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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2018

What to Expect When InSight Lands on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • November 12, 2018

If all goes well, anxious space fans on Earth will learn of a successful InSight landing on Mars on Monday, 26 November 2018, at 19:53 UTC. Here's a preview of all the landing day events.

Following perfect launch, BepiColombo takes self-portraits from space

Emily Lakdawalla • October 22, 2018

BepiColombo's launch was nominal -- the best thing any launch can be. Following launch, the spacecraft documented successful solar array and antenna deployments with self-portraits.

How to follow BepiColombo's launch

Emily Lakdawalla • October 12, 2018

I’m thrilled to be anticipating the beginning of a new mission to Mercury. Here's a timeline for BepiColombo's planned launch on 20 October (19 October in the U.S.).

MASCOT landing on Ryugu a success

Emily Lakdawalla • October 05, 2018

For 17 hours on 3 October, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander sent data to the waiting Hayabusa2 orbiter from multiple locations on Ryugu.

Programming note: Emily Lakdawalla speaking tour of New Zealand 23 September - 1 October

Emily Lakdawalla • September 19, 2018

Attention Kiwi space fans! I’m embarking shortly on a speaking tour of New Zealand. I hope to meet lots of Planetary Society members and supporters, and sign a few copies of my book.

The September Equinox 2018 Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

Emily Lakdawalla • September 18, 2018

With my first issue of The Planetary Report as editor, I am taking the magazine open-access. Return to Mercury features articles by Elsa Montagnon on BepiColombo and by Long Xiao on the Chang'e-4 and -5 landers.

Hayabusa2 stops short of close approach on first touchdown rehearsal

Emily Lakdawalla • September 13, 2018

Hayabusa2 didn’t quite make it down to its intended 60-meter distance from asteroid Ryugu yesterday. There is nothing wrong with the spacecraft; it’s healthy and returning to its home position. The team will adjust parameters and give it another try in the future.

Curiosity update, sols 2093-2162: Three tries to successful drill atop Vera Rubin Ridge

Emily Lakdawalla • September 06, 2018

Heedless of the (now-dissipating) dust storm, Curiosity has achieved its first successful drill into rocks that form the Vera Rubin ridge, and is hopefully on the way to a second. It took three attempts for Curiosity to find a soft enough spot, with Voyageurs and Ailsa Craig being too tough, but Stoer proved obligingly soft on sol 2136.

OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons catch first sight of their targets

Emily Lakdawalla • August 29, 2018

Both OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons achieved first light on their still-distant targets this week. Between now and the end of 2018, Bennu and 2014 MU69 will turn from points of light into places.

Hayabusa2 Team Announces Ryugu Landing Sites, Initial Science Survey Results

Emily Lakdawalla • August 24, 2018

Two months after arrival, the team has reported some preliminary facts about Ryugu. They also announced the selection of candidate landing sites for the spacecraft sample collection, for the German-built MASCOT hopper, and for the MINERVA-II microrovers

Chandrayaan-2 launch delayed to 3 January 2019

Emily Lakdawalla • August 13, 2018

Chandrayaan-2, expected to launch in October, will now be launching no earlier than 3 January 2019, with its lander and rover touching down in February.

Hayabusa2 descends again, this time to lower than 1000 meters above Ryugu

Emily Lakdawalla • August 10, 2018

This week Hayabusa2 completed its closest approach yet to asteroid Ryugu. In a successful gravity measurement experiment on August 6, the spacecraft dipped to within 1 kilometer of the asteroid.

A second successful medium-altitude operation for Hayabusa2

Emily Lakdawalla • August 03, 2018

For the second time, JAXA navigators have zoomed their cameras and other instruments in on asteroid Ryugu. The August 1 operation was quicker than the previous one, requiring only 26 hours for the descent, science, and ascent.

Curiosity's organics on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2018

What does it mean that the Mars rover Curiosity found organics in Martian rocks? Emily Lakdawalla translates the science.

Liquid Water on Mars! Really for Real This Time (Probably)

Emily Lakdawalla • July 25, 2018

A radar instrument on one of the oldest operational Mars orbiters has discovered possible evidence of present-day liquid water on Mars.

Hayabusa2 descends from Home Position to take its first close look at Ryugu

Emily Lakdawalla • July 25, 2018

Last week, Hayabusa2 approached to within 6000 meters of the surface of Ryugu, taking new photos. The team has developed a set of terminology to describe Hayabusa2's navigational positions around the asteroid.

Hello from the new editor of The Planetary Report

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2018

I'm honored to be the new editor of The Planetary Society's flagship magazine, The Planetary Report.

Programming note

Emily Lakdawalla • July 01, 2018

Emily Lakdawalla is on vacation from 1 to 22 July. Jason Davis will reign over the blog in her absence.

