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Blogs

Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2010

Three days until Deep Impact's encounter with Hartley 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/01 01:27 CDT

The week is finally here: Deep Impact flies past Hartley 2, the smallest comet yet to be visited by a spacecraft, on Thursday, November 4 at 13:50 UTC.

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Arecibo images show Hartley 2 is elongated

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/29 11:33 CDT

Comet Hartley 2, the target for Deep Impact's close flyby (now just six days away!) made its closest approach to Earth on October 20, at a distance of 17.7 million kilometers.

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Pretty picture: Three moons of Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/29 12:08 CDT

The Cassini Raw Images Website always offers rewards to the browser. This evening I found the raw images necessary to create this color composite, showing the hazy orange moon Titan, the mid-sized icy moon Dione, and the tiny rock Prometheus all at the same time.

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In which I report on w00tstock and wonder how to get nerds more excited about real space exploration

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/28 12:19 CDT

(I promise that this post will get around to the subject of space exploration in a couple of paragraphs.)

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What's up in the solar system in November 2010

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/27 02:37 CDT

The major event of the month will be, of course, Deep Impact's flyby of small comet Hartley 2, which happens at 13:50 UTC on November 4. But there's some other things to take note of.

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An update to the Cassini Tour Page

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/27 11:24 CDT

Where's the Cassini Saturn orbiter going to be in the next week -- or hundred weeks? It's all already planned out.

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Holy cow, is it really the 175th Carnival of Space already?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/26 10:18 CDT

175th Carnival of Space!? That means the Carnival of Space has been going on for nearly 4 years. Or just about 2 Mars years. Pretty amazing.

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A couple of tidbits from today's Deep Impact preview briefing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/26 03:01 CDT

Today was the press briefing that previewed the upcoming Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2.

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DPS 2010: Pluto and Charon opposition surges, Nix and Hydra masses, Pluto and Eris compositions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/25 11:18 CDT

An awful lot of the talks in the Pluto session on Tuesday morning, October 5, at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting spent more time focusing on how bad weather conditions were during the astronomers' attempts to view Pluto as it occulted background stars than they did on any measurements or science that came out from the data.

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Curiosity Cam: Watch Men and Women in White build a Mars rover live!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/22 01:33 CDT

Curiosity Cam: Watch Men and Women in White build a Mars rover live!

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Tyler Nordgren's awesome "Planetary Park" posters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/22 12:49 CDT

Tyler Nordgren's awesome "Planetary Park" posters

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LCROSS finds lots of water in accessible places at the Moon's south pole -- but we'll have to tread carefully

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/21 06:03 CDT

LCROSS finds lots of water in accessible places at the Moon's south pole -- but we'll have to tread carefully

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DPS 2010: Triton's craters, a friendly dispute

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/21 11:33 CDT

DPS 2010: Triton's craters, a friendly dispute

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Hey Federal employees! Send your CFC funds to the Planetary Society

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/21 11:30 CDT

Hey Federal employees! Send your CFC funds to the Planetary Society

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A Rhea flyby and a cloudy Titan with Tethys in color

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/20 02:02 CDT

A Rhea flyby and a cloudy Titan with Tethys in color

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Meeting the President and a Few Other Amazing People

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/19 06:51 CDT

Meeting the President and a Few Other Amazing People

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365 Days of Astronomy to Continue in 2011!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/19 12:48 CDT

365 Days of Astronomy to Continue in 2011!

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Every-other-line truncation of Cassini images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/19 12:34 CDT

Every-other-line truncation of Cassini images

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Deep Impact Hartley 2 encounter timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/18 06:27 CDT

Deep Impact Hartley 2 encounter timeline

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Voyager Mission Status Bulletins: The Voyager 2 Uranus flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/15 03:45 CDT

Voyager Mission Status Bulletins: The Voyager 2 Uranus flyby

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Crack the code for a message from Mars, redux

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/14 07:02 CDT

Waaaay back when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004, the Planetary Society helped the public participate in the missions with a number of projects, including one where we printed "secret codes" around the edges of the two names-bearing DVDs that were bolted to the Mars Exploration Rover landers.

