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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2010

Some profiles of women in planetary science

Emily Lakdawalla • August 03, 2010

It seems like a good time to feature the profiles of women space scientists that have been gracing the pages of Susan Niebur's Women in Planetary Science Blog.

Goodies from the latest Cassini data release

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2010

I've spent a pleasurable hour or so browsing over the latest release of images from Cassini to the Planetary Data System.

JPL begins actively hailing Spirit -- but is trying to manage your expectations (an editorial)

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2010

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?

Update on the NASA Authorization Bill

Louis D. Friedman • July 30, 2010

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.

What's up in the solar system for August 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • July 29, 2010

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!")

New crater found in LROC image from the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • July 27, 2010

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.

New Horizons images Jupiter again

Emily Lakdawalla • July 27, 2010

Three years after New Horizons flew past Jupiter on its way to Pluto, the spacecraft has imaged the giant planet again.

Voyager at Saturn, one year later

Emily Lakdawalla • July 27, 2010

Here are two newly processed portraits of Saturn, showing the planet just after its equinox.

A little chuckle for your Monday morning

Emily Lakdawalla • July 26, 2010

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.

Curiosity rolls!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2010

Enjoy my extremely low-tech animation of Curiosity's first "steps"! Six wheels rolling on Earth -- let's go for six wheels rolling on Mars!

A spectacular new global map of Mars, which YOU can make even better

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2010

I am such a nerd. This new map of Mars just brought tears to my eyes. Honestly.

Live camera on Curiosity in JPL clean room all day today

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2010

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.

Watching the birth and death of moonlets in Saturn's F ring

Emily Lakdawalla • July 22, 2010

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.

Color portrait of asteroid 21 Lutetia

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2010

Since it doesn't look like the Rosetta mission is going to be releasing any color versions of their Lutetia close-encounter images any time soon, I figured it was time to make one.

Volcanism across the solar system: Io

Emily Lakdawalla • July 20, 2010

Three months ago, grandiosely, I announced that I was going to survey volcanism across the solar system, and I began the journey on Earth. Then I failed to follow up.

Facebook conversion

Emily Lakdawalla • July 20, 2010

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.

The 163rd Carnival of Space is here at The Planetary Society Blog

Emily Lakdawalla • July 19, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up to the greatest show off of Earth!

A bull's eye on the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • July 16, 2010

Orientale is the youngest large impact basin on the Moon, which means that very little of it has been obliterated by later impacts.

How does Lutetia compare to the other asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft?

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2010

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.

Carnival of Space #162

Emily Lakdawalla • July 13, 2010

The 162nd Carnival of Space is live over at Skymania, so go check it out!

Cassini eyes Janus

Emily Lakdawalla • July 13, 2010

Four times a year, the Cassini mission releases three months' worth of data gathered from Saturn and its moons to NASA's Planetary Data System.

3D Anaglyph: Troughs or vents in Cerberus Fossae?

Emily Lakdawalla • July 12, 2010

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.

Rosetta's Lutetia pictures

Emily Lakdawalla • July 11, 2010

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.

Lutetia -- and Saturn!!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 10, 2010

A quick post of just one of the gorgeous images from Rosetta's flyby of Lutetia today; for more, see the Rosetta Blog. But this one was just too pretty to wait for.

Rosetta Lutetia flyby successful; approach images posted; high-res images yet to come

Emily Lakdawalla • July 10, 2010

All appears to be going very smoothly on Rosetta through, and after, its flyby today of asteroid (21) Lutetia.

Where to watch the Rosetta flyby of Lutetia

Emily Lakdawalla • July 10, 2010

A quick post to gather information on where to watch the events of today's flyby of asteroid (21) Lutetia by Rosetta.

Rosetta's Lutetia navigation campaign complete

Emily Lakdawalla • July 09, 2010

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.

Where my stories come from

Emily Lakdawalla • July 08, 2010

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.

A brush painting for Hayabusa

Emily Lakdawalla • July 07, 2010

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.

