Every time Cassini gets reasonably close to one of the moons of Saturn, whether the close approach is a targeted one or just an opportunistic encounter, its planners usually take advantage of the proximity to take a bunch of photos.
A good start to my day today: The New York Times' Lens Blog featured the "Martian Moment in Time" photo that Opportunity took last week in a really nice writeup. I'm so grateful, and still a little surprised, that the folks on the Mars Exploration Rover mission took this idea and ran with it!
Wow, this is a cool paper. Here's the gist: the Cassini RADAR team has spotted some river channels on Titan that shine so brightly in radar images, there must be something special going on to explain that brightness.
Via Daniel Fischer's Tweet about a blog entry by Astro BobI learned of something which should be obvious to anyone who has trained even a rather small telescope on Jupiter over the past few weeks: one of its iconic stripes is just plain gone.
On Mars, at 15:00 local true solar time on May 2, a solitary rover gazed southward across her own dusty deck and snapped three photos, actually three sets of three photos, which were combined to make this view.
A recent entry by Bethany Ehlmann from the blog of the Planetary Geomorphology Working Group of the International Association of Geomorphologists demonstrates how you can combine the power of different types of data to tease out a rich story of the past history of one spot on Mars.
A lot of readers have expressed interest in the origin of Saturn's north polar hexagon. The hexagon is a long-lived pattern in the clouds surrounding Saturn's north pole, which has been observed since the Voyagers passed by in 1980 and 1981.
There's one new mission and two promoted ones in this month's roundup: I've added JAXA's Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter for the first time, and both Hayabusa and Rosetta have been promoted from the "quietly cruising" section.
A contest has just been announced that appears to create a pathway for schoolchildren to suggest names to the International Astronomical Union for minor planets -- all those small things in the solar system that don't orbit the eight big ones.
That's a bit of an overdramatic title, but it's true that the most efficient way for us to reduce the risk we face from asteroids that have a very small chance of hitting Earth in the future is to determine their orbits more precisely.
Every time I post a radio telescope image of a near-Earth asteroid, I get at least one reader question asking me to explain how radio telescopes take photos, so I'm hereby writing a post explaining the basics of how delay-Doppler imaging works.
With the recent Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imaging of the Lunokhod 1 rover, scientists on the APOLLO project were finally able to do something that scientists have been dreaming of for more than three decades: shoot the rover with a laser.
Here's a new lovely color composition of Titan and Dione captured by Cassini. This one was taken on April 20, 2010; a set of 15 raw images taken of the two moons just showed up on the Cassini raw images website.
It really looks like Hayabusa is going to make it home. Hayabusa's sample return capsule will be returning to Earth on June 13, 2010, landing in the Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia at about 14:00 UTC.
Bill Nye, Jim Bell, Scott Hubbard, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk, and Lou Friedman -- all members of The Planetary Society's Board of Directors -- attended President Obama's Space Conference at the Kennedy Space Center today.
As I write this I am watching President Obama walk down the steps from Air Force One to attend the Florida space conference and deliver a speech at 14:40 EDT (18:40 UTC) about the future of American space exploration.
The Cassini Saturn orbiter just completed its second very close flyby of Saturn's mid-sized iceball moon Dione, and the images from that encounter have been streaming onto the Cassini raw images website this morning.
Yesterday was the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE team's latest flood of archived images, 1,025 of them. I skipped forward to page 42 (what other number would I pick?) and started browsing from there.
I've reported before about the detection of water on the surface of the Moon by the Chandrayaan-1 orbiter and the Deep Impact and Cassini spacecraft, but what I'm about to tell you about is actually more exciting: the direct detection of water in the lunar atmosphere by the Chandrayaan-1 Moon Impact Probe.
Program note: If you will be in southern California on April 30, 2010, please join us at the public radio station KPCC's newly completed Mohn Broadcast Center at 7 pm for Planetary Radio's first-ever show recorded before a live studio audience!
It's been two weeks since Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission released a flood of data to the Planetary Data System, but I haven't posted any pictures dug out of the camera data yet. This post will explain why.
Spirit had been communicating on a once-per-week schedule in recent weeks. During the designated time for the rover to communicate with NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter passing overhead on March 30, Odyssey heard nothing from the rover.
This month, we can expect lots of cool images of icy moons from Cassini, which will have close encounters with Dione and Enceladus, and more distant encounters with nearly every other iceball flying around the Saturn system inside Titan's orbit.
Just a little update here to post a Navcam panorama from Opportunity showing that the rover successfully arrived yesterday at the doublet crater she's been aiming for since she left Concepcion a couple of weeks ago.
Hayabusa's mission team has successfully shifted the little spacecraft's approach trajectory from the day side to the night side of Earth, a critical maneuver for the survival of the sample return capsule.
I saw this image at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference so am happy they released it: a view of Opportunity sitting on the north rim of the little, fresh Concepción crater, taken on sol 2153 (February 13, 2010).
It's been a little while since I posted any Cassini pictures just because they were pretty, so here's a few recent ones, produced by amateurs from the images available on the Cassini raw images website.
Despite the fact that I began my career in science doing research on Magellan images of Venus, I've often avoided Venus sessions at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference because they've tended to be pointlessly contentious. But I decided to attend the one this year to see how things went.
I posted already some neat images from Cassini's flyby of Helene last week, and commented on how most of the images from that encounter missed Helene entirely or only caught the moon at one edge of the camera field of view. Here's an example of one of those images.
This is one of the things that came out during LPSC last week and all I could do at the time was Tweet it—so here it is in blog form: the most unbelievably spectacular 3D animation of a bit of Mars I've seen yet, produced by Adrian Lark.
I wrote earlier about some results from Spirit reported at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas; here are the rest of my notes on rover-related talks, from Opportunity's site on the opposite side of Mars.