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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2013

When will New Horizons have better views of Pluto than Hubble does?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 18, 2013

Last week, I posted an explainer on why Hubble's images of galaxies show so much more detail than its images of Pluto. Then I set you all a homework problem: when will New Horizons be able to see Pluto better than Hubble does? Here's the answer.

BREAKING: Meteor fall causes damage in Russia [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • February 15, 2013

A large meteor streaked through the skies above Russia on the morning of Feb 15th, causing a deafening sonic boom that shattered windows and injured hundreds.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout, Thu Feb 14 1200PT/2000UT: Courtney Dressing

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2013

Emily Lakdawalla and Courtney Dressing talked about just how common Earth-sized exoplanets may be in our neighborhood. Watch the replay here.

Why can Hubble get detailed views of distant galaxies but not of Pluto?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2013

How come Hubble's pictures of galaxies billions of light years away are so beautifully detailed, yet the pictures of Pluto, which is so much closer, are just little blobs? I get asked this question, or variations of it, a lot. Here's an explainer.

A forgotten image of Earth and the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • February 13, 2013

While researching another story, I came across an image I don't remember ever seeing before, of a moonrise from an unexpected source.

New Contest: Name the Moons of Pluto!

Emily Lakdawalla • February 11, 2013

The discoverers of Pluto's fourth and fifth moons are inviting the public to vote on (and write in candidates for) their formal names. Voting closes in two weeks.

Browsing Landsat data is a lot easier than I thought it was

Emily Lakdawalla • February 08, 2013

With the Landsat Data Continuity Mission scheduled to launch on Monday, there's been a lot of Tweeting about Landsat, and through one such Tweet I learned about a resource that I hadn't known existed before: the LandsatLook Viewer. This is a graphical interface to more than a decade worth of Landsat data, a tremendous resource for anyone interested in Earth's changing surface, natural or manmade.

Pretty picture: tessera terrain on Venus

Emily Lakdawalla • February 07, 2013

In which I dive into the Magellan radar data set and come up with some images of an unusual and possibly unique solar system terrain: tessera.

Venerable Deep Impact spacecraft has photographed comet ISON

Emily Lakdawalla • February 05, 2013

Deep Impact has made the first space-based observations of comet ISON.

Galileo Messengers: Cruise to Venus, Earth, Gaspra, Earth, Ida, and almost to Jupiter

Emily Lakdawalla • February 05, 2013

It's taken me a year to face the emotionally draining task of reading and writing about Galileo's cruise phase as chronicled in the mission's newsletters.

A new rover self-portrait and a new color image of Curiosity from orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2013

Curiosity is inching her way through her first use of the drill on a Martian rock. She paused in the proceedings to capture a second Martian "selfie."

We didn't start the science

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2013

Asteroid astronomer Andy Rivkin has posted to YouTube his own awesome version of "We Didn't Start the Fire" -- with planetary science lyrics.

Columbia, ten years on

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2013

Remembering Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon on the tenth anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Columbia.

Pretty picture: Neptune and Triton

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2013

On a lonely evening, what is one to do but to dip into archival space image data and surface with a gorgeous photo of a crescent Neptune and Triton?

One of my favorite space images of all time: Rosetta was here

Emily Lakdawalla • January 31, 2013

A conversation on Twitter today reminded me of this photo, which is one of my all-time favorite space images: the view from Rosetta during its Mars flyby.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout, Thu Jan 31 1200PT/2000UT: Sarah Noble on lunar science and working for NASA HQ

Emily Lakdawalla • January 31, 2013

We welcomed Sarah Noble to our weekly Google+ Hangout. Sarah is a lunar geologist and a civil servant working in the Research & Analysis program at NASA Headquarters, and has recently been named Program Scientist for the LADEE lunar mission.

Enceladus: A problem of contrast

Emily Lakdawalla • January 30, 2013

Time for my quarterly foray into the Cassini archival science data! The very first image I downloaded from the January 1, 2013 data release presented an interesting challenge to my image processing skill. I'll show you the pretty picture of Enceladus and then explain how I processed it.

Scientists: Register to be a Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Microblogger!

Emily Lakdawalla • January 30, 2013

Hey planetary scientists! Many of you know that the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) is a great meeting in a venue that is perfect except for one thing: Internet access is positively lousy. So I'm really excited that a solution that I advocated to conference organizers is being adopted.

