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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2010

Door 31 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 31, 2010

Time to open the thirty-first (and next-to-last) door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these dark-rimmed craters?

Bye bye, Kodachrome, but "Kodak moments" will live on in space

Emily Lakdawalla • December 31, 2010

This week is the end for Kodachrome film. It's a casualty of the digital revolution.

Door 30 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 30, 2010

Time to open the thirtieth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this ridged crater?

The Year in Pictures: 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • December 30, 2010

I've just posted my annual roundup of significant images from planetary exploration in 2010.

What's up in the solar system in January 2011 - and the rest of the year in preview

Emily Lakdawalla • December 30, 2010

Ready for the New Year? It's going to be an exciting one.

Door 29 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 29, 2010

Time to open the twenty-ninth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this fractured flowing ice?

A unique look inside the SOFIA telescope and other cool stuff

Emily Lakdawalla • December 29, 2010

Did you know that before Bill Nye was the Planetary Guy or even the Science Guy he was an aerospace engineer, designing components for the Boeing 747?

SOHO's 2000th comet

Emily Lakdawalla • December 29, 2010

SOHO was launched more than 15 years ago to study the Sun, primarily; but a side benefit of its constant observation of the Sun has been its ability to notice "sungrazers," comets that are on deadly close approaches to our star.

Door 28 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 28, 2010

Time to open the twenty-eighth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this cratered and streaked surface?

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Small Worlds

Emily Lakdawalla • December 27, 2010

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Small Worlds, about the smaller denizens of the solar system visited in the past year, and due to be visited in the next.

Door 27 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 27, 2010

Time to open the twenty-seventh door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this flat-floored depression?

1000 Akatsukis; "Faulty valve caused Akatsuki failure"

Emily Lakdawalla • December 27, 2010

In a move that's kind of hard to understand in the wake of the immense public outreach success of the Hayabusa mission, JAXA is closing JAXA i, its public information center in Tokyo today (December 28 in Japan).

Door 26 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 26, 2010

Time to open the twenty-sixth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this rayed crater?

Door 25 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 25, 2010

Time to open the twenty-fifth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these conjoined craters?

Door 24 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 24, 2010

Each day until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system are these squirrely spots?

Door 23 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 23, 2010

Time to open the twenty-third door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this oozing wound?

Door 22 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 22, 2010

Time to open the twenty-second door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these degraded craters?

Mimas wanders in to view

Emily Lakdawalla • December 21, 2010

Cassini's busy downlinking photos from yesterday's close pass by Enceladus, including some neat shots of Dione and this one where Mimas skipped briefly in to the field of view.

Door 21 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 21, 2010

Time to open the twenty-first door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this rumpled blanket?

Akatsuki update: more detail on first failure report

Emily Lakdawalla • December 20, 2010

Ordinarily it's not my thing to do so many updates on a mission that failed to arrive in orbit, but I know that it's difficult for English-speaking readers to locate information on Asian missions so I'm keeping up the reporting on Akatsuki.

Door 20 in the 2010 advent calendar (special news update)

Emily Lakdawalla • December 20, 2010

Time to open the twentieth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this diffuse blob and stripy sea?

Lunar eclipse tonight, mid-eclipse at 08:17 Dec 21 UT

Emily Lakdawalla • December 20, 2010

Unless you live under a rock you probably know that there is a total lunar eclipse tonight, one that should be particularly favorable for viewing from North America but which will be at least partially visible to viewers in South America, Europe, and easternmost Asia and Australia too.

Door 19 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 19, 2010

Time to open the nineteenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these folded rocks?

Door 18 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 18, 2010

Time to open the eighteenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this brush-stroked surface?

Updates on Hayabusa and Akatsuki: second chamber opened, possible engine nozzle breakage

Emily Lakdawalla • December 17, 2010

The Hayabusa update is brief: having opened the first Hayabusa sample return chamber (compartment A) last month, JAXA has now opened compartment B, and they found nothing inside.

Door 17 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 17, 2010

Time to open the seventeenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these strange promontories?

Door 16 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 16, 2010

Time to open the sixteenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this widespread fan?

Help to hunt for planets!

Emily Lakdawalla • December 16, 2010

The Planet Hunters website, like Zooniverse's other projects, is very, very easy to get up and running.

Door 15 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 15, 2010

Time to open the fifteenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this cratered world?

Opportunity drives within 20 meters of Santa Maria, spots alligator's tail

Emily Lakdawalla • December 15, 2010

Today Opportunity has driven to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater, and the blocks around it are really, really cool-looking. This one is a dead ringer for the severed tail of an alligator.

