more detail later.

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New items on the website: Rover update and Stardust@home

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/05/01 06:54 CDT

I just wanted to point out a couple of new items on the website.

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Get used to this view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/04/19 04:10 CDT

Get used to this view of Home Plate and Husband Hill, because Spirit will be seeing a lot of it over the next 8 months, whenever power levels permit the rover to eke a little bit of science activity out of the day.

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New Horizons passes farther from the Sun than Mars today!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/04/06 02:02 CDT

Today is the day that New Horizons passes Mars' orbit (not that Mars is anywhere close to New Horizons right now).

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MESSENGER's science team pages

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/27 01:47 CST

A news update from the MESSENGER mission last Friday included a news item that piqued my interest: they reported that the MESSENGER science team website is now live.

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LPSC: Friday: Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/20 04:54 CST

The audience was rapt as Project Manager Jun'ichiro Kawaguchi stood up to give an introduction to the Hayabusa spacecraft and described the saga of the mission to date.

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LPSC: Thursday: Can bugs get from Earth to Europa?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/20 03:30 CST

LPSC: Thursday: Can bugs get from Earth to Europa?

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LPSC: The Poster Sessions, Tuesday and Thursday

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/20 01:25 CST

LPSC: The Poster Sessions, Tuesday and Thursday

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LPSC: Thursday: The Moons of Jupiter and the future of Outer Planet Exploration

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/18 12:07 CST

LPSC: Thursday: The Moons of Jupiter and the future of Outer Planet Exploration

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LPSC: Thursday: The Moons of Jupiter and the future of Outer Planet Exploration

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/17 09:07 CST

I said earlier I was going to cover the poster sessions next, and there are some cool things that I want to write about, but I thought I'd better get to something a bit more topical a bit sooner: Europa and the other Galilean satellites, and when (if!?) we'll be exploring them again.

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Notes from this morning's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter press conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/03/08 10:48 CST

They held the usual pre-arrival press conference this morning for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This press conference typically doesn't convey any information that people who have been paying attention don't already know.

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Suggestions for names of Pluto's moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/02/21 10:23 CST

I received quite a number of emails containing suggested names for Pluto's moons -- thanks! I just sent all the suggestions to Alan Stern; here they are for everybody's enjoyment.

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Speaking of Pluto...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/02/20 07:31 CST

I just posted today's installment of Planetary Radio, in which Mat Kaplan gets an update on New Horizons from Principal Investigator Alan Stern-- check it out!

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The Orbital Dance of Epimetheus and Janus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/02/07 11:00 CST

Saturn is surrounded by a crowded family of rings and moons, and two of those moons -- Epimetheus and Janus -- orbit Saturn so close together that it seems as though their different orbital speeds should make them crash into each other.

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Where is New Horizons now?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/30 10:59 CST

It's in space, of course, and has a very, very long way to go to Pluto (nearly 50 billion kilometers). But it's finally more than 1 Astronomical Unit from the Sun.

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New Horizons update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/23 08:29 CST | 1 comments

I received a lot of email over the weekend about New Horizons. Many of them were expressing concern about how little news there has been since launch. Have no fear.

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New Horizons post-launch press conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/19 12:01 CST

I am updating this as I take notes from the press conference.

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OK, back to New Horizons!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/19 07:55 CST

So the Stardust press conference is still going on on NASA TV, but I am now turning to the Internet to monitor the status of New Horizons' third attempted launch day.

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How New Horizons' launch date affects its arrival date

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/18 03:28 CST

I was looking at that table of launch times for New Horizons and realized that the table included another valuable column of data that I hadn't noticed before: it tells you what year New Horizons will arrive, for each of the possible launch dates.

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New Horizons launch scrubbed for today.

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 11:28 CST

Well, it was a nail-biting morning and too bad that New Horizons didn't go but these things happen pretty frequently.

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Now launch is scheduled for the last possible time, 20:23 UTC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 10:59 CST

OK, here's the final timeline for today.

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Now launch is scheduled at 20:05 UTC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 10:44 CST

That leaves less than 20 minutes in the window I think. It's not looking good for today but it could still happen.

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New launch time: 19:50 UTC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 10:29 CST

This time it's a problem within the Deep Space Network. They can't get out of the hold as scheduled, so launch has been delayed again.

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Launch time is changing again to 19:10 UTC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 09:40 CST

The winds are still questionable. Here is a new launch timeline.

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Still T minus 4 and holding...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 09:23 CST

Good news and bad news for the launch of New Horizons today.

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Launch time is changing; still T minus 4 and holding

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 09:16 CST

The launch time has been changed to 13:45 eastern time because of the LOX valve and the winds. Here's a new timeline based on that launch time.

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T minus 4 minutes and holding

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 09:10 CST

It's a built-in 10-minute hold. All of the fill sequences are complete, someone just reported.

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T minus 21 minutes...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 08:53 CST

They seemed to be discussing some kind of anomaly with one of the pre-launch tests on the launch vehicle, but I didn't catch exactly what it was; something was "not exactly as planned."

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T minus 40 minutes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 08:35 CST

The Centaur and Atlas stages are just about full of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, with "topping in progress..."

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Some more New Horizons stuff for you to read as the clock ticks down...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 07:25 CST

Last night Amir Alexander posted a very thorough pre-launch news story on New Horizons, "New Horizons Set to Launch on 9 Year Voyage to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt." There are lots of details in there I haven't read anywhere else.

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Now it's T minus two hours and counting!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 07:19 CST

So the countdown is continuing, and the weather looks fantastic. Here's the expected timeline from this point, assuming that the launch happens at the very opening of the launch window.

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New Horizons: T minus two hours and holding...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 07:08 CST

Here we go! New Horizons is poised for launch today, and I'm watching the feed on NASA TV to keep my eye on the status of the mission.

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New Horizons progress report

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/12 02:39 CST

There's a new "Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report" from Kennedy Space Center and it looks like everything is on schedule for a Tuesday launch for New Horizons.

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The Road to New Horizons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/10 11:23 CST

Amir Alexander has just posted a thoroughly researched story of the complicated history of New Horizons -- check it out!

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Great news for New Horizons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/09 08:08 CST

I'll just make this an "all New Horizons" morning. The latest Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report from Kennedy Space Center has some good news for New Horizons.

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What will happen just after New Horizons' launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/09 06:54 CST

Over the weekend, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern posted a new "P.I. Perspective" on the official website, and it contained some interesting facts about what's planned for the days immediately following New Horizons' launch.

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