Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2016

Schiaparelli investigation update; crash site in color from HiRISE

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/23 11:28 CST | 11 comments

ESA issued an update on the Schiaparelli landing investigation today, identifying a problem reading from an inertial measurement unit as the proximate cause of the crash. Meanwhile, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is operating its science instruments for the first time this week, and HiRISE has released calibrated versions of the Schiaparelli crash site images.

Read More »

Emily's recommended space books for kids of all ages, 2016

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/22 10:23 CST | 3 comments

Emily's eighth annual kids' space book recommendation post includes lots of new books for kids of all ages, 0 to 18.

Read More »

HiRISE coverage of the Opportunity field site, version 1.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/18 05:28 CST

As she did before for Curiosity, Emily Lakdawalla has searched through the HiRISE image archive for photos of the Opportunity landing site and sorted them all out so that you don't have to.

Read More »

Great whirling Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/10 11:38 CST | 1 comments

Damian Peach's marvelous Jupiter photography, endlessly rotating in GIF form.

Read More »

Juno update: 53.5-day orbits for the foreseeable future, more Marble Movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/03 09:44 CDT | 4 comments

Juno may be staying in its 53.5-day orbit for quite a while. Here's a list of the future dates of the next 20 close approaches to Jupiter if the mission stays in that orbit, as well as the latest, near-final version of JunoCam's "Marble Movie."

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, November 2016 edition: Cassini takes a leap, ExoMars starts science, Long March 5 launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/01 03:35 CDT | 2 comments

Cassini is going to make a major change to its orbit, getting much close to Saturn, setting up 20 "F-ring" orbits. ExoMars will get two science orbits before beginning aerobraking. Long March 5 will have its first launch, while many Earth-observing missions, including Himawari-9 and GOES-R, will go up. But Juno science is on hold.

Read More »

Schiaparelli crash site imaged by HiRISE

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/27 11:43 CDT | 1 comments

Following up the detection of the Schiaparelli crash site by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter CTX, the higher-resolution HiRISE camera has now definitively identified the locations of lander impact site, parachute with backshell, and heat shield impact site on the Martian surface.

Read More »

DPS/EPSC update on New Horizons at the Pluto system and beyond

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/25 07:17 CDT | 4 comments

Last week's Division for Planetary Sciences/European Planetary Science Congress meeting was chock-full of science from New Horizons at Pluto.

Read More »

Likely Schiaparelli crash site imaged by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/21 05:56 CDT | 8 comments

Just a day after the arrival of ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and its lander Schiaparelli, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken a photo of the landing site with its Context Camera, and things do not look good.

Read More »

Brief update: Opportunity's attempt to image Schiaparelli unsuccessful

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/19 05:35 CDT | 6 comments

Today, the Opportunity rover attempted a difficult, never-before-possible feat: to shoot a photo of an arriving Mars lander from the Martian surface. Unfortunately, that attempt seems not to have succeeded. Opportunity has now returned the images from the observation attempt, but Schiaparelli is not visible.

Read More »

DPS/EPSC update: 2007 OR10 has a moon!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/19 11:46 CDT | 3 comments

The third-largest object known beyond Neptune, 2007 OR10, has a moon. The discovery was reported in a poster by Gábor Marton, Csaba Kiss, and Thomas Mueller at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society (DPS/EPSC) on Monday.

Read More »

Juno to delay planned burn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/16 04:28 CDT | 5 comments

The Juno mission posted a status report late Friday afternoon, indicating that they will not perform the originally planned period reduction maneuver during their next perijove (closest approach to Jupiter) on October 19. The delay changes the start date of the science mission and also all the future dates of Juno's perijoves.

Read More »

ExoMars update: Timeline for separation and orbit insertion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/14 11:51 CDT | 3 comments

Schiaparelli is GO for landing, and ExoMars TGO is GO for orbit insertion! When to expect ExoMars events: Schiaparelli separation, final trajectory maneuvers, landing events, orbit insertion, and press briefings.