Curiosity update, sols 2027-2092: Return to drilling at Duluth, sciencing the dust storm

Emily Lakdawalla • June 29, 2018

Hooray! Curiosity has triumphantly returned to drilling with a successful drill and delivery to its lab instruments at a site named Duluth. It's now studying the dust storm as it drives to new drill sites on Vera Rubin ridge.

Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu, so I can make comparisons of asteroid scales!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 27, 2018

On 26 June 2018, Hayabusa2 arrived at its target asteroid, Ryugu. In a very brief status update, I present comparisons of Ryugu to other previously visited asteroids and comets.

Hayabusa2 update: New views of Ryugu and corkscrew course adjustments

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2018

Ryugu has continued to grow in Hayabusa2's forward view, resolving into a diamond-shaped body with visible bumps and craters! They've done hazard searches, optical navigation imaging, and measured the rotation rate at 7.6 hours.

Hayabusa2: Ryugu takes shape

Emily Lakdawalla • June 14, 2018

Hayabusa2 is now less than 1000 kilometers away from Ryugu, and the tiny asteroid is beginning to betray its shape.

Get ready for OSIRIS-REx at Bennu! ...but be patient.

Emily Lakdawalla • June 12, 2018

NASA's OSIRIS-REx will get the first sight of its target Bennu in August and go into orbit in December.

Hayabusa2's Approach phase has begun with a new photo of Ryugu!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 07, 2018

On June 3, Hayabusa2 ended use of its ion engines, for now, and is coasting the remaining distance toward Ryugu. It's using an optical navigation camera to image the asteroid's position against a field of background stars to help it navigate.

So you need questions answered about space

Emily Lakdawalla • June 01, 2018

A post for kids whose teachers have told them to send emails to scientists asking questions.

How long is a day on Saturn?

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2018

One of the Cassini mission's goals was to figure out how long a day on Saturn is. We still don't know. A new paper reports a measurement of the rotation period of Saturn that is different from past measurements.

How to keep up with Hayabusa2

Emily Lakdawalla • May 25, 2018

Hayabusa2 is approaching asteroid Ryugu! Here's how to stay on top of mission news and the mission's planned schedule for 2018.

Approaching Mars on Spaceship Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • May 24, 2018

One of the great things about space exploration is how it can shift your perspective. And you don't even need to leave home.

Eleven perijoves

Emily Lakdawalla • May 18, 2018

Seán Doran has made a cool visual index to the images that JunoCam took during Juno's first 12 closest approaches to Jupiter.

#Mercury2018: From MESSENGER to BepiColombo and beyond

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2018

A Mercury meeting held May 1-3 summarized the current and future science of the innermost planet. Emily Lakdawalla was there and shares her notes.

Book Excerpt: The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the radioisotope power system works

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2018

Readers, colleagues, friends: it's finally happened. My first book is finally out in the world. Here's an excerpt that explains the design and operation of Curiosity's MMRTG, (it also applies to the future Mars 2020 rover power supply).

Juno's 12th perijove in lifelike color

Emily Lakdawalla • May 11, 2018

With the help of some preprocessing of JunoCam images by Mattias Malmer, Don Davis shows us how Jupiter might have looked on April 1, 2018, if we'd been aboard Juno.

Philae science results: Comet 67P is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside

Emily Lakdawalla • May 09, 2018

What is the surface of a comet like? That's one of the main questions that motivated Philae's mission to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. We now know the comet has a rigid crust about 10 to 50 centimeters thick, below which the comet is much more fluffy.

Go Atlas, go Centaur, go InSight!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 05, 2018

NASA’s next Mars mission launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base today!

MarCO: CubeSats to Mars!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 01, 2018

MarCO or Mars Cube One is an experimental mission that is sending two tiny spacecraft along with InSight to Mars. If successful, they will relay real-time telemetry from InSight to Earth during the landing.

Moon Monday: Prometheus

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2018

Happy Monday! Here's a picture of Prometheus. You may think it's a picture of Saturn. Look hard, toward the bottom, and you'll see Prometheus, doing its part to keep the F ring in line.

OSIRIS-REx shows us space isn't entirely empty

Emily Lakdawalla • April 20, 2018

What a cool photo of OSIRIS-REx's sample return capsule! But wait, what's that black dot near the top?

Curiosity Update, sols 1972-2026: Completing the Vera Rubin Ridge Walkabout

Emily Lakdawalla • April 17, 2018

The Curiosity team has completed its initial survey of the top of Vera Rubin Ridge, and is ready to make another attempt at drilling after the rock at Lake Orcadie proved to be too hard.

Moon Monday: Deimos

Emily Lakdawalla • April 16, 2018

Digging into the Viking archives to produce a new old composite of Mars' smaller moon.

Seeing InSight

Emily Lakdawalla • April 10, 2018

Last week, I received a golden ticket that gave me rare access to a sacred space: the cleanroom facility where NASA's next Mars lander, InSight, is undergoing final preparations for launch.

Preview of the InSight Mars launch

Emily Lakdawalla • April 05, 2018

NASA’s next planetary launch is coming up, as soon as May 5, 2018. This post is your one-stop shop for information about InSight’s launch, cruise, and expected mission to Mars.

