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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2013

Photo gallery: MAVEN being prepped for launch

Emily Lakdawalla • August 21, 2013

Watching MAVEN go through its final launch preparations via the photo gallery at the Kennedy Media Archive.

A special Phobos eclipse

Emily Lakdawalla • August 20, 2013

Those sneaky scientists on Curiosity managed to catch a Phobos transit of the Sun with one set of cameras, and to watch its shadow darkening the surface with another. COOL!

Movie of Phobos and Deimos from Curiosity: super cool and scientifically useful

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2013

Yesterday, the Curiosity mission released the video whose potential I got so excited about a couple of weeks ago: the view, from Curiosity, of Phobos transiting Deimos in the Martian sky. In this post, Mark Lemmon answers a bunch of my questions about why they photograph Phobos and Deimos from rovers.

Dwarf planet, wassup?

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2013

In which the fifth graders of Kipp Heartwood Academy argue the competing sides in the is-Pluto-a-planet debate through the medium of rap.

Book review: Europe to the Stars, by Govert Schilling and Lars Lindberg Christensen

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2013

The world's great telescopes capture stunning photographs of stars, nebulae, and other sky phenomena. In Europe to the Stars, authors Govert Schilling and Lars Lindberg Christensen share many such photos. But the real stars of this book are the great telescopes of the European Southern Observatory.

Pretty picture: spectacular Saturn and Titan

Emily Lakdawalla • August 15, 2013

A lovely view of the ringed planet and its hazy moon seen from nearly behind them just a few days ago.

SMAP Under Construction: Field trip to the Spacecraft Assembly Facility

Emily Lakdawalla • August 14, 2013

Yesterday I enjoyed my second-ever opportunity to suit up and enter the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On display were SMAP, an Earth orbiting radar mission, and ISS-RapidScat, which will perform a different radar experiment from the Space Station.

Want to learn how to process space images? Take my Cosmoquest Academy class!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 09, 2013

The Planetary Society and Cosmoquest have teamed up to offer a short course in space image processing, and I'll be teaching! The course comprises four one-hour sessions from October 14 to 23.

"Water on Mars" in Sky & Telescope

Emily Lakdawalla • August 08, 2013

A shameless plug for my article on "Water on Mars," the cover story in the September issue of Sky & Telescope.

Curiosity's first year on Mars: Where's the science?

Emily Lakdawalla • August 07, 2013

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Curiosity's landing on Mars, and there was much rejoicing. It's been fun to look back at that exciting day, and it's been an opportunity to reflect on what Curiosity has accomplished in her first year. What science do we have to show for it?

Curiosity is copying Cassini's tricks!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 03, 2013

Take a look at this amazing photo, captured by Curiosity from the surface of Mars on sol 351 (August 1, 2013). It is unmistakably Phobos.

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Is there an ocean, or not?

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2013

Does Pluto have an ocean under its ice? If it doesn't now, did it ever have one? How will we know?

Keeping up with Curiosity, almost a year after landing

Emily Lakdawalla • August 01, 2013

It seems like my attention wandered for just a moment, and all of a sudden Curiosity is really on the road. She's racked up drive after drive, methodically eating up the terrain between here and her goal: the ancient rocks at the foot of Mount Sharp.

Happy 32! Happy New Mars Year!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 31, 2013

They're too far apart to have a party, but today Curiosity and Opportunity could have rung in the New Mars Year. Today Mars reached a solar longitude of zero degrees and the Sun crossed Mars' equator, heralding the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere.

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: A problem of cartography

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2013

Last Thursday at the Pluto Science Conference there was a surprising and interesting talk by Amanda Zangari, who pointed out a serious problem with Pluto cartography.

The road to Mars: updates on NASA's MAVEN and India's Mars Orbiter Mission

Emily Lakdawalla • July 29, 2013

The 2013 launch window for Mars is fast approaching. November represents the next chance to send spacecraft to the Red Planet; the next window doesn't open until early 2016. So NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are working hard to prepare their respective Mars missions for launch.

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Small moons, dust, surfaces, interiors

Emily Lakdawalla • July 24, 2013

My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.

Is the study of astrophysics self-indulgent?

