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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!

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

Emily Lakdawalla • April 04, 2016 • 2

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.

LPSC 2016: So. Much. Ceres.

Emily Lakdawalla • March 30, 2016 • 13

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.

Looking Forward to the 2016 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Emily Lakdawalla • March 16, 2016 • 2

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • March 14, 2016 • 1

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.

Approaching Neptune

Emily Lakdawalla • March 11, 2016 • 2

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

ExoMars: Prepare for launch!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 10, 2016 • 5

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.

InSight has a new launch date: May 5, 2018

Emily Lakdawalla • March 09, 2016

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • March 08, 2016 • 27

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

Mars Express VMC is back online

Emily Lakdawalla • March 04, 2016

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • February 29, 2016 • 4

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.

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Emily Lakdwalla
The Planetary Fund

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