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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2010

Solstice? What solstice?

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2010

Thumbing her nose at this whole winter thing, Opportunity drove 20 meters yesterday, sol 2,240, on the winter solstice.

Update on Voyager 2 status

Emily Lakdawalla • May 13, 2010

Good old Voyager 2; she takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Happy solstice -- on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 13, 2010

It's the solstice on Mars today: summer in the north, winter in the south.

New maps of Enceladus and other moons

Emily Lakdawalla • May 13, 2010

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.

Carnival of space 3D special

Emily Lakdawalla • May 13, 2010

Stuart Atkinson has prepared a "3D special" for this week's Carnival of Space over at his blog Cumbrian Sky, with lots of eye-popping Martian photos.

Moon Zoo is ready for you

Emily Lakdawalla • May 12, 2010

I'm delighted to point you to a citizen science project for wannabe space geologists like me: Moon Zoo.

A Martian Moment in Time, revisited

Emily Lakdawalla • May 12, 2010

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!

Radar glories in Titan rivers

Emily Lakdawalla • May 11, 2010

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.

Jupiter has lost a belt!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 10, 2010

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.

Akatsuki and IKAROS getting ready for launch, with your names aboard

Emily Lakdawalla • May 07, 2010

I've been so focused on the dramatic return of "Mr. Hayabusa" that I've neglected to write much about two up-and-coming Japanese missions: Akatsuki and IKAROS.

Some trouble on Voyager 2

Emily Lakdawalla • May 06, 2010

Engineers have shifted NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft into a mode that transmits only spacecraft health and status data while they diagnose an unexpected change in the pattern of returning data.

A moment in time

Emily Lakdawalla • May 06, 2010

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.

13 things that saved Apollo 13

Emily Lakdawalla • May 06, 2010

Universe Today has recently completed a fantastic, thought-provoking series on the near-disaster of the Apollo 13 mission, which unfolded forty years ago last month.

Morphology and mineralogy on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 05, 2010

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.

Saturn's hexagon recreated in the laboratory

Emily Lakdawalla • May 04, 2010

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.

Space carnival, rover update, Planetary Radio Live!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 03, 2010

Just a linky post today, as I am nanny-less.

Snapshots from the move, part 1

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2010

Here are a few photos taken on Friday, April 30, 2010, The Planetary Society's very last day in our old headquarters at 65 North Catalina Avenue in Pasadena.

The Planetary Society is moving on up

Emily Lakdawalla • April 30, 2010

After 25 years in our big brown house at 65 North Catalina Avenue in Pasadena, The Planetary Society is moving on Monday to new headquarters at 85 South Grand Avenue, still in Pasadena.

What's up in the solar system in May 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • April 30, 2010

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.

Naming X: A contest for kids to name small bodies

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2010

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.

Arecibo saves us from another potentially hazardous asteroid

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2010

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.

How radio telescopes get "images" of asteroids

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2010

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.

Spirit: Schrödinger's Rover

Emily Lakdawalla • April 28, 2010

Either Spirit is the longest-lived landed Mars mission ever, or she is not. We won't know for certain unless we manage to observe a radio signal from her.

New names for Rhea

Emily Lakdawalla • April 27, 2010

I learned today from Jason Perry that 42 new crater names have been approved by the International Astronomical Union for Rhea, the second largest of Saturn's moons.

APOLLO program pinpoints location of Lunokhod 1 retroreflector

Emily Lakdawalla • April 26, 2010

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.

3D Anaglyph: Weird channels of Olympica Fossae

Emily Lakdawalla • April 26, 2010

Got some 3D glasses handy? Check out this awesome view of a very strange feature on Mars, courtesy of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Context Camera (CTX).

Hubble turns 20

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2010

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. It's hard to believe it's been going strong for so many years.

Anticipating the end of Hayabusa

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2010

A successful sample return for the Hayabusa mission will mean the fiery death of Mr. Hayabusa himself. The poignancy of this is not lost upon the people in Japan who are following the mission.