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

Is the study of astrophysics self-indulgent? I was caught aback by that assertion, made by a recent graduate in the latest issue of the Brown University alumni magazine.

Pluto on the Eve of New Horizons: Webcast tonight

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

I'm off for the airport to fly to the East Coast to participate in the scientific conference "The Pluto System on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons."

Pretty picture: Looking backward

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

Here it is: the view from Saturn of our Earthly home, one and a half billion kilometers away. We see Earth and the Moon through a thin veil of faintly blue ice crystals, the outskirts of Saturn's E ring. Earth is just a bright dot -- a bit brighter than the other stars in the image, but no brighter than any planet (like Saturn!) in our own sky.

Earth and Moon from MESSENGER

Emily Lakdawalla • July 22, 2013

A new picture of the Earth-Moon system from MESSENGER, taken the same day we were told to "Wave at Saturn." Updated with a neat photo taken from much closer to Earth from a similar perspective.

Pretty picture: An Atlas launch and a very surprised bird

Emily Lakdawalla • July 19, 2013

If you take hundreds of photos of every single spacecraft launch you can get to, you will eventually get lucky shots like this one. It was taken by Ben Cooper at today's launch of the U.S. Navy satellite MUOS-2 and features a very surprised turkey vulture in a striking pose in front of the American flag.

Planetary Geomorphology Image of the Month: Water tracks on Earth and Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2013

The International Association of Geomorphologists' "planetary geomorphology image of the month," contributed by Joe Levy, features water tracks on Earth and compares them to recurring slope lineae on Mars.

A new HiRISE view of Opportunity (sol 3361)

Emily Lakdawalla • July 17, 2013

The HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has snapped a lovely color photo of the rim of Endeavour crater, catching Opportunity midway between Nobby's Head and Solander Point.

New names for Pluto's little moons Kerberos and Styx; and a new moon for Neptune

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2013

Pluto's moons, formerly known as "P4" and "P5," are now named Kerberos and Styx; I thought I'd help place them into context with a little help from Cassini. Also, Neptune now has a 14th known moon.

A rare clear day in Alaska

Emily Lakdawalla • July 12, 2013

NASA recently shared a gloriously detailed image of an unusual clear day in Alaska as seen from the Terra satellite.

Scale comparisons of the solar system's major moons

Emily Lakdawalla • July 10, 2013

A few presentation slides with pretty pictures, sized to scale, of the large moons of the solar system.

Stationkeeping in Mars orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • June 27, 2013

It had never occurred to me to think about geostationary satellites in Mars orbit before reading a new paper by Juan Silva and Pilar Romero. The paper shows that it takes a lot more work to maintain a stationary orbit at an arbitrary longitude at Mars than it does at Earth.

Programming Note: Off for 3 weeks, June 23 to July 14

Emily Lakdawalla • June 23, 2013

Hi folks, just a note to let you all know I am off for a 3-week vacation.

Is Opportunity near Lunokhod's distance record? Not as close as we used to think!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2013

A few weeks ago, a press release from the Opportunity mission celebrated Opportunity's surpassing of the previous NASA off-world driving record. That record was set in December 1972 by the Apollo 17 astronauts aboard their Lunar Roving Vehicle. They seem very close to Lunokhod 2's stated 37-kilometer driving record, but hold your horses -- we now know Lunokhod went longer than we thought.

Welcome to new staff

Emily Lakdawalla • June 20, 2013

Just a quick post to announce that The Planetary Society's staff is expanding! I am so excited to be able to say that.

Enormously detailed photo of Kasei Valles from Mars Express

Emily Lakdawalla • June 19, 2013

ESA celebrated the tenth anniversary of Mars Express' launch with a several-day science meeting during which they issued lots of press releases and numerous spectacular photos. My favorite of them all is this enormous image of Kasei Valles on Mars.

Woohoo! The LEGO Curiosity rover is going to be a kit!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 18, 2013

The awesome LEGO Curiosity rover designed by Stephen Pakbaz is going to go into production!

Favorite space images: "Many Worlds"

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2013

For this evening's Planetary Radio Live event, Mat Kaplan asked me to do a presentation of some favorite space images. I told him that picking favorite space images is like picking favorite children; it's not possible because they're all my favorite. To narrow things down, I decided to explore a theme: "Many Worlds."