Read More »

Curiosity Update, sols 1428-1488: Through the Murray Buttes, drilling at Quela, and beyond

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/13 06:04 CDT | 1 comments

In the two months since my last Curiosity update, the rover has traversed the scenic Murray Buttes, drilled at Quela, and driven another 300 meters southward.

Read More »

ExoMars arrives soon!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/11 01:37 CDT | 3 comments

ESA's ExoMars will arrive at Mars on Wednesday, October 19, with Schiaparelli touching down in Meridiani Planum, and the Trace Gas Orbiter entering orbit while Mars Express watches.

Read More »

Fun with a new image data set: Mars Orbiter Mission's Mars Colour Camera

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/06 06:16 CDT | 11 comments

It's always a delight to sink my teeth into a new data set, and I have spent this week playing with one I've been anticipating for a long time: ISRO's Mars Orbiter's Mars Colour Camera, or MCC. MCC is unique among current Mars cameras in its ability to get color, print-quality, wide-angle, regional views of Mars.

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, October 2016 edition: ExoMars arrives!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/04 06:42 CDT | 2 comments

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrives on October 19, and it will deliver the Schiaparelli lander to its brief life on the Martian surface. Juno's headed into its science orbit, MOM has released science data, and New Horizons will finally finish downlinking Pluto flyby data.

Read More »

Rosetta is gone

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/30 08:13 CDT | 6 comments

Today there is one less spacecraft returning science data from beyond Earth. The European Space Operations Centre received the final transmission from Rosetta at 11:19 September 30, UT.

Read More »

Rosetta spacecraft may be dying, but Rosetta science will go on

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/29 12:47 CDT | 3 comments

The Rosetta mission will end tomorrow when the spacecraft impacts the comet. ESA took advantage of the presence of hundreds of members of the media to put on a showcase of Rosetta science. If there’s one thing I learned today from all the science presentations, it’s this: Rosetta data will be informing scientific work for decades to come.

Read More »

OSIRIS-REx’s cameras see first light

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/29 03:34 CDT

As OSIRIS-REx speeds away from Earth, it’s been turning on and testing out its various engineering functions and science instruments. Proof of happy instrument status has come from several cameras, including the star tracker, MapCam, and StowCam.

Read More »

Rosetta end-of-mission event schedule

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/27 11:45 CDT | 3 comments

A schedule of what to expect during Rosetta's final hours September 29 and 30, and how you can follow online.

Read More »

Juno and Marble Movie update at Apojove 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/22 12:51 CDT | 4 comments

Juno is on its second of two long orbits around Jupiter, reaching apojove (its farthest distance from the planet) today.

Read More »

Where to find rapidly released space image data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/21 07:06 CDT | 1 comments

Interested in playing with recent space image data? Here's a list of places to get the freshest photos from space.

Read More »

Some beautiful new (old) views of Neptune and Triton

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/20 02:40 CDT | 4 comments

Beautiful new amateur work with 27-year-old Voyager data.

Read More »

Successful launch for China's Tiangong-2 space station

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/15 09:37 CDT

Today, China launched its second modular space station, Tiangong 2.

Read More »

One year remains in the Cassini mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/15 09:27 CDT | 6 comments

Cassini ends a year from today, which is sad. But the final year of the mission is going to be awesome.

Read More »

Gaia's first galaxy map

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/14 02:45 CDT | 3 comments

The astronomy world is abuzz today because of ESA's announcement of the first release of data from the Gaia mission. Gaia is a five-year mission that will eventually measure the positions and motions of billions of stars; this first data release includes positions for 1.1 billion of them, and proper motions for 2 million.

Read More »

Cassini's camera views of Titan's polar lakes in summer, processed into pseudocolor

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/12 01:50 CDT | 1 comments

Titan's north polar lakes are well-lit by summer sun in these recent Cassini images. Image processing enthusiast Ian Regan shares his recipe for processing the longer-wavelength Titan images into visually pleasing "pseudocolor."

Read More »

Rosetta end-of-mission update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/09 12:40 CDT | 5 comments

The European Space Agency has shared plans for the end of the Rosetta mission scheduled for September 30, just three weeks from now. The landing site will be located on the "head" of the comet, next to a prominent pit now named Deir el-Medina.