A new storm on Saturn!

Emily Lakdawalla • April 03, 2018

On March 29, vigilant astronomer Maciel Bassani Sparrenberger discovered that a new bright spot had broken out in Saturn's high northern latitudes.

Moon Monday: Galileo's Galileans

Emily Lakdawalla • April 02, 2018

This week it seems fitting to feature a portrait of the Galilean moons by Galileo.

#LPSC2018: Fungi in the lab, hot springs frozen cold, and exploding lakes

Emily Lakdawalla • March 29, 2018

The first astrobiology session at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference featured talks on a huge variety of interesting topics, and was one of my favorite sessions at the meeting.

#LPSC2018: Collaborative notes from conference sessions

Emily Lakdawalla • March 28, 2018

At last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, I tried a new experiment: collaborating with other attendees to take a shared set of notes.

Tiangong-1: How to follow the space lab's decaying orbit and reentry

Emily Lakdawalla • March 27, 2018

With the space station likely to fall on April Fool's Day, it's important to know whom to follow for reliable information.

#MoonMon: Io's pretty plumes

Emily Lakdawalla • March 26, 2018

On this Moon Monday, I'm featuring an animation processed by Gordan Ugarkovic, showing Jupiter's volcanic moon Io with its prominent plumes.

#LPSC2018: Titan Is Terrific!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 21, 2018

Emily's first report from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference is on the solar system's most atmospheriffic satellite, Saturn's moon Titan.

Moon Monday: Looking back at the Moon from Apollo 17

Emily Lakdawalla • March 18, 2018

For this Moon Monday, Emily digs up a classic from the end of the Apollo program.

#LPSC2018: A full week of planetary science

Emily Lakdawalla • March 15, 2018

It's time for the 49th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), a geology-focused meeting of planetary scientists. Here's a preview, and a call for help from attendees. I'll be presenting at two lunchtime workshops.

Moon Monday: Tethys from Voyager

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2018

To start the week, Voyager 2's best image of Tethys.

Image processing trick: How to open PDS-formatted images in Photoshop

Emily Lakdawalla • March 07, 2018

Emily explains to amateur image processors how to open archival NASA science data directly in Photoshop without needing to use any other software tools.

InSight delivered to Vandenberg launch site

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2018

InSight, NASA's next Mars mission, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in preparation for a May 5 launch.

Sketching a science meeting

Emily Lakdawalla • March 02, 2018

The Planetary Society has always enjoyed the connections between science and art, so when I saw Leila Qışın's sketches pop up on her Twitter feed during the recent New Horizons team meeting, I knew I had to share them with you.

Hayabusa2 has detected Ryugu!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 01, 2018

In a milestone for the mission, JAXA's Hayabusa2 sample return spacecraft has sighted its destination, asteroid Ryugu.

Curiosity update, sols 1927-1971: Ready to resume drilling

Emily Lakdawalla • February 21, 2018

After a hiatus of nearly 500 sols, Curiosity is ready to attempt drilling into a Mars rock again.

Opportunity's sol 5000 self-portrait

Emily Lakdawalla • February 20, 2018

Last week the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity celebrated its 5000th sol on Mars, and it celebrated by taking the first complete Mars Exploration Rover self-portrait.

Ten times the solar system reminded us sample collection is hard

Emily Lakdawalla • February 19, 2018

Some of the biggest discoveries we make in planetary science rely on the seemingly simple act of picking up and analyzing pieces of other worlds. When things go awry, scientists and engineers can sometimes squeeze amazing science out of a tough situation.

Maintaining the health of an aging Mars orbiter

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2018

NASA has announced changes to how engineers are operating Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in order to prolong its life as long as possible, long enough to support the Mars 2020 rover mission.

Speak your science: How to give a better conference talk

Emily Lakdawalla • February 06, 2018

Bad presentation often gets in the way of good science. Emily Lakdawalla offers her advice on how to present your scientific work effectively.

Some big moons in the Kuiper belt

Emily Lakdawalla • January 25, 2018

In a new preprint, Mike Brown and Bryan Butler show evidence that two Kuiper belt moons are even bigger than we used to think. They are Eris' moon Dysnomia, and Orcus' moon Vanth.

New Horizons prepares for encounter with 2014 MU69

Emily Lakdawalla • January 24, 2018

Throughout 2018, New Horizons will cruise toward its January 1 encounter with 2014 MU69. Preparations for the flyby are nearly complete.

HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 4.0

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2018

The latest and greatest update of Emily's list of all the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE images that contain Curiosity hardware, tracks, or traverses.

Curiosity update, sols 1814-1926: Vera Rubin Ridge Walkabout

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2018

Curiosity is climbing across the top of Vera Rubin Ridge, spying varicolored rocks. It's getting closer to being ready to drill again, and has performed a wet chemistry experiment for the first time.

astronaut on Phobos
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