Titan and Dione: The same, but different

Emily Lakdawalla • April 22, 2010

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.

More detail on the Hayabusa return timeline

Emily Lakdawalla • April 22, 2010

JAXA has issued a notice with a little bit more detail on the timeline for Hayabusa's return to Earth.

Solar Dynamics Observatory unveils "first light" movies

Emily Lakdawalla • April 21, 2010

Solar Dynamics Observatory unveils "first light" movies

Hayabusa's coming home

Emily Lakdawalla • April 21, 2010

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.

Hey, I'm on APOD today!

Emily Lakdawalla • April 20, 2010

A big thanks to Bob Nemiroff, editor of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website, for picking my composition of a set of Cassini photos of Dione and Titan for today's offering.

Volcanism across the solar system: Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • April 20, 2010

Yesterday I asked for suggestions for topics to write about, and you readers seem to have volcanoes on your minds!

A calming Titan

Emily Lakdawalla • April 19, 2010

Usually I like Mondays, but today I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I look at pictures from Cassini.

Bill Nye on Planetary Radio, and Space Carnival #150

Emily Lakdawalla • April 19, 2010

This week on Planetary Radio, Mat Kaplan talks with Bill Nye, who was one of the 200 invited to hear President Obama's speech on space at Kennedy Space Center last week.

21 Lutetia, Rosetta's July target

Emily Lakdawalla • April 16, 2010

While I was waiting for President Obama's speech yesterday, I read over a paper by I. N. Belskaya et al titled "Puzzling asteroid 21 Lutetia: our knowledge prior to the Rosetta fly-by."

Some Pictures from President Obama's Florida Space Conference

Emily Lakdawalla • April 15, 2010

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.

Programming note: Florida space conference

Emily Lakdawalla • April 15, 2010

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.

What it looks like when a CME explodes toward us

Emily Lakdawalla • April 14, 2010

The animation I posted yesterday, of a huge coronal mass ejection exploding away from the Sun, caused several people to ask if it could do Earth any harm.

No signal from Phoenix

Emily Lakdawalla • April 14, 2010

After three listening campaigns taking place from January through April, Mars Odyssey has detected no signal from Phoenix.

Stellar explosion

Emily Lakdawalla • April 13, 2010

The Sun just spat out a huge coronal mass ejection, an event made visible by the watchful cameras on SOHO.

Dione and Titan

Emily Lakdawalla • April 12, 2010

It's axiomatic that as soon as I post about pretty Cassini pictures, another set of pretty photos will appear on the raw images website.

A feast of pretty pictures from Cassini

Emily Lakdawalla • April 12, 2010

Cassini has it almost too easy. Point at anything in the Saturn system and you're guaranteed of a shot that looks, at least, pretty.

Hayabusa update: a little east of Pollux

Emily Lakdawalla • April 12, 2010

The first of what will be five trajectory correction maneuvers (TCMs) is "successfully completed," according to an update posted to the JAXA website.

Venus Express evidence for recent hot-spot volcanism on Venus

Emily Lakdawalla • April 09, 2010

Venus? What? Somebody still studies that planet? Yes, and in fact there's an active spacecraft there: Venus Express, the poor little sister to Mars Express.

A busy day for Cassini: Dione plus bonus Enceladus and Janus

Emily Lakdawalla • April 08, 2010

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.

Pretty (strange) picture from HiRISE: Dust flow crater?

Emily Lakdawalla • April 08, 2010

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.

Carnival of Space #148

Emily Lakdawalla • April 07, 2010

Carnival of Space #148 is live over at Celestial Spider. Check it out!

Water on the Moon: Direct evidence from Chandrayaan-1's Moon Impact Probe

Emily Lakdawalla • April 07, 2010

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.

Planetary Radio LIVE!

Emily Lakdawalla • April 07, 2010

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!

Pretty picture: Rhea, rings, and two little moons

Emily Lakdawalla • April 06, 2010

Here's a lovely picture whose components came down from Cassini a few days ago.