Three days to Lutetia for Rosetta!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 07, 2010

On July 10, 2010, at 15:44:56 UTC, the Rosetta spacecraft will fly within 3,162 kilometers of the largest asteroid yet visited by a spacecraft.

Sharpest-ever images of Daphnis

Emily Lakdawalla • July 06, 2010

As promised last week, Cassini has delivered its best photos yet of the tiny moon Daphnis, the ringmoon that is responsible for carving out the skinny Keeler gap at the outer edge of Saturn's A ring.

A look inside the Hayabusa sample capsule

Emily Lakdawalla • July 06, 2010

A very brief item posted on the Hayabusa website included two pictures of the interior of its sample return capsule, one of which shows a particle.

What's up in the solar system in July 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • July 01, 2010

June 2010 was certainly busy with Hayabusa and IKAROS action, so I really needed a vacation.

The solar system, in jewelry form

Emily Lakdawalla • July 01, 2010

A couple of months ago, someone on Twitter sent me a link to an article about Laura Cesari's bead jewelry inspired by the solar system. I thought it was awfully cool.

Saturn's hexagon is not unique

Emily Lakdawalla • June 29, 2010

It turns out that Saturn's not the only place that displays geometrical shapes in its atmosphere. Earth does too.

Elephant Skin on the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • June 28, 2010

There's a name for that funny hummocky texture to the lunar landscape: "elephant skin."

One month, one journal, so many missed space stories!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 24, 2010

Or: Emily reads you the table of contents of Icarus.

Sunrise on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • June 23, 2010

Here is a photo crafted from data that are nearly as old as I am, showing a beautiful sunrise on Mars.

Likely candidate for an un-collapsed lava tube

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2010

In February, the Chandrayaan-1 science team had a meeting in Ahmedabad, India, to share their results with each other.

Going on vacation

Emily Lakdawalla • June 18, 2010

Tomorrow the family heads away from home for three weeks, two weeks of which I plan not to work at all.

Two moons making waves in the rings

Emily Lakdawalla • June 18, 2010

Just a pretty picture post, a dramatic Cassini shot on the outer edge of the A ring captured earlier this month.

Lutetia in Rosetta's sights

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2010

It's unimpressive now, but in a few weeks the pinpoint of light at the center of this photo of a starry sky will loom very large to Rosetta's cameras.

Jupiter's faded belt: It's happened before, and it'll happen again

Emily Lakdawalla • June 16, 2010

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?

IKAROS' deployable camera captures perfect sail photos and animation!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 15, 2010

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.

Is this SMART-1's impact site?

Emily Lakdawalla • June 15, 2010

Speaking of spacecraft crashing...

Amigurumi: How I channeled my adrenaline while watching Hayabusa's return

Emily Lakdawalla • June 14, 2010

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.

Hayabusa update: First step for sample capsule return to Japan

Emily Lakdawalla • June 14, 2010

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.

Hayabusa update: Capsule retrieved, heat shield found

Emily Lakdawalla • June 14, 2010

The major news on the Hayabusa mission this morning is that JAXA has retrieved the sample capsule!

Hayabusa sample capsule photographed on the ground in Australia

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2010

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...

Hayabusa's return: a review

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2010

Hayabusa's return: round up some of the amazing photos, movies, and artworks that were posted and shared and Tweeted and re-Tweeted over the previous dozen hours or so.

Welcome home, Hayabusa!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2010

At 13:51 UTC, the Hayabusa spacecraft -- having traveled to an asteroid and back, surviving countless challenges-- broke up into a fiery meteor over the midnight, midwinter Australian sky.

Preparing for Hayabusa's return

Emily Lakdawalla • June 11, 2010

Only about 40 hours remain for the Hayabusa mission. Its dramatic entry will take place at 14:00 UTC on Sunday, June 13.

Titan's rivers are square

Emily Lakdawalla • June 11, 2010

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.