Great News: New Horizons to "stay the course" at Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2013

This is extremely good news: after more than a year of analysis, the New Horizons mission and NASA have concluded and agreed that New Horizons' originally-planned trajectory past Pluto is likely safe from dust.

Ten years since Spirit's launch

Emily Lakdawalla • June 10, 2013

Ten years ago, Spirit launched on a Delta II rocket toward Mars, and I was there to see it.

Pretty pictures: Curiosity working late

Emily Lakdawalla • June 07, 2013

Just some cool photos of Curiosity lighting up the Cumberland drill hole after sunset for a little nighttime science work.

Launch is coming! LADEE arrives at Wallops

Emily Lakdawalla • June 06, 2013

It's a big day for any space mission: the shipping of the spacecraft from its assembly facility to its launch facility. That happened for the next lunar mission, LADEE, on June 4, 2013.

POSTPONED: Planetary Society Hangout, Planetary Resources' Chris Lewicki

Emily Lakdawalla • June 05, 2013

The Hangout has been postponed because of technical difficulties. Stay tuned for rescheduling information.

Curiosity update, sol 295: "Hitting the road" to Mount Sharp

Emily Lakdawalla • June 05, 2013

There was a Curiosity telephone conference this morning to make an exciting announcement: they're (almost) done at Glenelg and are preparing for the drive south to Mount Sharp. Allow me an editorial comment: finally!

Planetary Resources' Crowdfunded Space Telescope

Emily Lakdawalla • May 31, 2013

A fan-funded space telescope, usable by the public? It's an awesome idea, and it appears that a wide swath of the public agrees. Planetary Resources, headed by president and chief engineer Chris Lewicki, announced a Kickstarter project yesterday, with the goal of raising $1 million toward one of their ARKYD space telescopes.

Say "hi!" to asteroid -- actually, asteroids -- (285263) 1998 QE2

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2013

A large asteroid is passing reasonably close to Earth in a few hours, and astronomers at the great radio telescopes at Goldstone and Arecibo are zapping it. The latest discovery: QE2, like many asteroids, is a binary.

Finding faces and animals on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2013

This week's "lizard" or "rat" on Mars is just the latest of a never-ending stream of so-called discoveries of animate and inanimate objects in images returned from the Red Planet. I challenge you readers to find more such objects in one Curiosity panorama.

Lesser-known views of Uranus and Neptune

Emily Lakdawalla • May 28, 2013

Despite the fact that Voyager 2 returned relatively few high-resolution images from either Uranus or Neptune, there are many more photos in the archives than regularly make it to public view.

Friday fun: Every moon in the solar system in an homage to Tom Lehrer

Emily Lakdawalla • May 24, 2013

A girl named Hope Johnson performing an homage to Tom Lehrer's "The Elements" in song and ukelele, except instead of the elements, she's singing the names of all the named moons in the solar system. Check it out!

Statement from the AAS on Proposed Elimination of NASA Science Education & Public Outreach Programs

Emily Lakdawalla • May 23, 2013

The American Astronomical Society has issued a strongly worded statement against NASA's proposed elimination of its education and public outreach programs, and I agree with it.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission update: six months from launch

Emily Lakdawalla • May 21, 2013

A couple of articles on India's Mars Orbiter Mission were published on the news website The Week yesterday, and they're much more in-depth and insightful than the norm.

Opportunity and Curiosity updates: Rolling and drilling and a little wear on the wheels

Emily Lakdawalla • May 20, 2013

For most of April, while Mars scuttled behind the Sun as seen from Earth, both Mars rovers were pretty inactive. Now that conjunction has ended, both are doing what rovers should be doing: roving and exploring. As of sol 3312 Opportunity had moved more than 300 meters southward toward Solander Point, while on her sol 279 Curiosity drilled at a second site, Cumberland.

Speaking engagements next week: Spacefest V and Society for Astronomical Sciences symposium

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2013

Next week I'm traveling to speak at two events. Registration is still open for both, so I hope some of you can come. I also have some commentary on women being invited to speak at public events.