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Congratulations to the IKAROS team for their "8th Web Creation Award"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/13 05:07 CDT

This news is a little old but worth mentioning: On September 9, the Japanese solar sail mission, IKAROS, won a Web award in Japan for their work to publicize the mission via Twitter.

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"A very sad story": No rings for Rhea after all

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/12 04:30 CDT

"A very sad story": No rings for Rhea after all

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Space Station transit of Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/11 11:20 CDT

Space Station transit of Venus

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Six moons with one shot

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/09 05:46 CDT

Six moons with one shot

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DPS 2010: Friday morning at Titan's surface

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/08 06:40 CDT

DPS 2010: Friday morning at Titan's surface

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I'm part of the conspiracy, apparently

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/08 04:47 CDT

I'm part of the conspiracy, apparently

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New Hubble images and rotation movie of Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/08 04:19 CDT

New Hubble images and rotation movie of Vesta

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Chang'E 2 update: in orbit and returning data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/08 11:34 CDT

Chang'E 2 update: in orbit and returning data

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Little notes from Monday at DPS 2010: Iapetus, Kiviuq, LHB, Steins, Cherry Gary, and more

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/06 11:24 CDT

Little notes from Monday at DPS 2010: Iapetus, Kiviuq, LHB, Steins, Cherry Gary, and more

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DPS 2010: Making Saturn's rings and moons all at once

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/06 05:26 CDT

DPS 2010: Making Saturn's rings and moons all at once

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I'm So Proud 2: Announcing AmateurSpaceImages.com

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/05 03:48 CDT

I'm So Proud 2: Announcing AmateurSpaceImages.com

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I'm so proud 1: UnmannedSpaceflight.com now partnered with the Planetary Society

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/05 03:46 CDT

I'm so proud 1: UnmannedSpaceflight.com now partnered with the Planetary Society

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Great news for asteroid surveys from WISE and Arecibo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/04 10:35 CDT

Great news for asteroid surveys from WISE and Arecibo

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Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3: Final discussion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/02 10:39 CDT

Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3: Final discussion

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Pretty picture: High-res color view of Prometheus and the F ring

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/01 11:23 CDT

Pretty picture: High-res color view of Prometheus and the F ring

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Division of Planetary Sciences meeting next week; Career Panel Sunday

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/01 04:58 CDT

Division of Planetary Sciences meeting next week; Career Panel Sunday

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Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3: Engineering constraints

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/01 02:36 CDT

Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3: Engineering constraints

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Lou Friedman congratulates China

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/01 12:19 CDT

Lou Friedman congratulates China

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Chang'E 2 launches to the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/01 11:31 CDT

Chang'E 2 launches to the Moon

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Mars Climate Sounder Watches Mars Weather to Prepare for Curiosity Landing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/30 12:46 CDT

I just posted the following update to the Mars Climate Sounder Team Website. I didn't realize until this message came in to my inbox that it is now one Mars year before Curiosity lands. Tick, tick, tick...

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Chang'E 2 launches in less than 24 hours, weather permitting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/30 12:04 CDT

Here are a few photos of Chang'E 2 meeting its launch vehicle in Xichang. It's a beautiful view of the spacecraft.

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Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2: Reports from Ryan Anderson

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/30 11:37 CDT

I left the first day of the Fourth Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Community Workshop on Monday just as they were getting in to the site-specific presentations. I left with no concern that I'd miss anything, though, because I knew that once he got done presenting his own work on Gale Crater, Cornell grad student Ryan Anderson would be taking notes and blogging the presentations on the other three sites.