Read More »

Philae spotted on the surface of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/06 02:27 CDT | 1 comments

Ever since its landing, Philae has been elusive. It went silent just three days later and never returned any more science data, though it made brief contact with the orbiter last summer. Now, just a month until the planned end of the Rosetta mission, the orbiter has finally located the lander in a stunning high-resolution view of the surface.

Read More »

OSIRIS-REx is on the launch pad, ready for the big day

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/02 04:21 CDT | 6 comments

The OSIRIS-REx mission passed its flight readiness review yesterday, clearing the way for the spacecraft to launch on Thursday, September 8. Here's a schedule of next week's NASA TV briefings and a photo album of the launch preparations.

Read More »

Juno's instruments return riches from first perijove

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/09/02 02:30 CDT | 3 comments

On August 27, Juno soared across Jupiter's cloud tops from pole to pole, with all instruments operating. NASA posted some terrific first results from several of the instruments today. And the JunoCam team released all 28 raw images taken during the close encounter.

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, September 2016 edition: OSIRIS-REx launches, Rosetta ends

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/31 12:00 CDT | 1 comments

The month of September begins with an annular solar eclipse visible from much of Africa on September 1. On or after September 8, we'll see OSIRIS-REx launch into a two-year cruise toward a rendezvous with asteroid Bennu. But September will close, sadly, with the end of the wonderful Rosetta mission.

Read More »

Juno's first Jupiter close approach successful; best JunoCam images yet to come

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/27 08:07 CDT | 13 comments

NASA announced this afternoon that Juno passed through its first perijove since entering orbit successfully, with science instruments operating all the way. This is a huge relief, given all the unknowns about the effects of Jupiter's nasty radiation environment on its brand-new orbiter.

Read More »

How big is that butte?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/23 05:09 CDT | 4 comments

Whenever I share images from Curiosity, among the most common questions I’m asked is “what is the scale of this image?” With help from imaging enthusiast Seán Doran, I can answer that question for some of the Murray buttes.

Read More »

JunoCam "Marble Movie" data available

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/22 04:56 CDT | 11 comments

Since a few days after entering orbit, JunoCam has been taking photos of Jupiter every fifteen minutes, accumulating a trove of data that can be assembled into a movie of the planet.

Read More »

OSIRIS-REx launch preview

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/17 03:34 CDT | 1 comments

Launch day is coming for NASA's next interplanetary explorer! OSIRIS-REx is on schedule for launch on September 8, 2016 at 19:05 EDT (16:05 PDT, 23:05 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. OSIRIS-REx is the first NASA planetary launch since MAVEN in 2013, and will be the last until InSight in 2018.

Read More »

Photos: OSIRIS-REx prepares for launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/15 11:58 CDT

Only 24 days remain until the opening of OSIRIS-REx's launch period, and final preparations are underway. There is a lot to do in the final months before a launch, but things seem to be going well.

Read More »

Curiosity update, sols 1373-1427: Driving up to Murray buttes, drilling at Marimba

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/11 11:35 CDT | 1 comments

Curiosity has now covered most of the flat ground that lay between the Naukluft plateau and the Murray buttes. The mission took only 11 days to complete drilling work at Marimba, despite a recurrence of a problematic short in the drill. The rover is ready to drive in among the buttes, shooting spectacular photos along the way.

Read More »

Yutu is NOT dead (probably)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/10 07:48 CDT | 2 comments

Despite what you may have read on other websites last week, China's Yutu lunar rover is probably still functional on the surface of the Moon.

Read More »

JunoCam raw data from the Juno approach movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/08/09 03:03 CDT | 1 comments

As it approached Jupiter from June 12 to 29, JunoCam captured an animation of the major moons orbiting the planet. The mission released a processed version of the animation on the day of orbit insertion, but took a few weeks to release the raw image data. I've prepared a page hosting all the raw data, and share a few processed versions.

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, August 2016 edition: Juno to get Jupiter close-ups, Rosetta descending, road-tripping rovers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/29 02:35 CDT | 5 comments

This month we'll finally see JunoCam's first high-resolution images of Jupiter. We'll also see OSIRIS-REx making progress toward its September 8 launch. Both rovers are road-tripping at Mars, while ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has completed a major mid-course correction ahead of its October arrival.

