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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2019

Emily's Recommended Kids' Space Books: Special Apollo 11 Anniversary Edition for July 2019

Emily Lakdawalla • July 03, 2019

So many Apollo-related books have come out in the first half of 2019 that I decided to cover them in a special summer book-recommendation blog. I have 5 brand-new Apollo-related books to recommend for kids, and include others I've recommended in past years.

InSight Update: A Couple More Tiny Quakes and Heat Probe Progress

Emily Lakdawalla • July 02, 2019

InSight has detected a couple more small Marsquakes, and the team has lifted the housing of the heat probe off the ground, exposing the top of the mole in a surprisingly wide hole.

ESA to Launch Comet Interceptor Mission in 2028

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2019

With Comet Interceptor, ESA plans to meet a comet on its first trip into the inner solar system. The mission was selected yesterday after a fast-track proposal process and will be developed on a rapid (for ESA) timeline, with a launch planned for 2028.

OSIRIS-REx Sets Low-Orbit Record, Enters New Orbital B Mission Phase

Emily Lakdawalla • June 19, 2019

Last week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission announced that they had achieved an orbit above asteroid Bennu with an altitude of only 680 meters. Now they are surveying for landing sites and have invited the public's help.

The June Solstice 2019 Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 10, 2019

Two feature articles bring you the excitement and science of exploring two very different representatives of the solar system's smaller worlds.

ESA Prepares for ExoMars Rover 2020 Launch at Mars and on Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2019

Preparations for the ExoMars rover mission are in their final stages. ESA made two announcements today: ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is shifting orbit, and they officially opened a new Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC) in Turin, Italy.

Curiosity Gazes Upon Noctilucent Clouds Over Gale Crater

Emily Lakdawalla • May 28, 2019

Wispy clouds of stunning beauty fly over Curiosity every evening.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Images Beresheet Impact Site

Emily Lakdawalla • May 16, 2019

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has successfully imaged the impact site of the Beresheet lander, which made a really good run at performing the first privately funded Moon landing on 11 April, but crashed after the failure of its main engine.

China’s SmallSat Lunar Mission Longjiang-2 to Deorbit on 31 July

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2019

According to amateur spacecraft tracker Daniel Estévez, Longjiang-2 will crash into the Moon on 31 July after more than a year in lunar orbit.

Accuracy Can Be Fun!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 01, 2019

Last week, designer Thomas Romer of Chop Shop Studio launched a Kickstarter to support the creation of a new product: Planetary Blocks. Emily Lakdawalla worked closely with Chop Shop to create an accurate and fun block set.

Curiosity Update, Sols 2313-2387: Two New Drill Holes Despite Memory Problems

Emily Lakdawalla • April 25, 2019

The Curiosity team is touring Glen Torridon, the Valley of Clay, south of Vera Rubin Ridge, happily photographing everything and zapping rocks. It’s clearly a delight for the team to be in a place they’ve been hoping to reach for 7 years.

InSight Detects Some Very Small Marsquakes

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2019

InSight has finally detected its first Marsquakes, but so far, none have been large enough to produce good science. Still, it’s great news that the seismometer is producing sensible data.

First Science Results from Hayabusa2 Mission

Emily Lakdawalla • April 01, 2019

The Hayabusa2 team held a press briefing last week at LPSC to report newly published results on asteroid Ryugu.

The March Equinox Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2019

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of the March Equinox issue of The Planetary Report: “Inside the Ice Giants.” The print issue shipped to members yesterday!

InSight Update, Sol 92: The Mole Did Hit a Rock

Emily Lakdawalla • March 01, 2019

The HP3 mole started hammering itself today, and almost immediately (after just 5 minutes) appears to have encountered a rock. No matter; they'll try again Saturday.

Fun With a New Data Set: The OSIRIS-REx Earth Flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • February 28, 2019

The OSIRIS-REx team recently issued their first data release to the Planetary Data System. This release doesn’t include any closeup pictures of asteroid Bennu, but it does include all the pictures they took during their September 2017 Earth flyby.

InSight update, sols 43-83: Instrument placement complete

Emily Lakdawalla • February 20, 2019

InSight has placed its second science instrument on the ground and set it free. Now it's time to bury the heat probe in the soil.

Touchdown for InSight's Heat Probe

Emily Lakdawalla • February 12, 2019

InSight has gone two for two, placing the second of its instruments gently on the Martian ground.

Looking Back at MU69

Emily Lakdawalla • February 08, 2019

A crescent view of MU69 reveals its bizarre shape. Let's look at lots of other fun-shaped space crescents.

Curiosity Update, Sols 2257-2312: Drilling at Rock Hall and Arrival at the Valley of Clay

Emily Lakdawalla • February 06, 2019

Curiosity completed work at Vera Rubin Ridge with an easy drilling activity at Rock Hall. Now it has finally driven on to mineral-rick rocks that were seen from orbit, long before Curiosity arrived. The team plans a lengthy traverse of the clay-bearing unit.

InSight Milestone: Wind and Thermal Shield Placed Sol 66

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2019

InSight mission has successfully placed the wind and thermal shield over the seismometer. The seismometer will now be shielded from winds and kept warm over the cold Martian nights, so the quality of its data should dramatically increase.

Why are there no stars in most space images?

Emily Lakdawalla • January 28, 2019

Look up at space at night from a dark location and you can see innumerable stars. Why, then, do photos of so many things in space show black space, devoid of stars?

A few new images of MU69

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2019

New Horizons is back in action after going quiet for a period of solar conjunction following the 1 January flyby of 2014 MU69 (informally nicknamed "Ultima Thule"). The spacecraft is returning new data, as exemplified by these images.

InSight Update, sols 25-42: Seismometer sensors working!

Emily Lakdawalla • January 09, 2019

Engineers have leveled the seismometer and made progress on adjusting the position of the tether so that it doesn't interfere for the experiment. Most significantly for the mission, they have balanced the Very Broad Band sensors -- 3 of SEIS’ 6 seismic sensors -- and confirmed that they are generating good data.

MU69 appears as a bi-lobed baby comet in latest New Horizons images

Emily Lakdawalla • January 02, 2019

The latest images downlinked from New Horizons show MU69 to be a textbook example of a contact binary. How do contact binaries form? Updated with images released on 3 January.

Happy New Year! The New Horizons flyby was successful!

Emily Lakdawalla • January 01, 2019

New Horizons has "phoned home" as expected, 4 hours after its closest approach to 2014 MU69. Its brief transmission contained no science data, but gave the scientists welcome news: New Horizons has successfully pulled off the most distant flyby ever.

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