A serendipitous observation of tiny rocks in Jupiter's orbit by Galileo

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2013

A look at an older paper describing Galileo's possible sighting of individual ring particles orbiting Jupiter as companions to its inner moon Amalthea.

Brief update with good news on Kiera Wilmot

Emily Lakdawalla • May 16, 2013

Two weeks ago I wrote about Kiera Wilmot, a teen girl who was expelled from her school and charged with two felonies for unsupervised messing around with a chemical reaction on school grounds. Yesterday the Orlando Sentinel reported that no charges are being filed against her, which removes the greatest threat to her future.

Mimas and Pandora dance

Emily Lakdawalla • May 15, 2013

I've been out of town for a couple of days and am overwhelmed with work and an overflowing email box. So what do I do about that? I ignore what I'm supposed to be doing and play with Cassini raw image data, of course. Here is a "mutual event" of Mimas (the bigger moon) and Pandora (the outer shepherd of the F ring).

Chang'e 3 undergoing thermal vacuum testing

Emily Lakdawalla • May 09, 2013

China's lunar lander and rover are undergoing some of their last major tests and so are nearly ready for launch.

DSS 35: Watch the construction of the next big dish!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 08, 2013

You can watch via webcam as the next Deep Space Network radio antenna -- DSS 35, in Tidbinbilla, Australia -- gets its dish.

Thoughts on Kiera Wilmot: Mentor curiosity to create future scientists

Emily Lakdawalla • May 03, 2013

Please bear with me -- this blog entry has nothing to do with planets but a lot to do with society. For the last two days, my Twitter feed has been roiling with outrage about the story of Kiera Wilmot.

New Deep Impact Hartley 2 data set

Emily Lakdawalla • May 03, 2013

Just messing around with a recently released processed version of the Deep Impact Hartley 2 data set.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout (Special Time): MESSENGER at Mercury with Larry Nittler, Fri May 3 5pm PDT / midnight UTC

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2013

Note the special time! In this week's Planetary Society hangout at 5pm PDT / midnight UTC, I'll talk with MESSENGER deputy principal investigator Larry Nittler about what MESSENGER has accomplished in its prime and extended missions at Mercury, and what it stands to do if awarded a mission extension.

Pluto's seasons and what New Horizons may find when it passes by

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2013

New Horizons might see a Pluto with a northern polar cap, a southern polar cap, or both caps, according to work by Leslie Young.

Planetary Society Hangout: Naming Bennu, with Mike Puzio and Dante Lauretta

Emily Lakdawalla • May 01, 2013

In this week's Hangout, Emily Lakdawalla hosted Mike Puzio and Dante Lauretta in a discussion about the naming of OSIRIS-REx' asteroid target.

We have a winner! The OSIRIS-REx asteroid's name is: Bennu!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 01, 2013

We received more than 8000 entries from all over the world in the Name That Asteroid contest, and we can finally announce the winner. The asteroid formerly known as 1999 RQ36 is now formally named (101955) Bennu, for a heron associated with the Egyptian god Osiris.

Supersonic flight for SpaceShipTwo

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2013

Virgin Galactic achieved a major milestone today with the first supersonic flight for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. The rocket fired for a total of 16 seconds.

Curiosity on Mars - Design, Planning, and the First Mars Year of Operations

Emily Lakdawalla • April 26, 2013

Last month, I formally entered a new phase of my career: I signed my first book contract. I'll be writing a book about the Curiosity mission through its prime mission, for Springer-Praxis.

Awesome interactive solar system exploration history infographic

Emily Lakdawalla • April 25, 2013

Check out this absolutely wonderful infographic, produced by Olaf Frohn, that summarizes the entire history of solar system exploration.

One of my favorite image processing tricks: colorizing images

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2013

An easy image processing trick -- using lower-resolution color data to colorize a black-and-white photo -- is relied upon by many space missions to keep data volumes low. Here's how to do it.

Mars One astronaut selection announcement

Emily Lakdawalla • April 21, 2013

Today I am on my way to New York City, where I will be serving as the moderator for Mars One's first press briefing.

A walk among the mesas of Deuteronilus Mensae

Emily Lakdawalla • April 19, 2013

Enjoy some pretty pictures of some bizarre terrain on Mars: the mesas of Deuteronilus Mensae.