Read More »

Rosetta end-of-mission plans: Landing site, time selected

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/26 03:13 CDT | 2 comments

ESA's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft is nearing the end of its mission. Last week, ESA announced when and where Rosetta is going to touch down. And tomorrow, it will forever shut down the radio system intended for communicating with the silent Philae lander.

Read More »

The Planetary Society at San Diego Comic-Con (UPDATED with video!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/21 06:04 CDT | 4 comments

Whether or not you're attending San Diego Comic-Con, you can enjoy a discussion panel with Emily Lakdawalla and five science fiction authors about the future of science fiction in the context of today's amazing scientific advances.

Read More »

Pluto is not the end

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/14 08:03 CDT | 14 comments

One year after the New Horizons Pluto flyby, Emily reflects on its significance.

Read More »

Oppositions, conjunctions, seasons, and ring plane crossings of the giant planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/07 08:01 CDT | 4 comments

When are the solstices and equinoxes on the giant planets, and when are they best positioned for view from Earth? I ask these questions a lot as I write about Earth photos of giant planets, and I finally decided to gather the answers to those questions in a single post.

Read More »

Juno has arrived!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/05 01:14 CDT | 7 comments

For a second time, NASA has placed a spacecraft into orbit at Jupiter. The spacecraft operated exactly according to plan, and Juno successfully entered orbit today, July 5, 2016, UTC

Read More »

A peek at the JunoCam approach movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/04 09:36 CDT | 2 comments

We're now just about 12 hours away from Juno's Jupiter orbit insertion. As anticipation ramps up, NASA has released this sneak peek at JunoCam's approach movie, made of views of Jupiter and its largest moons shot during the final approach, up until about five days ago.

Read More »

How to watch Juno's orbit insertion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/01 05:22 CDT | 3 comments

The big day is almost here. Juno begins firing its main engine at 20:18 PT / 23:18 ET / 03:18 UT on July 4/5, and the maneuver should be over 35 minutes later at 20:53 / 23:53 / 03:53. Here's how you can follow the mission through its most hazardous event since launch.

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, July 2016 edition: Juno to enter orbit, NASA missions all extended

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/01 03:49 CDT | 2 comments

Highlights this month include the impending arrival of Juno at Jupiter, the approval of extended missions for all of NASA's solar system spacecraft, and public data releases from Rosetta, New Horizons, and Cassini.

Read More »

Juno's first taste of science from Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/30 06:23 CDT | 8 comments

Jupiter is growing in Juno's forward view as the spacecraft approaches for its orbit insertion July 5 (July 4 in the Americas). The mission has released images from JunoCam and sonifications of data from the plasma waves instrument as Juno begins to sense Jupiter.

Read More »

Plans for China's farside Chang'e 4 lander science mission taking shape

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/22 12:09 CDT | 3 comments

The future Chang'e 4 lunar farside landing mission is rapidly taking shape. Now the mission's team is coming to a consensus on the landing location, as well as on the mission's instrument package.

Read More »

National Selfie Day: Spacecraft self-portraits

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/21 11:27 CDT | 6 comments

It's apparently National Selfie Day. I'm not entirely sure who has the authority to declare these things, or why they decided we needed a National Selfie Day, but since the self-portrait is one of my favorite subgenres of spacecraft photography, I couldn't resist writing about them.

Read More »

Timeline of Juno Jupiter Orbit Insertion events

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/16 02:55 CDT | 1 comments

Today NASA held a press briefing and released a press kit for the impending orbit insertion of the Juno spacecraft. The 35-minute orbit insertion burn is scheduled to begin July 5 at 03:18 UTC (July 4 20:18, PDT). Here's a timeline for events relating to orbit insertion.

Read More »

ExoMars sights Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/16 12:26 CDT

Today ESA released ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's first photo of Mars, taken from a distance of 41 million kilometers. It's no more detail than you can get through a pair of a binoculars, just a little taste of what's to come.