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Carnival of Space #171 and Planetary Radio on Science on the ISS

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/30 11:33 CDT

Carnival of Space #171 is live over at Starry Critters. Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

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What's up in the solar system in October 2010

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/29 01:34 CDT

Out in space, the most exciting things cooking this month are on Deep Impact, which is fast approaching comet Hartley 2 for a November 4 encounter, and at the Moon, which should soon see a second orbiter, China's Chang'E 2, which is set to launch Friday.

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Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 1 notes: Introduction, biosignatures, and mineralogy

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/28 05:57 CDT

I apologize in advance for the expanse of text, but I hope that some of you will find the details interesting.

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China to launch Chang'E 2 on Friday, October 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/28 12:14 CDT

Via the Lunar Listserv this morning I learned of the impending launch of a new lunar orbiter, Chang'E 2, planned for this Friday, October 1, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan.

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Fourth MSL Landing Site Workshop: A review

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/27 05:59 CDT

Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, about 200 scientists and engineers will sit in an over-air-conditioned room in Monrovia, California to participate in what is officially titled the "Fourth Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Community Workshop."

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Voyager Mission Status Bulletins: Jupiter and Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/24 01:27 CDT

Last week I posted a stack of Voyager Mission Status Bulletins, which were once the main resource for space enthusiasts to follow the dramatic events and photos of an in-flight space mission.

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Review: Recess Monkey: The Final Funktier

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/24 12:13 CDT

The Final Funktier is a kids' music album that is (a) delightful for grownups too and (b) features largely space-themed tracks. Win!

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Venus: Not so neat and tidy as we thought

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/23 12:12 CDT

Pioneer Venus discovered a stable "dipole" near Venus' north pole, and Venus Express found the same thing near Venus' south pole. Except now Venus Express has found it's not as stable as once thought.

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Opportunity rolls up to Oileán Ruaidh

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/22 05:17 CDT

Opportunity is continuing to make tracks toward Endeavour crater, but just because she's got a goal for her road trip doesn't mean she won't stop and smell the flowers from time to time. Er, did I say "flowers?" I meant "meteorites."

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Deep Impact approaching Hartley 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/22 04:23 CDT

The Deep Impact spacecraft team has released a third image from their approach to comet Hartley 2, and for me, three images is an invitation to make an animation!

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Pretty picture: Europa and Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/21 05:29 CDT

Photos like this always make me think about how unimportant size is in determining whether one of the worlds of the solar system is an exciting place.

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Seeing Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/20 04:32 CDT

I've been itching to get back to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to get a good look at Curiosity, the next Mars rover.

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It's International Observe the Moon Night

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/18 05:06 CDT

Hey everybody, go out and look up at the Moon! It's International Observe the Moon night.

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An unusual Hubble photo of Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/17 05:20 CDT

Amateur image magician Ted Stryk dug up this lovely view of Mars, captured on May 9, 2003 by the Hubble Space Telescope. This photo is unusual for its relatively high phase.

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Beyond Earth T-shirt features 23 space missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/17 11:19 CDT | 4 comments

Let other geeks have their T-shirts with fictional space explorers -- now you can emblazon your chest with 23 space missions that have really explored space!

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter press briefing: silicic volcanoes on the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/16 01:56 CDT

I'm listening to a press briefing from several members of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter science team, regarding three papers published today in Science.

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Opportunity's rocky road ahead, good news for an aging rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/15 04:38 CDT

What a difference a couple of months of driving make. Here's the sort of view of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's road ahead that I'm accustomed to, taken two months ago.

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Mars As Art

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/15 12:41 CDT

Attention Mars data trawlers! NASA Headquarters is looking for community input on an exhibition and book of "Mars As Art."

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The Voyager Mission Updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/14 01:39 CDT

We take for granted now the ability to get detailed mission updates in a timely fashion via the Web. But How did people get their mission status before the Web?

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Carnival of Space #169

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/14 01:29 CDT

The 169th Carnival of Space is live over at Next Big Future. Check it out!

