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Emily's Blog

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!

Emily Lakdawalla

Latest Blog Posts:

New views of three worlds: Ceres, Pluto, and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/16 03:17 CDT | 7 comments

New Horizons took its first color photo of Pluto and Charon, while Dawn obtained a 20-frame animation looking down on the north pole of a crescent Ceres.

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PROCYON update: Asteroid 2000 DP107 target selected, ion engine stopped

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/13 12:15 CDT | 3 comments

PROCYON (PRoximate Object Close flYby with Optical Navigation) is a microsatellite that launched on December 3 as a secondary payload with Hayabusa 2. The mission has now selected their asteroid flyby target -- a binary asteroid named 2000 DP107 -- but is reporting a problem with their ion engines.

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Curiosity update, sols 896-949: Telegraph Peak, Garden City, and concern about the drill

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/10 07:37 CDT | 1 comment

Since I last wrote about Curiosity drilling at Pink Cliffs, the rover has visited and studied two major sites, drilling at one of them. It has also suffered a short in the drill percussion mechanism that presents serious enough risk to warrant a moratorium on drill use until engineers develop a plan to continue to operate it safely.

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A moon with atmosphere

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/08 01:27 CDT | 10 comments

What is the solar system moon with the densest atmosphere? Most space fans know that the answer is Titan. A few of you might know that Triton's is the next densest. But what's the third? Fourth? Do any other moons even have atmospheres? In fact, they do; and one such atmosphere has just been discovered.

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Pretty Cassini pictures: animation of Iapetus' north pole, and other fun

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/03 04:35 CDT | 4 comments

Now that Cassini has returned to Saturn's equatorial plane, it has lots of opportunities to observe Saturn's moons. For about a week, Cassini has been taking regular sets of images of Iapetus, which I've assembled into an animation.

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LPSC 2015: MESSENGER's low-altitude campaign at Mercury

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/25 07:55 CDT | 3 comments

At last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, the MESSENGER team held a press briefing to share results from the recent few months of incredibly low-altitude flight over Mercury's surface. The mission will last only about five weeks more.

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Prometheus, Pandora, and the braided F ring in motion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/23 05:19 CDT

Cassini recently took a long, high-resolution movie of the F ring, catching a view of its ringlets, clumps, and streamers, and two potato-shaped moons, Prometheus and Pandora.

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LPSC 2015: First results from Dawn at Ceres: provisional place names and possible plumes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/19 06:29 CDT | 6 comments

Three talks on Tuesday at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference concerned the first results from Dawn at Ceres. Chris Russell showed a map of "quads" with provisional names on Ceres, Andreas Nathues showed that Ceres' bright spot might be an area of plume-like activity, and Francesca Zambon showed color and temperature variations across the dwarf planet.

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LPSC 2015: "Bloggers, please do not blog about this talk."

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/19 06:29 CDT | 4 comments

One presenter at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference asked the audience not to blog about his talk because of the embargo policy of Science and Nature. I show how this results from an incorrect interpretation of those policies. TL;DR: media reports on conference presentations do not violate Science and Nature embargo policies. Let people Tweet!

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LPSC 2015: Philae at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/18 04:05 CDT | 2 comments

In my first post from the 2015 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, I discuss the latest work on Philae images, and some cometary polymers.

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