Read More »

Curiosity update, sols 1311-1369: Drilling at Lubango, Okoruso, and Oudam, and a turn to the south

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/15 05:24 CDT | 1 comments

Curiosity is at a turning point in its mission to Mount Sharp, both literally and figuratively. Having drilled at three sample sites in 7 weeks, the rover took a left turn, changing its trajectory from a generally westward driving path to a southward one. It is now poised to cross the Bagnold dune field at Murray buttes.

Read More »

Nadia Drake: NSF investigating how to shut down Arecibo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/13 03:28 CDT | 8 comments

Reporter Nadia Drake has been following the status of Arecibo very closely, and recently wrote two articles explaining what it means that the National Science Foundation has begun an environmental review process for the giant radio telescope.

Read More »

Video: Two talks featuring pretty pictures from space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/10 01:30 CDT | 1 comments

Videos of two recent talks I've given, one intended for a general audience and one aimed at professionals.

Read More »

What to expect from JunoCam at Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/09 09:37 CDT | 16 comments

Juno will go in to orbit at Jupiter on July 5 (July 4 in North and South American time zones), and it's carrying a camera that's going to take really awesome photos of Jupiter. But you're going to have to be patient. Emily Lakdawalla explains why.

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, June 2016 edition: Juno approaches Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/01 05:23 CDT | 5 comments

Your monthly roundup of the adventures of the 20+ robots exploring our solar system.

Read More »

Three bright planets: Portraits from the Pyrenees

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/26 02:40 CDT | 1 comments

It's a great time to go outdoors and look at planets. I have three glorious planetary portraits to share today, sent to me by amateur astronomer Jean-Luc Dauvergne.

Read More »

New work with 35-year-old data: Voyagers at Ganymede and Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/25 04:44 CDT | 8 comments

The Voyager data set is a gift to Earth that keeps on giving. This week, I've seen three great new images processed from this old data set.

Read More »

OSIRIS-REx shipped to Florida for September launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/23 07:53 CDT | 1 comments

OSIRIS-REx's long journey to an asteroid has begun. The spacecraft departed Colorado on Friday, May 20, travelling aboard an Air Force C-17 to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

Read More »

Akatsuki begins a productive science mission at Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/19 06:02 CDT | 4 comments

Japan's Akatsuki Venus orbiter is well into its science mission, and has already produced surprising science results. The mission, originally planned to last two years, could last as many as five, monitoring Venus' atmosphere over the long term.

Read More »

A feast of new OSIRIS photos from comet 67P

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/11 04:19 CDT | 2 comments

Last week, the Rosetta mission released a large quantity of science data to the worldwide public, including photos from the mission's close observation phase and the Philae landing.

Read More »

What's up in the solar system, May 2016 edition: Good news in cruise for Juno and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/03 11:17 CDT | 5 comments

May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.

Read More »

The phases of the far side of the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/28 10:50 CDT | 4 comments

Serbian artist Ivica Stošić used Clementine and Kaguya data to give a glimpse of the phases of the lunar farside.

Read More »

Quick Curiosity update, sol 1320: "Lubango," the 10th drill site on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/25 11:15 CDT | 1 comments

Curiosity has drilled into Mars for the 10th time at a site named Lubango, on sol 1320 (April 23, 2016). Lubango is in a bright-toned halo around a crack in the Stimson sandstone unit on the western edge of the Naukluft Plateau.

Read More »

NASA Space Apps Challenge: Women hacking space image data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/22 12:19 CDT | 2 comments

Today I'm participating in a program called the International @SpaceApps Women in Data Bootcamp. I'm presenting a brief talk highlighting the way that my personal discovery of NASA's image data archives shaped my path into public communication about science, and briefly showcasing three other women who do amazing work with public image data.

Read More »

Moonset over Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/21 10:23 CDT | 1 comments

Enjoy this serene image of a moonset on another world, captured by Curiosity's Mastcam in April 2014 and processed here by Justin Cowart.

