Snapshots from Space
by Emily Lakdawalla
Follow the thrilling adventures of planetary missions, past and present, and see the stunningly beautiful photos that they return from space!
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Does Pluto have an ocean under its ice? If it doesn't now, did it ever have one? How will we know?
It seems like my attention wandered for just a moment, and all of a sudden Curiosity is really on the road. She's racked up drive after drive, methodically eating up the terrain between here and her goal: the ancient rocks at the foot of Mount Sharp.
They're too far apart to have a party, but today Curiosity and Opportunity could have rung in the New Mars Year. Today Mars reached a solar longitude of zero degrees and the Sun crossed Mars' equator, heralding the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere.
Last Thursday at the Pluto Science Conference there was a surprising and interesting talk by Amanda Zangari, who pointed out a serious problem with Pluto cartography.
The 2013 launch window for Mars is fast approaching. November represents the next chance to send spacecraft to the Red Planet; the next window doesn't open until early 2016. So NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are working hard to prepare their respective Mars missions for launch.
My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.
Here it is: the view from Saturn of our Earthly home, one and a half billion kilometers away. We see Earth and the Moon through a thin veil of faintly blue ice crystals, the outskirts of Saturn's E ring. Earth is just a bright dot -- a bit brighter than the other stars in the image, but no brighter than any planet (like Saturn!) in our own sky.