Pretty picture: Fly through the aurora

Emily Lakdawalla • April 05, 2010

Space Station astronaut Soichi Noguchi is an awesome photographer. This image is going straight into the "Best of 2010" collection.

Strong geomagnetic storm today

Emily Lakdawalla • April 05, 2010

This morning I received a bulletin warning of a "strong" geomagnetic storm that began just over an hour ago.

Pretty picture: An unexplained chain of elliptical craters on the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • April 02, 2010

Here's the first cool pic I've managed to produce from the recently-released Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera data set.

My arduous journey to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images

Emily Lakdawalla • April 02, 2010

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.

HiWish fulfilled (or, be careful what you HiWish for)

Emily Lakdawalla • April 01, 2010

Yesterday the Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued a press release announcing the first eight image releases that resulted from HiWish suggestions.

Quaoar: A rock in the Kuiper Belt

Emily Lakdawalla • April 01, 2010

The paper I'm writing about today, "Quaoar: a Rock in the Kuiper Belt," is based upon seven sets of Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 observations of Quaoar and its recently-named moon, Weywot.

Sweet dreams, Spirit

Emily Lakdawalla • March 31, 2010

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.

What's up in the solar system in April 2010

Emily Lakdawalla • March 31, 2010

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.

Downloading the "First Voyage into the PDS" class

Emily Lakdawalla • March 30, 2010

Here's how to watch the class on how to access Voyager data through the Planetary Data System, which I conducted to a small audience this morning.

Mimas' cold region: another new mystery for Cassini to explore

Emily Lakdawalla • March 29, 2010

This new map of Saturn's moon Mimas -- representing data captured by the CIRS thermal infrared spectrometer during Cassini's February 13, 2010 flyby -- is just baffling.

Space Imaging 3: First Voyage into the PDS

Emily Lakdawalla • March 28, 2010

I've finally caught my breath enough to contemplate starting up my imaging classes again.

Opportunity's at the twin craters

Emily Lakdawalla • March 27, 2010

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.

Happy, happy day: We may see the right MastCam on MSL after all

Emily Lakdawalla • March 26, 2010

I heard some absolutely terrific news about the MSL mission yesterday.

Hayabusa update: Traverse to night-side approach successful

Emily Lakdawalla • March 26, 2010

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.

In which I dip my toes into an ocean of Hubble data

Emily Lakdawalla • March 25, 2010

I am just drowning in data right now, and I couldn't be happier.

Opportunity at Concepción from orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • March 24, 2010

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).

Carnival of Space #146

Emily Lakdawalla • March 24, 2010

Wander on over to Simostronomy for the 146th Carnival of Space!

What planet is THIS?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 23, 2010

Check out this watery world! It's clearly a computer simulation of something, but of what? Can you guess?

Hayabusa update: Last modifications to Earth return trajectory

Emily Lakdawalla • March 23, 2010

An update on Hayabusa posted to the JAXA website by project manager Junichiro Kawaguchi.

Where neon falls like rain

Emily Lakdawalla • March 22, 2010

As if Titan's methane rain weren't weird enough, Jupiter's now thought to have helium-neon rain.

A new view of Callisto

Emily Lakdawalla • March 22, 2010

Here's a lovely amateur-produced color image of Jupiter's moon Callisto, or, as its artist Daniel Macháček calls it, "Titan without weather."

LROC spots Russian "monument" to International Women's Day

Emily Lakdawalla • March 19, 2010

There was a piece of the Lunar-Reconnaissance-Orbiter-spots-the-Lunokhods story that I was intrigued by but just didn't have the time this week to investigate properly.

Akatsuki arrives at Tanegashima Space Center

Emily Lakdawalla • March 19, 2010

The Akatsuki spacecraft (also known as PLANET-C or Venus Climate Orbiter) arrived this evening, Japanese time, at the Tanegashima Space Center.

A trio of pretty Cassini pics

Emily Lakdawalla • March 19, 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.

Making a difference through the Shoemaker NEO Grants

Emily Lakdawalla • March 18, 2010

Amir Alexander has just posted an update on the activities of the most recent winners of the Shoemaker NEO Grants.