Read More »

A new angle on Mars for Mars Odyssey

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/19 01:05 CDT | 4 comments

Mars Odyssey has been in space for 15 years. It flies in a special "sun-synchronous" orbit, crossing the equator at roughly the same local time every day. Over time, the Odyssey mission has changed what that local time of day is, and I just realized something cool about how those changes show up in the geometry of its images.

Read More »

Curiosity update, sols 1250-1310: Across the Naukluft Plateau

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/13 02:57 CDT | 8 comments

Curiosity has driven onward from Namib dune across a highstanding unit of rock called the Naukluft Plateau. Despite some frustrating sols lost to a short circuit in the RTG and DSN troubles, the rover has made progress, and performed lots of 3D imaging of weirdly wind-eroded rocks.

Read More »

Opposition surge comet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/12 10:43 CDT | 1 comments

Today, the Rosetta OSIRIS team's Image of the Day is this highly unusual view of the comet with the Sun very nearly behind the spacecraft.

Read More »

What's up in solar system exploration: April 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/04 10:58 CDT | 2 comments

This month (actually, today), Cassini had a relatively close flyby of Titan, and New Horizons will observe a very distant Kuiper belt object named 1994 JR1. Akatsuki has just fine-tuned its orbit around Venus, and Hayabusa2 has begun an 800-hour ion engine thrusting phase to steer it toward near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.

Read More »

LPSC 2016: So. Much. Ceres.

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/30 06:31 CDT | 13 comments

At last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, I enjoyed a large number of talks about Ceres. Now in its Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit, Dawn is showering scientists with high-resolution, color data.

Read More »

Looking Forward to the 2016 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/16 12:23 CDT | 2 comments

If it's March, it's time for LPSC, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The 2016 LPSC runs from March 21 to 25; I'll be attending the first three days of it.

Read More »

ExoMars launch successful! What to expect for the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/14 04:30 CDT | 1 comments

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are safely on their way to Mars! The two lifted off at 9:31 UTC today, March 14, 2016. Orbiter and lander will arrive at Mars on October 19 at approximately 16:00 UTC. The lander is expected to last about 3 days. The orbiter will spend a year aerobraking before beginning its science mission.

Read More »

Approaching Neptune

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/11 12:17 CST | 2 comments

Image processing enthusiast Ian Regan is working on a cool new version of the Voyager 2 Neptune approach movie.

Read More »

ExoMars: Prepare for launch!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/10 10:28 CST | 5 comments

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are in the final preparations for a launch as early as Monday, toward an October 2016 Mars orbit insertion and landing in Meridiani Planum. Launch on a Proton rocket is expected at 09:31:42 UT Monday, March 14. A Breeze-M upper stage will send the spacecraft on to Mars, with separation at 20:13 UT.

Read More »

InSight has a new launch date: May 5, 2018

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/09 03:41 CST

NASA has decided to move forward with the InSight mission after its delay last December, setting a new launch date of May 5, 2018. That will put the landing on Mars on November 26, 2018. In order to launch in two years, one of its two science instruments must be redesigned.

Read More »

"Planet Nine" update: Possible resonances beyond the Kuiper belt?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/08 11:34 CST | 27 comments

A new paper by Renu Malhotra proposes that an undiscovered distant planet could have organized extremely distant Kuiper belt objects into orbital resonances.

Read More »

Mars Express VMC is back online

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/04 12:48 CST

Mars Express' Visual Monitoring Camera is taking photos again! The camera was turned on for the first time in six months on Leap Day to take some lovely photos of Mars.

Read More »

What's up in solar system exploration: March 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/29 02:45 CST | 4 comments

Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.

Read More »

Curiosity Rover: Design, Planning, and Field Geology on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/26 12:09 CST | 6 comments

Emily is back to work on her Mars Science Laboratory book, which has a new publication date and a new title.

Read More »

Pretty pictures: Cassini views of Titan's poles (with bonus Enceladus)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/25 02:13 CST | 4 comments

Image processing enthusiast Ian Regan produced a pretty view of Titan's lake-filled north pole, now visible to Cassini's cameras in the summer sun.