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Book review: Older Than the Stars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/14 11:15 CDT

Older Than the Stars is a book about Big Bang cosmology, solar system formation, and human evolution for young children.

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Browse the Cassini RPWS data set

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/13 03:14 CDT

Periodically, usually after I've posted some images pulled out of an image archive, a reader asks me: "What about all the non-image data? Are those public too?" The answer is yes.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: The Flight of Hayabusa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/12 10:50 CDT

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, The Flight of Hayabusa, a recap of that dramatic mission.

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Pretty picture: Crescent Dione

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/10 04:02 CDT

I was busy with other projects today, so today's post just asks you to look at this gorgeous three-image mosaic of a crescent Dione, taken during Cassini's most recent flyby a week ago.

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NASA: NOT Grounded

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/09 11:40 CDT

So I just received my "special anniversary issue" of Discover magazine, to which I've been a subscriber since, I think, 1986.

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China's Yinghuo-1 Mars Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/09 05:12 CDT

A helpful reader has sent me copies of three recently published papers on China's first planetary probe, the Yinghuo-1 orbiter.

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Early warning for close approaches of two house-sized asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/08 01:31 CDT

Most of you have probably heard by now of two small asteroids, both in the neighborhood of 10 meters in diameter, recently discovered on trajectories that pass unusually close to Earth.

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Deep Impact snaps first image of flyby target comet Hartley 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/08 12:51 CDT

Deep Impact is rapidly approaching its next -- and final -- target, comet Hartley 2, which it will fly by on November 4.

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Two natural bridges on the Moon (now with 3D!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/07 01:28 CDT

Imagine this landscape: you're walking across an unusually smooth lunar surface, an impact melt sheet on the floor of a relatively recently formed crater.

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Neptune from two slightly different perspectives

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/06 10:39 CDT

Coincidentally, two new images of Neptune were posted today, from two very different sources.

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Fly over Saturn's icy moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/02 11:09 CDT

A couple of weeks ago Paul Schenk posted a few really cool videos to his personal blog. Paul's subspecialty is the topography of icy moons, and he's been doing a lot of work on the moons of Saturn lately.

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Getting to the real science image data: It's not that hard!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/01 04:14 CDT

If I have to, I will drag reluctant people one at a time to plunge into NASA's Planetary Data System.

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What's up in the solar system in September 2010

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/30 05:24 CDT

This month there will be approximately a hundred different planetary science meetings (a list of which is at the end of this post).

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Successor to Mars Climate Orbiter will fly aboard ExoMars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/30 03:20 CDT

Congratulations to the Mars Climate Sounder team on winning a spot for a successor instrument aboard the next Mars orbiter, the joint NASA-ESA ExoMars, set to launch in 2016.

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New Flickr collection of historical NASA photos

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/30 11:23 CDT

NASA announced today that they had placed several new sets of historical photos on their "NASA on the Commons" Flickr site, and invited the public to help tag and caption the photos.

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Bringing MOLA altimetry tracks into Google Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/27 05:02 CDT

I've had a fun morning of noodling around learning how to write KML files, and have produced one for Google Mars that shows you all of the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter tracks that cross the area Opportunity has driven through already, as well as the area of Endeavour crater.

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Jupiter's swirling storms from Voyager 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/26 05:28 CDT

Amateur image mage Björn Jónsson has recently turned his attention back to Voyager 1's close-up images of Jupiter.

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Review: Phil Plait's Bad Universe, new series on Discovery

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/26 12:56 CDT | 1 comments

I got an advance copy of the first episode of "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait's new series Bad Universe today.

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A first look at distant hills

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/25 12:36 CDT

Rover fans have been excitedly watching the hills on Opportunity's horizon grow taller and taller as Opportunity rolls toward its destination, Endeavour crater.

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The August 20, 2010 Jupiter fireball -- and the March 5, 1979 one

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/24 11:36 CDT

Following up on the story I first posted on August 22, the Jupiter impact fireball first noticed by Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa has been independently confirmed by two other Japanese astronomers.