Phobos Photobomb

Emily Lakdawalla • December 15, 2010

Don't blink when you play the video below -- it's only 15 seconds long, but it's so cool.

Door 14 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 14, 2010

Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door each day onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system are these red freckles?

Opportunity: "So close we can taste it" to Santa Maria

Emily Lakdawalla • December 14, 2010

Opportunity is on a kilometers-long eastward road trip across Meridiani Planum toward the rim of a large ancient crater named Endeavour; it'll be many months yet before she gets there.

IKAROS flew past Venus on December 8

Emily Lakdawalla • December 14, 2010

Just after Akatsuki missed entering orbit, another spacecraft, IKAROS, quietly passed by Venus.

Talk at AGU today: "Snapshots from Space"

Emily Lakdawalla • December 13, 2010

I had planned to be in San Francisco today to present at the 2010 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in an Education and Public Affairs session.

Door 13 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 13, 2010

Time to open the thirteenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these parallel gouges?

Door 12 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 12, 2010

Time to open the twelfth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this trapezoidal mountain?

Door 11 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 11, 2010

Time to open the eleventh door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system are these sinuous ridges?

Akatsuki update: Failure to enter orbit due to insufficient fuel pressure

Emily Lakdawalla • December 10, 2010

An English-language article in the December 11 Yomiuri Shimbun summarizes the news from the Akatsuki press briefing held at 11:00 December 10 JST (last night, my time). It's succinct and clear so I'm reposting it here.

NanoSail-D Mission Status Update

Emily Lakdawalla • December 10, 2010

Here's the latest from the NASA site about NanoSail-D.

I'll be presenting at the American Geophysical Union Meeting next week

Emily Lakdawalla • December 10, 2010

I'm going to just one day of the enormous annual American Geophysical Union meeting next week, and I am actually presenting a talk!

Door 10 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 10, 2010

Time to open the tenth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this jumble of bouldery fissures?

Come back, Venus.....

Emily Lakdawalla • December 09, 2010

This image is so, so beautiful, and so, so sad.

Door 9 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 09, 2010

Time to open the ninth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this jumble of boulders and fissures?

Enjoy a year in space

Emily Lakdawalla • December 09, 2010

Every year, The Planetary Society and Starry Messenger Press collaborate on a "Year in Space" desk calendar, where each week is accompanied by a gorgeous space image.

Akatsuki update, two days later

Emily Lakdawalla • December 09, 2010

I've got two more pieces of information to share on Akatsuki further to what I posted yesterday. The first one is a worrying detail about what went wrong during orbit insertion.

Door 8 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 08, 2010

Time to open the eighth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this nearly flat plain?

SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9; orbits, returns Dragon capsule

Emily Lakdawalla • December 08, 2010

"Falcon 9 nailed it!" said Bill Nye said this morning, congratulating SpaceX on what has looked like a flawless launch, orbit, and return of the Dragon capsule aboard its Falcon 9 rocket.

Akatsuki update, a day after the failure to enter orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • December 08, 2010

JAXA held two press briefings about Akatsuki yesterday. Reports in both English and Japanese based on these press briefings have cleared up some, but not all, of the mystery about what happened and what is to happen with Akatsuki.

Book reviews: Killing Pluto; Stars Above; Jars to Stars

Emily Lakdawalla • December 08, 2010

I meant to get these posted weeks ago, along with my reviews of kids' space books, but better late than never!

Akatsuki has failed to enter Venus orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • December 07, 2010

There is a press briefing happening right now in Japan, and it's terrible news: Akatsuki failed to enter Venus orbit.

Door 7 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 07, 2010

Time to open the seventh door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this icy bridge?

Akatsuki update: safe mode, still talking to Earth, but slowly

Emily Lakdawalla • December 07, 2010

A press release (PDF) was posted in Japanese on the Akatsuki website this morning with some official information on the mission status. Here is a translation of the text.

Something has not gone right with Akatsuki, but they have communications

Emily Lakdawalla • December 06, 2010

I was unable to follow Akatsuki's entry into Venus orbit in real time due to family obligations. Checking in now, about four hours after it was to have entered orbit, it seems that something did not go correctly, but not much information is available.

Door 6 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 06, 2010

Time to open the sixth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system are these snowy slopes?

Akatsuki enters orbit at Venus today!

Emily Lakdawalla • December 06, 2010

In just a few hours, Venus will have a second orbiter. Japan's Akatsuki is due to start firing its orbit insertion engines on December 7.

