EDIT: Yikes! I forgot to include Sam in my "Thank you" list below. That error has been fixed. Sorry, Sam!
Emily here again. I hope everyone has had a grand summer! As of this morning, August 3, I am officially back to work. A lot has happened out there in the solar system in the three months since Sanaya was born. Although I haven't been blogging, I've been doing my best to keep up with space news. I was thrilled by the flawless launch of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS on June 18; I've been following the efforts to free the Spirit rover from its powdery sand trap on the edge of Home Plate; and I've been wowed by the images, both amateur and professional, of the massive impact blemish on Jupiter.
I'll do my best to catch up with these stories, but will probably take a few weeks to ease into my previous blogging pace. I got pretty good at juggling one kid and a part-time job, but it'll take some practice, I think, for me to manage an active three-year-old (who is, blessedly, at a school she loves on weekdays) and a growing baby (who will be at home with me) while writing this blog, and I'll probably only be able to give it 10 or 15 hours a week to start. But I'll try to make those 10 or 15 quality hours!
One thing I have been doing throughout my maternity leave is to maintain a presence on two social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter. I've found Twitter a handy place for me to share links to interesting stories or beautiful images, and I'll continue to use it as a place to post links to stories that I don't have time to do a full writeup on, and to write about rapidly developing events like spacecraft launches. (In fact, I used Twitter to follow the launch of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.) If you're a Twitter user, please show your support by "following" me! As of this morning I have 487 followers; I'd like to push to get to 1,000.
I am deeply grateful to all of the folks who worked so hard to keep this blog active during my absence -- Jim, Mark, Alan, Ken, Dave, John, Timothy, 5thstar, Kelly, Anne, Zibi, Sam, and Jani. I consider it my job to communicate the enthusiasm of space scientists and engineers to the public -- so I love it when those people take the time to cut out the middleman and speak to you (and me!) directly about the missions and places that they feel such passion for.
Thanks, too, to all the readers who've stuck it out for the summer, and stay tuned for my take on what's surprising, fun, thought-provoking, important, or beautiful out there beyond Earth's atmosphere!