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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!

Looking Back at MU69

Emily Lakdawalla • February 08, 2019 • 1

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 • 1

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 • 1

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 • 6

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 • 4

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 • 2

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 • 8

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 • 2

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.

News brief: OSIRIS-REx arrives in orbit at Bennu

Emily Lakdawalla • December 31, 2018 • 1

Today at 19:43 UTC, OSIRIS-REx entered orbit at asteroid Bennu. In so doing, it accomplished both the tightest orbit (at an altitude under 2 kilometers) and the orbit of the smallest object ever. UPDATE: Early science results from OSIRIS-REx discussed at New Horizons MU69 flyby event.

New Horizons fast approaching 2014 MU69

Emily Lakdawalla • December 27, 2018 • 3

Unaffected by the shutdown of the U.S. government, New Horizons is still on course for its New Year’s encounter with 2014 MU69 (nicknamed “Ultima Thule”). This post collects the latest images from New Horizons' approach to the tiny Kuiper belt object and will be updated regularly.

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