Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2010
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/30 04:29 CDT
Spirit hasn't talked to Earth since March 22 -- so what new information could they have received that would make them pronounce Spirit's possible death? Is there some new analysis of the last bit of telemetry? Some new model indicating Spirit's survival was less likely than previously thought?
Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2010/07/30 12:50 CDT
Yesterday, the Planetary Society issued a statement about the request that the U.S. House of Representatives suspend the rules when voting on the NASA Authorization bill, saying, in part, "The future of the space program is too important to rush through a controversial change in policy.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/29 04:22 CDT
It seems it'll be a relatively routine month for our solar system explorers (if one can ever consider the exploration of an entire solar system by billion-dollar artificially intelligent robots "routine!")
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/27 06:52 CDT
This news is no surprise, but I think it's the first such discovery I've heard of: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team has identified a new crater on the Moon, one that wasn't there when Apollo 15 flew over.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/26 11:07 CDT
During Friday's first roll for Curiosity, there was a lot of banter in the Ustream chat room about all the bunny-suited engineers waving at the cameras and mugging for portraits with the rover. One chat room member, "Mirek," said the engineer should -- well, you can see what he requested; just watch the video.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/23 03:41 CDT
I am such a nerd. This new map of Mars just brought tears to my eyes. Honestly.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/23 02:02 CDT
Tune in to Ustream right now to see Curiosity, the next Mars rover, on its wheels in the "High Bay" at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/22 09:09 CDT
The Saturn system is always in motion, always changing. Saturn itself is a gas giant, with swirling storms, and like the other gas giants it has a host of moons flying around, perturbing each other's motions. And then there's the rings.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/20 05:31 CDT
I both love and hate Facebook. It's enabled me to reconnect personally with lots of long-lost friends from high-school and college, not just virtually but also helping me meet up with people as I travel. But despite the proliferation of Facebook presences of space missions and NASA centers, I've found it next to useless professionally.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/19 01:38 CDT
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up to the greatest show off of Earth!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/15 04:33 CDT
Almost a week after Rosetta flew past Lutetia, the asteroid is now a distant pinprick of light to the spacecraft, and the science team is getting down to the business of analyzing their data.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/12 12:55 CDT
OK, it's time to look silly in your red-blue glasses again! When Tanya Harrison sent me those awesome 3D views of Olympica Fossae from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's CTX camera, she sent me two other sets of 3D landscapes on Mars.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/11 12:17 CDT
I saw these pictures for the first time just 10 minutes before boarding my flight back home, and forced myself to download everything I could find as quickly as possible without pausing to actually look at them.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/10 01:47 CDT
All appears to be going very smoothly on Rosetta through, and after, its flyby today of asteroid (21) Lutetia.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/09 01:53 CDT
Rosetta's most important job over the last few months has been to observe how the position of asteroid (21) Lutetia shifts against the background of fixed (fixed, that is, as far as Rosetta can see) stars.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/08 10:23 CDT
The stories I write about originate in space, of course, but as I was wrestling with what to write about in the couple of weeks before my vacation, it occurred to me that a lot of you might not know what tends to trigger space writers to choose what to write about.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/07 03:16 CDT
Upon James Aldridge's return from Japan, he posted several albums worth of amazing photos, including several of their calligraphy instructor, well-known artist Aiko Tanaka, creating a gestural brush painting to commemorate Hayabusa's return.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/24 10:53 CDT
Or: Emily reads you the table of contents of Icarus.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/16 05:07 CDT
When I wrote a post about Jupiter's missing South Equatorial Belt in May, I had three main questions: how long did it take for the belt to go away, has this happened before, and how can a planet as big as Jupiter change its appearance so quickly?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/15 08:50 CDT
We've already seen IKAROS' view of its deployed sails from cameras attached to the spacecraft, but, in a brilliant idea, the Japanese built IKAROS with two deployable cameras that could view the thing from a distance.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/14 06:16 CDT
Covering the events of Hayabusa's return involved a lot of watching and waiting. Rather than go blind staring at my computer and cause carpal tunnel syndrome by excessively clicking the refresh button, I decided to...go blind and develop carpal tunnel syndrome by doing some crocheting.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/14 04:39 CDT
Here are a few photos from a Flickr gallery from the Australian Science Media Centre documenting the Hayabusa sample capsule's first step in its journey from Australia to Sagamihara, Japan, where it will arrive on Friday.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/14 09:20 CDT
The major news on the Hayabusa mission this morning is that JAXA has retrieved the sample capsule!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/13 09:23 CDT
Oh my wonderful little flying saucer, you have been to an asteroid and back -- and you were burning like a star last night! And there you are, sitting quietly in the desert, just waiting to be retrieved...