And now for Luna 17 and Lunokhod 1

Emily Lakdawalla • March 17, 2010

I am delighted to report that within a day of the first view of Luna 21 and Lunokhod 2 since the end of that mission in 1973, the sister mission, Luna 17 and Lunokhod 1, has also been found.

Propose for a Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grant

Emily Lakdawalla • March 17, 2010

Are you a serious amateur astronomer who enjoys the challenge of following up on the discoveries of faint near-Earth objects?

Lunokhod found on the Moon -- and on Earth, too

Emily Lakdawalla • March 17, 2010

Yesterday I posted a bit of a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera image showing the tracks of the Russian Lunokhod 2 rover. Today, I can post for you an image showing the rover's final resting place

Titan: Callisto with weather

Emily Lakdawalla • March 16, 2010

It's the second time I've posted with this provocative title. This time, it's in response to a new paper published last week in Science.

The far side of Phobos

Emily Lakdawalla • March 16, 2010

Now here is an unusual image of Phobos, Mars' moon.

Soviet landers Luna 20, 23, and 24, plus the tracks of Lunokhod 2

Emily Lakdawalla • March 15, 2010

Today is the bonanza day for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: the first formal release of orbiter data happened this morning, including 10 Terabytes (that is 10 million Megabytes!) of camera data.

Phobos from Mars Express

Emily Lakdawalla • March 15, 2010

ESA has released the first image from Mars Express' recent close flybys of Phobos!

LPSC: Wrapping up Tuesday: The Moon, Mars, Mercury, Vesta, and back to Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2010

Well, it's already mid-day on the Friday a week after the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference ended and I'm STILL not done writing up my notes.

Pretty pictures: Europa from Galileo and Voyager

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2010

For some reason both Jason Perry and Ted Stryk took it upon themselves to produce new, pretty versions of Jupiter's moon Europa this week, so I'm hereby featuring them!

Helene has two faces

Emily Lakdawalla • March 11, 2010

Yes, it's yet another post on Helene! I keep on finding new stuff to post. This time it is a really cool montage assembled by Ian Regan.

LPSC: Venus

Emily Lakdawalla • March 10, 2010

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.

Pointing at Helene

Emily Lakdawalla • March 10, 2010

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.

Unbelievably spectacular flight through Candor Chasma

Emily Lakdawalla • March 09, 2010

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.

Joint replacement operation takes Goldstone 70-meter dish offline until at least November

Emily Lakdawalla • March 09, 2010

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced yesterday that the venerable 70-meter dish at the Goldstone Deep Space Network station is being taken offline so that major surgery can be performed.

Phobos has gravity!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 09, 2010

Last week Mars Express had its closest-ever flyby of Mars' larger, inner moon Phobos.

LPSC: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter results

Emily Lakdawalla • March 08, 2010

A week later and I am finally getting to the mountains of notes I took on Moon-related talks I saw at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) held in Houston last week.

WISE's weekly featured image

Emily Lakdawalla • March 07, 2010

I'm pleased to point out that the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission (WISE) has started an "image of the week" feature on its website.

Cassini's Helene flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • March 05, 2010

I was much anticipating Cassini's encounter with Helene on Wednesday.

Pretty picture: Io, labeled

Emily Lakdawalla • March 05, 2010

Jason Perry just posted this lovely labeled image of Io over at his blog, the Gish Bar Times.

LPSC, Day 3: Opportunity, and what the heck is Marquette?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 05, 2010

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.

Back from LPSC

Emily Lakdawalla • March 04, 2010

Just a quick note to all that I've collected both children from the family I left them with and we've all now arrived home from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Pretty Picture: ISS in the X-band

Emily Lakdawalla • March 04, 2010

This is from the "Just Plain Cool" department: a picture of the International Space Station taken in microwave radar.

Gorilla seen in Nasa Snap from Mars? Umm....no.

Emily Lakdawalla • March 03, 2010

Yes, I'm totally not kidding, that is the headline in the Sun: "'Gorilla' seen in Nasa Snap from Mars."

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