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A space calendar in "the cloud"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/23 05:47 CDT | 3 comments

I've spent today fiddling around with Google Calendar and have created a wholly new calendar of space events for the blog.

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Yet another Jupiter impact!? August 20, seen from Japan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/22 05:03 CDT

This may be a very common event after all: another optical flash has been observed on Jupiter, again from an observer far east of the Greenwich meridian, though it was not Anthony Wesley (for once).

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Three things to watch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/20 05:38 CDT

It's high summer (in the northern hemisphere anyway) and many of you may be seeking shelter from the heat. If you need to collapse on the couch and watch TV, I have three space-y recommendations for you.

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Review: "The Complete Sky & Telescope: Seven Decade Collection"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/19 05:25 CDT

Sky & Telescope has just issued a set of 10 DVDs that contain every issue of the magazine published from the premier issue in November 1941 through December 2009, chronicling seven decades of scientific discovery and, of course, the entirety of the Space Age.

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The edge of "round": Three half-megameter moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/18 05:28 CDT

Part of the definition of a planet is a solar system body's roundness.

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MESSENGER: A snapshot of home

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/17 12:04 CDT

MESSENGER is in a unique position in the solar system, orbiting the Sun well within the orbit of Venus. From there, it can gaze outward from the Sun to search for tiny objects that may possibly be traveling in the same region, called vulcanoids.

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Weekend treats from Cassini: Enceladus plumes plus bonus Tethys and Dione

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/14 06:52 CDT

Over the last couple of days Cassini flew past Enceladus, Tethys and Dione, so there are lots of treats to see on the raw images website! You should go check it out for yourself, but here are a couple of real favorites.

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2008 LC15, the first Trojan asteroid discovered in Neptune's L5 point

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/13 10:52 CDT

Congratulations to Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo for identifying the first known L5 Trojan asteroid of Neptune!

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Special note to scientists: Reach out through the DPS

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/12 11:10 CDT

This note was included in yesterday's newsletter to members of the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences, and I wanted to make sure that you scientists reading this blog didn't miss it.

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The Stardust Sample Catalog

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/12 11:10 CDT

It never ceases to amaze me how much science is being wrung out of the few grams of material that were returned to Earth by the Stardust mission.

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Animation: Mars Express rising above the north pole

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/11 09:08 CDT

The "Mars Webcam" on Mars Express (otherwise known as the Visual Monitoring Camera or VMC) has just restarted sending images to Earth after a bit of a hiatus.

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How to Recognize Titan from Quite a Long Way Away

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/09 05:16 CDT

You know, I could fill this blog almost entirely with the amazing images that Gordan Ugarkovic locates, processes into prettiness, and uploads to his Flickr account.

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Last chance to sign Ray Bradbury's birthday card, and other business

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/09 04:48 CDT

Today is the very last day to add your name to the great big birthday card that The Planetary Society is sending to Ray Bradbury on the occasion of his 90th birthday (which will be on August 22)!

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Bill Nye Cuts the Ribbon at New Headquarters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/06 04:33 CDT

We brought in the big scissors to inaugurate our new Planetary Society headquarters. Incoming Executive Director, Bill Nye, cut the red ribbon at the Open House held August 5, 2010.

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Cassini catches four little moons in motion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/05 05:06 CDT

I've posted animations from Cassini before in which there are multiple moons moving around, but this is one of the coolest such sequences I've seen yet.

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The enigmatic mounds of Acidalia Planitia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/04 04:18 CDT

Acidalia Planitia is a large basin in Mars' northern lowlands, a dark splotch visible even from Earth telescopes.

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Open House at our new headquarters with the rising Executive Director, Bill Nye

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/04 11:18 CDT

Tomorrow the Planetary Society is hosting an open house at our new headquarters, and that fact was front page news at our local newspaper, the Pasadena Star-News, this morning!

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