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/11 01:07 CDT
There's a new "planetary gromorphology image of the month" posted at the International Association of Geomorphologists' Planetary Geomorphology Working Group page, and it's a cool post about the shapes of the river networks on Titan.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/10 10:46 CDT
JAXA finally issued the formal announcement: they successfully expanded IKAROS' square sail!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/09 04:34 CDT
I'm hereby posting a request that was sent earlier today to members of the Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society by its chair, Candy Hansen.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/09 12:34 CDT
Hayabusa's final maneuver, a three-hour "firing" of its ion thrusters to fine-tune the spacecraft's trajectory toward Australia, was successful.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/09 09:19 CDT
Several pictures from the sail deployment monitoring cameras showed up on the IKAROS blog overnight.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/08 02:00 CDT
Amateur astronomers, get your proposals in for this year's round of Shoemaker NEO Grants!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/08 11:32 CDT
Just a brief update on IKAROS: According to their blog, JAXA has decided to proceed with the final stage of IKAROS' sail deployment.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/07 05:32 CDT
Bill Nye the Science Guy® will take the helm as the new Executive Director of the Planetary Society.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/07 05:27 CDT
The Hayabusa spacecraft is about to die. On Sunday, June 13, at 14:00 UTC, Hayabusa will burn up in Earth's atmosphere, bringing its dramatic seven-year mission to an end.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/07 11:53 CDT
JAXA's end-of-Sunday update on IKAROS' status gives more details about an issue they are working on the spacecraft. The spacecraft itself is in perfect health, but its dynamics are different from what was expected.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/06 05:08 CDT
This is just a brief update to yesterday's post to add a few sentences that Lou wanted to hold until JAXA had had a chance to issue an official statement.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/04 02:37 CDT
The Planetary Society today issued this statement congratulating SpaceX on the test flight of Falcon 9.
The impact flash on Jupiter observed earlier today by Anthony Wesley has been confirmed by Philippines-based amateur astronomer Christopher Go.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/03 05:51 CDT
On the same day as a team of astronomers released new Hubble Space Telescope images of last year's Jupiter impact, the original discoverer of the 2009 impact scar, Anthony Wesley, reported on an amateur astronomy forum that he had observed a new impact on Jupiter.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/03 04:58 CDT
Planetary Society Executive Director Lou Friedman is now in Japan, joining the rest of the IKAROS team to watch the eagerly anticipated deployment of its solar sails.
The latest HiRISE images of the Phoenix polar lander, taken near Mars' northern summer solstice, show why we haven't heard from the spacecraft since it fell silent on November 2, 2008: it appears the solar panels have collapsed.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/31 04:00 CDT
We have photo proof that the multi-step process of the deployment of IKAROS' square solar sail is going according to plan!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/28 08:05 CDT
I wrote some time ago about the expectations for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)'s contributions to solar system science. A couple of days ago, JPL posted an image and movie documenting the progress to date.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/27 07:24 CDT
As I discussed on Monday, Opportunity is in the middle of a lengthy trek toward a crater named Endeavour and its tantalizing upraised smectite-bearing rim.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/21 05:34 CDT
Yesterday the Jet Propulsion Laboratory formally announced the launch dates chosen for Curiosity, the next generation Mars rover also known as Mars Science Laboratory.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/20 05:44 CDT
It was a picture-perfect launch for three Venus-bound spacecraft this morning: the Akatsuki Venus orbiter, the IKAROS solar sail, and a university-built minisat named UNITEC-1.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 10:26 CDT
Today is sol 2,246 of Opportunity's mission to Mars; as I write, it's just before 7:00 local solar time. If this sol passes, as her previous 2,245 have done, with Opportunity still alive and speaking to Earth, she will have surpassed a record set on November 12, 1982: Opportunity will pass Viking Lander 1 as the longest-lived landed Mars mission.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 01:05 CDT
Every time I think Cassini has captured the coolest image of Enceladus ever, it does better.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/18 05:48 CDT
Cassini flew within 436 kilometers of Enceladus' surface today. Although it's Cassini's 11th targeted flyby of Enceladus, these close buzzes are never routine.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/18 12:28 CDT
This image, released today by Cassini's imaging team, is pretty cool; it shows one of Saturn's larger moons together with one of its smaller ones. I probably noticed the nice photo of Dione when it appeared on the Cassini raw images page two months ago, but I know I didn't notice the little speck below and to the left of the bigger moon. That speck is a small moon, Telesto.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/17 07:22 CDT
Voyager 2's engineers have confirmed that the problem with the spacecraft was indeed the result of a single flipped bit in its software, as they predicted.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/17 04:56 CDT
The countdown for the planned launch of Akatsuki and IKAROS got to about four minutes before they decided to cancel the attempt due to weather, and I can't blame them.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.