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Snapshots from Space

by Emily Lakdawalla

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Emily Lakdawalla

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Follow the thrilling adventures of planetary missions, past and present, and see the stunningly beautiful photos that they return from space!

What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Emily Lakdawalla • December 31, 2013 • 4

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spies Chang'e 3 and Yutu

Emily Lakdawalla • December 30, 2013 • 4

As promised, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's sharp eyes spotted the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover on the lunar surface on December 25. The hardware shows up as a few bright pixels throwing long, dark shadows, clearly visible in a before-and-after comparison.

Hangout on Air Friday, December 27 14:00 UT: Student Astronaut 10th Reunion

Emily Lakdawalla • December 27, 2013

When Spirit and Opportunity landed in 2004, I was with the science team in charge of a group of high-school students called the Red Rover Goes to Mars Student Astronauts. We're coming up on the 10th anniversary of the landings -- what have those "kids" grown up into?

Chang'e 3 update with lots of pictures: Yutu begins lunar journey

Emily Lakdawalla • December 23, 2013 • 9

There was a lot of action on Chang'e 3 over the weekend! I have lots of pictures to share, including the highest-quality one I've seen of the rover on the surface, plus video of the rover making tracks on the Moon and a 3D view of the lander.

Book reviews: On habitable environments, and the rovers that explore them

Emily Lakdawalla • December 21, 2013 • 2

I've got some books to recommend on astrobiology, planet Earth and its living creatures, impact cratering, and Mars rovers.

Chang'e 3 and LADEE updates: Yutu active again, LADEE didn't detect landing

Emily Lakdawalla • December 20, 2013 • 3

Chinese state television broadcast a display of a Chang'e 3 lander image; the Yutu rover is awake; and LADEE reports a surprising non-detection of the Chang'e 3 landing.

Book Review: Alien Seas, and so much more

Emily Lakdawalla • December 19, 2013

Alien Seas is ostensibly a book about "oceans in space," but it delivers so much more. The slender volume contains essays by many active planetary scientists who also happen to be excellent writers, each one of them playing a different riff on the idea of oceans in different environments in the solar system.

Chang'e 3 update: 6 instruments active, new fan-produced landing video

Emily Lakdawalla • December 17, 2013 • 28

Today there was a lengthy press briefing by several members of the Chang'e 3 science team. A complete transcript was posted in Chinese. I have run it through two machine translators and found it to be quite informative, not just about the mission but also about attitudes about Chinese space exploration and foreign cooperation. I also have a cool fan-produced video to share.

Conversations with an interplanetary spacecraft: "Hi, Juno!"

Emily Lakdawalla • December 17, 2013 • 6

Juno's Earth flyby represented the first opportunity for many of the science instruments to be used on a planetary target. There were terrific photos of Earth and the Moon, plus a cool project to see if Juno could detect intelligent life on Earth.

Amazing Chang'e 3 descent video

Emily Lakdawalla • December 15, 2013 • 8

Watch and enjoy this full video of Chang'e 3's descent onto the lunar surface.

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