Curiosity update, sol 171: Placing the drill

Emily Lakdawalla • January 29, 2013

They're getting closer and closer to drilling. Curiosity now seems to be positioned in the spot where they plan to be when they execute that long-awaited first drill.

"Sand" means something different to me than it does to you, probably

Emily Lakdawalla • January 24, 2013

I had one of those "A-ha" moments last week where I suddenly realized that I had run afoul of a common problem in science communication: when the words I'm using mean something different to me than they do to almost everyone I'm talking to. The confusing word of the week: "sand."

Hey look, I'm a cartoon!

Emily Lakdawalla • January 24, 2013

Zach Weiner's new collection of geekily awkwardly smart web comics will include a story I contributed!

Stars, and stars, and stars: pretty pictures from the European Southern Observatory

Emily Lakdawalla • January 21, 2013

My solar system chauvinism is well-established, but I am as much a sucker for beautiful astrophotos as the rest of you. Once in a while I get a media advisory from the European Southern Observatory about a new pretty picture posted on their website, and then I inevitably lose an hour following links to one stunner after another.

More Chang'E 2 Toutatis flyby images

Emily Lakdawalla • January 20, 2013

Last week at a meeting of NASA's Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), Han Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences gave a lengthy presentation on Chang'E 2. Her presentation included a new sequence of photos from the December 13 Toutatis flyby.

Pretty picture: new HiRISE view of Curiosity, sol 145

Emily Lakdawalla • January 16, 2013

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a new view of Curiosity on Mars on January 2 (sol 145). Curiosity was in the same location as the one from which it shot the sol 137 panorama I posted earlier. You can see the rover's tracks leading all the way back to the landing site!

Curiosity update, sol 157: Glenelg isn't just a test site anymore; it's a scientific "candy store"

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2013

The Curiosity mission held a press briefing this morning for the first time since the American Geophysical Union meeting, and it was jam-packed with science. The biggest piece of news is this: it was worth it, scientifically, to go to Glenelg first, before heading to the mountain.

Fly me to the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2013

Video views shot by two doomed spacecraft take us flying across the Moon.

The Chang'e 3 lunar lander and rover, expected to launch late this year

Emily Lakdawalla • January 09, 2013

All of the information I could track down on China's planned Chang'e 3 lunar lander and rover, including videos and a brand-new artist's concept of the rover rolling across the Moon.

Report from AAS: Exoplanets (and exo-asteroids, and exo-comets) everywhere

Emily Lakdawalla • January 08, 2013

This year's American Astronomical Society meeting featured tons and tons of news on exoplanets. They're everywhere! And not just planets, but also asteroids, comets, and more....

"Space Fans" Hangout Wednesday Jan 9 1500 PT / 2300 UT: me & Mike Brown on Planets, Pluto (not the same), Asteroids, Near Earth Objects, Life the Universe and Everything

Emily Lakdawalla • January 08, 2013

Join me, Mike "Plutokiller" Brown, Mario Livio, Jason Kalirai, and others in a Space Fan Hangout broadcast from the American Astronomical Society meeting happening this week in Long Beach, California.

Looking ahead to spacecraft activities in 2013

Emily Lakdawalla • January 04, 2013

2013 is going to be a busy year in space exploration. Two missions launch to the Moon (LADEE and Chang'E 3), and another two to Mars (MAVEN and India's mission). Curiosity should drive to the Mountain, and Opportunity to the next site on Endeavour's rim. Cassini will be seeing rings and Titan. Others should continue routine operations, except maybe MESSENGER, whose fate after March is not yet decided.

Updates on ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission: five instruments to be delivered in March

Emily Lakdawalla • January 04, 2013

Several news articles appeared in Indian media today about the upcoming launch of ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission. Five instruments have been selected, and their delivery is expected in March.

Planetary Society Weekly Hangout, Thu Jan 3 1200PT/2000UT: Jim Bell

Emily Lakdawalla • January 02, 2013

Join Emily Lakdawalla and Casey Dreier for a chat with Jim Bell, a scientist who wears many hats. He's the team lead for the Pancam color cameras on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers; he's a member of the Curiosity science team; and he's the esteemed President of the Planetary Society's Board of Directors. We'll talk about the great science being done by both Curiosity and Opportunity, and about what's in store for the future.

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