IKAROS: Successful sail deployment and solar power generation! Hooray!!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 10, 2010

JAXA finally issued the formal announcement: they successfully expanded IKAROS' square sail!

Big hunks of carbonate rock on Mars at last

Emily Lakdawalla • June 10, 2010

Carbonate rocks should be all over Mars. But it's been hard to find carbonates—surprisingly so.

Hayabusa: Waiting

Emily Lakdawalla • June 10, 2010

We're in the final days of the Hayabusa mission, but until Sunday I think we're in a state of "no news is good news."

U.S. Citizens: Please write your elected representatives about restarting plutonium-238 production!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 09, 2010

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.

Hayabusa's final approach on target; Japan's ready to receive samples

Emily Lakdawalla • June 09, 2010

Hayabusa's final maneuver, a three-hour "firing" of its ion thrusters to fine-tune the spacecraft's trajectory toward Australia, was successful.

Progress -- with pictures! -- on IKAROS' sail deployment

Emily Lakdawalla • June 09, 2010

Several pictures from the sail deployment monitoring cameras showed up on the IKAROS blog overnight.

A brief history of Hayabusa

Emily Lakdawalla • June 08, 2010

For those of you who found my Hayabusa mission recap too long, here's a graphical version of the history of the Hayabusa mission.

Hayabusa: "I did my best!"

Emily Lakdawalla • June 08, 2010

While he was in Japan to observe IKAROS' sail deployment, Lou Friedman couldn't help but notice the country's excitement over the impending return of Hayabusa.

Apply for a Shoemaker NEO Grant! Deadline extended to June 24

Emily Lakdawalla • June 08, 2010

Amateur astronomers, get your proposals in for this year's round of Shoemaker NEO Grants!

IKAROS team proceeds with final stage of sail deployment!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 08, 2010

Just a brief update on IKAROS: According to their blog, JAXA has decided to proceed with the final stage of IKAROS' sail deployment.

Bill Nye Signs on as Planetary Society's New Executive Director

Emily Lakdawalla • June 07, 2010

Bill Nye the Science Guy® will take the helm as the new Executive Director of the Planetary Society.

Six days left for Hayabusa: A recap of the mission

Emily Lakdawalla • June 07, 2010

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.

IKAROS update: Rotation rate inexplicably increasing

Emily Lakdawalla • June 07, 2010

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.

IKAROS sail deployment delayed until at least Tuesday

Emily Lakdawalla • June 06, 2010

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.

Planetary Society Hails Falcon 9 Test as Great Achievement

Emily Lakdawalla • June 04, 2010

The Planetary Society today issued this statement congratulating SpaceX on the test flight of Falcon 9.

Falcon 9's first launch successful!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 04, 2010

Just a brief note to congratulate Elon Musk and SpaceX on the successful launch of their Falcon 9 rocket on its first attempt today!

The June 3 Jupiter Impact: 22 hours later

Emily Lakdawalla • June 04, 2010

Time to take stock of what happened a day ago. The worldwide, round-the-clock nature of planetary science is both exhilarating and challenging!

Confirmation of the Jupiter impact from Christopher Go

Emily Lakdawalla • June 03, 2010

The impact flash on Jupiter observed earlier today by Anthony Wesley has been confirmed by Philippines-based amateur astronomer Christopher Go.

A NEW! Impact on Jupiter

Emily Lakdawalla • June 03, 2010

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.

Falcon 9 ready for first flight

Emily Lakdawalla • June 03, 2010

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is poised for its maiden flight tomorrow, Friday, June 4, between 11:00 and 15:00 Eastern time.

Lou Friedman is "our man in Japan" to watch IKAROS sail deployment

Emily Lakdawalla • June 03, 2010

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.

Phoenix is dead...long live Phoenix!

Emily Lakdawalla and Bruce Betts • June 02, 2010

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.

An Astronaut's-Eye View of Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • June 02, 2010

An Astronaut's-Eye View of Mars

What's up in the solar system in June 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • June 01, 2010

The greatest drama in June 2010 will come from two Japanese missions.