Door 5 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 05, 2010

Time to open the fifth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this meandering river?

Door 4 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 04, 2010

Time to open the fourth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this crater-specked mound?

Door 3 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 03, 2010

Time to open the third door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system is this wispy terrain?

Best "Arsenic and Odd Life" coverage

Emily Lakdawalla • December 03, 2010

Last night I asked via Twitter for recommendations for articles that did the best job explaining the significance of the work, by people who actually read the relevant paper in Science.

Door 2 in the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 02, 2010

Time to open the second door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Can you guess where this crater-scarred surface lies?

Carnival of Space #179, Kids in Space, Lou's View

Emily Lakdawalla • December 01, 2010

Wander over to Weird Sciences for the 179th Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

Door 1 in the Planetary Society Blog 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • December 01, 2010

December really has arrived, and that means that the year is racing to a close. Continuing last year's tradition, I'm counting the days to the New Year with an advent calendar, where each "door" opens onto a global image of a different world in the solar system.

What's up in the solar system in December 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • November 30, 2010

The year is racing to a close — I can't believe December is here already! Here's Olaf Frohn's map of where everybody is on December 1st.

What's the significance of this unremarkable spot on the Moon?

Emily Lakdawalla • November 29, 2010

This was a fun image released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera science team. Take a look at it and see if you can figure out what the significance of the red arrow is.

A few Mars Express Phobos goodies

Emily Lakdawalla • November 26, 2010

To celebrate Mars Express' recent mission extension to 2014, here are some cool pictures that it took of Mars' inner and larger moon Phobos.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Final set of Voyager Mission Status Bulletins: The Voyager 2 Neptune flyby and beyond

Emily Lakdawalla • November 24, 2010

I'm surprised no one's emailed me demanding the last batch of Voyager mission status bulletins! Well, here they are.

ESA commits to extending 11 missions' space operations for 3 years

Emily Lakdawalla • November 23, 2010

Europe is apparently of the mind that science and technology will help to carry them out of tough economic times, and has made three-year commitments to continue the in-space operations of 11 missions through 2014.

Two signs we're living in the 21st century: SpaceX and Stardust

Emily Lakdawalla • November 22, 2010

Two brief but significant news items today made me stop and think about how far we've come in space travel.

Stars Above, Earth Below Calendars and other space gifty goodies

Emily Lakdawalla • November 22, 2010

Ever since I first saw Tyler Nordgren's awe-inspiring photographs of the Milky Way arching above the natural wonders of the national parks, I knew I wanted them on my wall. Well, now I can get them, and you can too.

Jupiter's outbreak is spreading

Emily Lakdawalla • November 22, 2010

Jupiter, always a pretty sight in the sky, is now worth visiting every day; the "outbreak" that heralds the return of Jupiter's formerly red, now fadedsouth equatorial belt is expanding and multiplying.

Reviews of Ten Space-themed Books for Kids

Emily Lakdawalla • November 19, 2010

As I did last year, I'm hereby posting reviews and comments on every recent space book for kids that's crossed my desk in the last several months.

Miscellany

Emily Lakdawalla • November 18, 2010

The saddest item of business to note in this linky post is that noted astronomer Brian Marsden, retired director of the Minor Planet Center and a good friend to many, passed away yesterday at the age of 73.

Deep Impact at Hartley 2: Two weeks after the flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • November 18, 2010

Today the Deep Impact/EPOXI science team held a press briefing that followed up on their very successful flyby of two weeks ago, a status report on what they can say so far about the science that's coming out of the encounter.

Asteroids and comets to scale, including Hartley 2

Emily Lakdawalla • November 18, 2010

Just in time for today's Deep Impact press briefing, which you can watch on NASA TV in a few minutes: I've updated my montage of all the asteroids and comets that have been visited and photographed to include Hartley 2.

A little more information on the Hayabusa samples from Itokawa

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2010

Since I posted an update Monday about JAXA confirming extraterrestrial samples in the Hayabusa sample return capsule, JAXA has posted an English-language version of their press release, which contains a bit more information.

A message from Bill Nye

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2010

While giving a talk at the University of Southern California last night, Planetary Society Executive Director Bill Nye fainted briefly, but returned to his feet and finished delivering his presentation.

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's in a Science Meeting?

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2010

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, What's in a Science Meeting?, about what scientists do at big meetings like the Division of Planetary Sciences.

I can't wait for MAHLI to land on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • November 16, 2010

JPL has just released some test images from the camera that has just been installed on the end of the Curiosity rover's robotic arm.