Tides of light and ice: Water and rock made from snowmelt on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • April 17, 2013

A recently published paper proposes that much of the sedimentary rock on Mars formed during rare, brief periods of very slight wetness under melting snow.

Help Wanted: Web Editor Intern

Emily Lakdawalla • April 16, 2013

The Planetary Society is looking for a bright, motivated person with superb attentiveness to detail who wants hands-on web editing experience.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: The Ice Giants, with Heidi Hammel

Emily Lakdawalla • April 11, 2013

My guest this was Planetary Society Board vice president Heidi Hammel. We discussed two planets near and dear to our hearts, Neptune and Uranus. What's new on these icy worlds since Voyager 2 passed by, and what are the prospects for their future exploration?

Blast from the Past: Spirit's tracks at the "End of the Rainbow"

Emily Lakdawalla • April 09, 2013

Doug Ellison shared this lovely panorama via Twitter over the weekend. It's from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, taken back in 2004. The drunken path in the foreground is a visual record of just how exciting it was for Spirit to have finally made it to the Columbia Hills, and to rocks that were not fragments of basalt.

Pretty pictures: Gliding flight for SpaceShipTwo

Emily Lakdawalla • April 05, 2013

Some beautiful photos of a recent gliding flight test of SpaceShipTwo.

Better conference talks

Emily Lakdawalla • April 04, 2013

I've been to a lot of conferences and seen a lot of talks and it's amazing to me how a bad presentation can get in the way of really exciting science. Here are my recommendations for how to approach a talk, and tips and tricks to make your talk better.

Robot Shaming

Emily Lakdawalla • April 03, 2013

Some silly fun to brighten your Wednesday.

Book Review: Cosmochemistry, by Harry McSween and Gary Huss

Emily Lakdawalla • April 02, 2013

This very accessible textbook begins at the beginning, explaining how all the things in the solar system were made from star stuff.

ISRO's Mars mission now undergoing assembly and testing; NASA, ISRO agree to future space science cooperation

Emily Lakdawalla • April 01, 2013

India's Mars Orbiter Mission has been much in the news in Asian media over the last week as a result of the release of ISRO's Annual Report 2012-2013. Also, ISRO and NASA issued a joint statement from Washington a week ago endorsing interagency cooperation in the space sciences

Curiosity update, sol 227: Some sharpshooting and a dusty deck

Emily Lakdawalla • March 29, 2013

Curiosity is back to science operations, though the activities are limited in scope by the fact that conjunction is fast approaching. Here's a couple of neat images from sol 227.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Reports from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Emily Lakdawalla • March 28, 2013

On Thursday at noon PDT / 1900 UTC I'll report on some of my favorite findings from LPSC, and answer your questions about the latest planetary science.

LPSC 2013: watery Martian minerals

Emily Lakdawalla • March 28, 2013

Some interesting results from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference on clay minerals on Mars and what they might mean about ancient water.

An editorial on the LPSC 2013 oral sessions

Emily Lakdawalla • March 28, 2013

In which I complain just a little bit about talks at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

LPSC 2013: License to Chill (or, the solar system's icy moons)

Emily Lakdawalla • March 27, 2013

Reports from the March 19 session at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference covering eight icy moons in the outer solar system: Ganymede, Europa, Dione, Rhea, Mimas, Tethys, Enceladus, and Miranda.

LPSC 2013: The Smaller They Are, The Better They Shake

Emily Lakdawalla • March 25, 2013

Really cool movies from Jim Richardson propose to explain how the same physics of impact cratering can produce such differently-appearing surfaces as those of the Moon, large asteroids like Eros, and teeny ones like Itokawa.

LPSC 2013: Do we have a meteorite from Mercury?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 21, 2013

Before yesterday, my answer to this question would be "no." Now my answer is "probably." But it's not clear if we know which of the meteorites in our collections is from the innermost planet.

LPSC 2013: Sedimentary stratigraphy with Curiosity and Opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • March 20, 2013

A mind-boggling quantity of information is being presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. In my first report from the meeting, I try to make sense of the Curiosity and Opportunity sessions.