Read More »

UPDATED: ESA activates a new old space camera

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/19 10:45 CST | 2 comments

Inspired by the Mars Webcam on Mars Express, ESA's Cluster mission has turned on a camera on the Cluster spacecraft for the first time since their launch more than 15 years ago. UPDATE: It has now acquired images of Earth.

Read More »

Light plays on a Martian crater rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/16 01:30 CST

Recently, space image processing enthusiast Thomas Appéré noticed that Curiosity had taken five photos of exactly the same spot on the rim of Gale crater, identical but for being taken at different times of day. That spot was due north of the rover, so the rising and lowering Sun illuminates the rounded hummocks of the crater rim differently from early morning to early afternoon.

Read More »

Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/10 12:21 CST | 4 comments

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

Read More »

HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 3.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/05 12:53 CST | 1 comments

There have been tons and tons of HiRISE images of the Curiosity landing region, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to find, locate, and catalogue them. This post is a summary of what I've found; after five revisions and updates, it's now version 3.0 of the list.

Read More »

30th anniversary images of Uranian moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/02 01:06 CST | 6 comments

January 24 was the 30th anniversary of the Voyager flyby of Uranus. Uranian moons have been on my mind ever since New Horizons sent us close-up images of Charon. On the occasion of the anniversary, Ted Stryk produced latest-and-greatest versions of the Voyager views of these worlds.

Read More »

What's up in solar system exploration: February 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/29 11:57 CST | 2 comments

What's going on with our robotic planetary missions? In February I count more than 20 planetary spacecraft exploring six targets beyond Earth or cruising to new destinations.

Read More »

Fun with a new data set: Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/28 07:08 CST | 26 comments

Here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.

Read More »

Wide views of Mars from Mars Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/27 10:59 CST | 4 comments

Geologist and amateur space image processor Justin Cowart has dug into the Mars Express archives and located some lovely, wide views across great swaths of the Martian globe.

Read More »

xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/22 01:00 CST | 3 comments

Randall Munroe is a genius at disguising seriously educational infographics as funny jokes.

Read More »

Theoretical evidence for an undiscovered super-Earth at the edge of our solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/20 11:54 CST | 37 comments

It's looking likelier that there is an undiscovered planet orbiting beyond the Kuiper belt. If it's there, it's roughly 10 times the mass of Earth (or about half the mass of Neptune), likely never gets closer to the Sun than about 100 AU, and takes more than 10,000 years to orbit the Sun.

Read More »

Pretty pictures: Bittersweet goodies from Cassini at Titan, Enceladus, and Telesto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/15 02:00 CST | 7 comments

Tomorrow, Cassini will fly by Titan, picking up a gravity assist that will tilt its orbit slightly up and out of the ring plane. That will end what has been a wonderful year of frequent encounters with Saturnian moons.

Read More »

Updates on China's lunar missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/14 03:39 CST | 2 comments

It's official: China plans to send a lander mission to the lunar farside. A relay satellite will launch to the Earth-Moon L2 point in June of 2018, and a lander will follow at the end of 2018. The landing site may be within the south pole-Aitken basin.

Read More »

JunoCam cruise data, and a look ahead to Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/13 11:13 CST | 2 comments

Juno is now fewer than six months and 100 million kilometers away from Jupiter, and the Juno team is busily preparing for the arrival. Amateur astronomers are supporting them by taking lots of Jupiter photos.

Read More »

Curiosity update, sols 1166-1217: First reconnaissance of Bagnold dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/07 08:09 CST | 4 comments

In the six weeks since my last detailed Curiosity update, the rover has driven to, on, and around a couple of active barchan sand dunes on Mars. They are now searching for a site to scoop and sample sand on the western edge of Namib dune.

Read More »

It's your data: Curating NASA's science treasures

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/05 05:22 CST | 3 comments

One of the great things about NASA is that all the data returned from all of the missions all over the solar system belong to you, the public. NASA shares all these data, and more, through the Planetary Data System, the Minor Planet Center, the Astromaterials Office, and the Astrogeology Science Center.

Read More »

Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program provides each Society member a voice in the process.

Funding is critical. The more we have, the more effective we can be, translating into more missions, more science, and more exploration.

Donate

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Beyond The Horizon, There's More To Explore!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!