JAXA announcement: Itokawa sample return successful!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 15, 2010

It's official: in a press release today, JAXA announced that some 1,500 dust grains scraped from the interior of Hayabusa's clean-looking sample return capsule are not of terrestrial origin so must be from Itokawa.

Five amazing engineering camera videos from Chang'E 2

Emily Lakdawalla • November 14, 2010

I couldn't believe these videos when I first saw them: five views from engineering cameras of important events in the Chang'E 2 spacecraft's journey to the Moon.

The Disturbance is Starting

Emily Lakdawalla • November 11, 2010

Jupiter's faded belt may be coming back.

DPS 2010: Centaurs and Trans-Neptunian objects

Emily Lakdawalla • November 11, 2010

I attended all day Tuesday of the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting on October 5. The afternoon session on Tuesday was a grab bag about different small objects in the outermost solar system.

Opportunity bags a few craters

Emily Lakdawalla • November 10, 2010

In the last few days, Opportunity's passed by several craters, and the rover drivers took advantage of the chance encounters for what they call "drive-by shooting" (a phrase I can't say I'm particularly fond of, but they didn't ask me).

WISE's first brown (green?) dwarf

Emily Lakdawalla • November 09, 2010

Look at the center of this star-studded image and you'll find an emerald green dot.

An awesome animation of Jupiter's clouds

Emily Lakdawalla • November 09, 2010

Ready to see something beautiful? Here's a team effort by Björn Jónsson and Ian Regan to create a really mesmerizing view of the motions of Jupiter's clouds.

In which I finally write up last week's Deep Impact Hartley 2 press briefing

Emily Lakdawalla • November 09, 2010

On Thursday, November 4, at 13:50 UTC, Deep Impact flew within 700 kilometers of comet Hartley 2. Hartley 2 is the smallest and most active of the five comets that have been directly by a spacecraft, and the first to be visited within the lifetime of its discoverer.

Eris might be smaller than Pluto after all (but it's still more massive)

Emily Lakdawalla • November 08, 2010

Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.

Fly over Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • November 08, 2010

Adrian Lark has posted several new flights over gorgeous Martian landscapes to his Youtube channel. My favorite of his recent ones is this dive into Zumba crater.

Hartley 2 compared to other comets, and in motion 3D

Emily Lakdawalla • November 05, 2010

I had to catch up with tasks left undone at home today and didn't have time to write up my notes from the Hartley 2 press briefing, for which I apologize. I'll leave you for the weekend with three cool Hartley 2 pictures.

Hartley 2's jets

Emily Lakdawalla • November 04, 2010

It was a very happy set of scientists, engineers, managers, and administrators who filled the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Von Karman auditorium this afternoon to do the postgame show on Deep Impact's flyby of Hartley 2.

Animation of the five closest-approach Hartley 2 images

Emily Lakdawalla • November 04, 2010

Those of you who follow my blog must have known this was coming: now that I got all five new Deep Impact images of Comet Hartley 2 posted and explained, I had to make an animation. Here they are.

Five close-approach images of Hartley 2 by Deep Impact, with commentary

Emily Lakdawalla • November 04, 2010

Here's the five close-approach images of Hartley 2 captured today, November 4, 2010, by the Deep Impact spacecraft, collected into one file. Boy, do these images reward close examination!

Close approach images of Hartley 2!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 04, 2010

What a dramatic and cool photo! An asteroid with two lobes like Borrelly, lumpy and bouldery like Itokawa, with gorgeous active jets, dramatically lit. Well done, Deep Impact team!

Deep Impact successfully passed closest approach, signal reaquired, data downlinking

Emily Lakdawalla • November 04, 2010

Just a very brief update to congratulate the Deep Impact team on what was apparently a successful flyby of Hartley 2!

Deep Impact's encounter with Hartley 2 is beginning; flyby in 17 hours

Emily Lakdawalla • November 03, 2010

According to the mission timeline, the Deep Impact high-resolution observations of Hartley 2 are beginning in just a few minutes, at 20:50 according to the clock on the spacecraft.

Carnival of Space #176 and Lou's View

Emily Lakdawalla • November 03, 2010

Travel to Kentucky for the 176th Carnival of Space -- bet you didn't know Kentucky had space industry!

Deep Impact movies of outbursts from Hartley 2

Emily Lakdawalla • November 01, 2010

Since comet Hartley 2 -- the target of Deep Impact's November 4 flyby -- is near its perihelion, it's no surprise that it's an active comet with lots of outbursts.

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