Photo proof of good progress on IKAROS sail deployment

Emily Lakdawalla • May 31, 2010

We have photo proof that the multi-step process of the deployment of IKAROS' square solar sail is going according to plan!

Progress on WISE's asteroid survey

Emily Lakdawalla • May 28, 2010

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.

Is this the eastward turn we've all been waiting for?

Emily Lakdawalla • May 27, 2010

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.

Using Earth to Study the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • May 26, 2010

Exploring Earth analogues of space landscapes is a valuable activity that can help planetary scientists correctly interpret what their instruments are telling them.

Initial checkout of IKAROS complete

Emily Lakdawalla • May 25, 2010

JAXA has posted a short update on their solar sailcraft IKAROS.

The goal of Opportunity's trek

Emily Lakdawalla • May 24, 2010

Opportunity's kilometers-long march across the sands of Meridiani Planum is a great story, and the journey is fun to follow; but what could be worth such a long march?

Akatsuki captures goodbye shots of Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • May 22, 2010

Three of Akatsuki's six science instruments have now checked in as operating normally, producing lovely photos of the receding homeworld.

All's well on IKAROS and Shin-en

Emily Lakdawalla • May 21, 2010

Today JAXA posted a very brief mission status update on the IKAROS spacecraft, launched yesterday along with Akatsuki. Brief is good; all's well.

Official launch and landing dates announced for Curiosity

Emily Lakdawalla • May 21, 2010

Yesterday the Jet Propulsion Laboratory formally announced the launch dates chosen for Curiosity, the next generation Mars rover also known as Mars Science Laboratory.

Voyager 2's flipped bit fixed

Emily Lakdawalla • May 21, 2010

A happy ending to this story: JPL reported yesterday evening that the flipped bit in Voyager 2's flight data system software has been successfully toggled back to its correct value.

Akatsuki, IKAROS, UNITEC-1, and your names are on their way to Venus

Emily Lakdawalla • May 20, 2010

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.

Akatsuki and IKAROS to launch today

Emily Lakdawalla • May 20, 2010

This is mostly a repost from Monday: Just a programming note, a reminder that Japan plans to launch the Venus orbiter Akatsuki and the solar sail IKAROS today at 21:58:22 UTC.

Pretty picture: Messier 83

Emily Lakdawalla • May 19, 2010

What does a barred spiral galaxy look like? THIS is what a barred spiral galaxy looks like.

Opportunity: longest-lived landed Mars mission

Emily Lakdawalla • May 19, 2010

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.

The most amazing image of Enceladus Cassini has captured yet

Emily Lakdawalla • May 19, 2010

Every time I think Cassini has captured the coolest image of Enceladus ever, it does better.

Pictures hitting Earth from Cassini's close Enceladus flyby today

Emily Lakdawalla • May 18, 2010

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.

Dione and Telesto, close on camera but far apart in fact

Emily Lakdawalla • May 18, 2010

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.

Akatsuki and IKAROS new launch date set

Emily Lakdawalla • May 18, 2010

According to the Akatsuki Twitter feed, the next try for launch of Akatsuki and IKAROS will be Thursday, May 20, at 21:58:22 UTC.

Voyager 2 status update: Yep, it was a flipped bit

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2010

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.

Akatsuki and IKAROS launch scrubbed due to weather

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2010

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.

Akatsuki and IKAROS to launch today

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2010

Just a programming note, a reminder that Japan plans to launch the Venus orbiter Akatsuki and the solar sail IKAROS today at 21:45 UTC.

Sighting the homeworld

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2010

Coming closer every day, Mr. Hayabusa has sighted his final destination: his homeworld, Earth, and its attendant Moon.

Photos of your names on the IKAROS spacecraft

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2010

IKAROS, Japan's solar sail, is nearly ready for launch, piggybacked behind the Venus orbiter Akatsuki.

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