Reports from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Emily Lakdawalla • March 15, 2013

I depart tomorrow for Houston and the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC). Here's a look at how to follow the meeting on social media, and where to find me if you're also attending.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Being WISE about asteroids, comets, and brown dwarfs with Amy Mainzer

Emily Lakdawalla • March 14, 2013

This week I'll be talking with NEOWISE principal investigator Amy Mainzer about moving objects that the WISE mission has spotted both inside and outside our solar system.

Yes, it was once a Martian lake: Curiosity has been sent to the right place

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2013

The news from the Curiosity mission today is this: Curiosity has found, at the site called John Klein, a rock that contains evidence for a past environment that would have been suitable for Earth-like microorganisms.

Checking in on Jupiter

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2013

We don't have any spacecraft at Jupiter right now, which is a pity. Until we do, we have to rely upon Earth-based astronomers to monitor the changing face of the largest planet.

A post about International Women's Day

Emily Lakdawalla • March 08, 2013

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day, about which I have conflicting feelings.

Meteor showers on Titan: an example of why Twitter is awesome for scientists and the public

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2013

I use a variety of social networking tools to perform my job, but there's one that's more important and valuable to me than all the rest combined: Twitter. Yesterday afternoon there was a discussion on Twitter that exemplifies its value and fun: are there visible meteors on Titan?

Will comet Siding Spring make a meteor shower on Mars?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 05, 2013

JPL's Solar System Dynamics group shows that there is still a possibility that C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) could hit Mars. But the uncertainty in its position at that time is large -- the closest approach could happen an hour earlier, or an hour later -- so we're a long way from knowing yet whether it will or (more likely) won't impact.

Browse Curiosity's data in the Analyst's notebook

Emily Lakdawalla • March 05, 2013

Last week the Curiosity mission made its first data delivery to the Planetary Data System. The bad news: none of the science camera image data is there yet. The good news: there are lots and lots of other goodies to explore.

Very brief Curiosity update, sol 205: Memory anomaly and a swap to the "B-side"

Emily Lakdawalla • March 04, 2013

Over the last few days the mission has been working its way through its first major (not life-threatening, just really inconvenient) anomaly: a memory problem in its main computer.

Galileo's images of Gaspra

Emily Lakdawalla • March 01, 2013

Last week I trawled the archives to find all of Galileo's images of asteroid Ida; this week, I turned to Gaspra.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Studying Asteroids from Earth with Andy Rivkin

Emily Lakdawalla • February 28, 2013

Emily Lakdawalla's guest this week was Applied Physics Laboratory asteroid astronomer Andy Rivkin. We talked about the menagerie of rocks in the asteroid belt, how many of them travel in pairs and triples, how some of them are surprisingly wet, and how much you can learn about asteroids using Earth-based telescopes.

Comet to whiz past Mars in October 2014

Emily Lakdawalla • February 27, 2013

A recently discovered comet, C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), is going to be passing very close to Mars on October 19, 2014. Does it pose a risk to spacecraft?

Galileo got so many more images of Ida than I realized

Emily Lakdawalla • February 22, 2013

While writing up the cruise-phase issues of the Galileo Messenger a couple of weeks ago, I came across a fuzzy montage of images of Ida that I had not seen before. So I decided to spend some time digging into the Planetary Data System to see if there were more images to be found. I found lots and lots pictures that I'd never seen before!

Pretty picture: a moon transit

Emily Lakdawalla • February 21, 2013

A reader comment inspired me to dig up an oldie but a goodie: a sequence of photos of the Moon transiting Earth, seen from a very long way away,

Curiosity update, sol 193: drilled stuff is in the scoop, ready for analysis

Emily Lakdawalla • February 20, 2013

There was a press briefing today to announce that Curiosity has completed her last major first-time activity: powder drilled from inside a rock at John Klein successfully made its way into the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism in the turret. Sol 193, then, marks the day that Curiosity is finally ready to start the science mission.

Why don't we have any photos of asteroid 2012 DA14 if it came so close?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 19, 2013

A frequently-asked question last week was: if asteroid 2012 DA14 is coming so close to Earth, why hasn't anyone taken any pictures of it? Now that 2012 DA14 has whizzed past us, we do finally have some radar pictures of it, but they still may not satisfy everyone.

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