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Blogs

Guest blogs from 2013

Field Report From Mars: Sol 3519 - December 18, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 11:55 CST

Opportunity arrived at the location that has been the target of all this climbing since late last (Earth) summer. We will settle in for some detailed work on the outcrop here since this appears to be something different from the impact breccias that we have been seeing along the ridge crest.

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The Mercury Transit You Probably Missed

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/12/30 10:29 CST | 2 comments

Planetary transits of the Sun by Mercury and Venus don't come along very often, and when they do we make a big deal of it because, well, it's really cool!

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Snow balls in space

Posted by Mike Brown on 2013/12/29 02:45 CST | 4 comments

I don’t get much snow in southern California, but I do spend a lot of my time thinking about college snowball experiences and about the snowball fights that have made the objects of the outer solar system.

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Asteroid Minerva finds its magical weapons in the sky

Posted by Franck Marchis on 2013/12/26 11:48 CST

The International Astronomical Union has chosen the names Aegis and Gorgoneion for the two moons of the asteroid (93) Minerva. We decided to crowd-source the names, catching the attention of the public. Over the following year, I received a lot of emails with suggestions

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Habitability, Taphonomy, and Curiosity's Hunt for Organic Carbon

Posted by John Grotzinger on 2013/12/21 08:47 CST | 4 comments

Lots of people ask questions about how the Curiosity mission, and future missions, will forge ahead to begin with looking for evidence of past life on Mars. There is nothing simple or straightforward about looking for life.

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NASA re-creates the Apollo 8 Earthrise using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data

Posted by Andrew Chaikin on 2013/12/20 02:20 CST | 1 comment

If there's one thing I've learned after decades of studying the first human voyages to another world, it's that there is always more to discover about Apollo. Case in point: The Apollo 8 Earthrise photo that became one of the iconic images of the 20th century.

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Curiosity update, sols 465-487: Wheel inspection, software upgrade, Cumberland dump

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/12/19 01:39 CST

Curiosity activities over sols 465 to 487 included monitoring the condition of the wheels; a flight software upgrade; and dumping the Cumberland drill sample. Curiosity put approximately 200 meters on the odometer during this period.

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Destination: Europa!

Posted by Steve Vance on 2013/12/16 01:36 CST | 5 comments

It's time to reassess Europa exploration, past, present and future. The Destination Europa! session at AGU, inspired by the eponymous website and movement, didn't take exactly that message as its theme, but it's what I got from the presentations. What an ELECTRIFYING meeting this has been for Europa exploration!

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A Tale of Two Posters: Sediment on Mars and Searching Jupiter's Rings

Posted by Mark Hilverda on 2013/12/12 07:39 CST

A close look at two international planetary science poster presentations from the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting featuring sediment experiments to better understand Martian geomorphology and Juno's plans for exploring Jupiter's ring system.

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The Plumes of Europa

Posted by Leigh Fletcher on 2013/12/12 12:01 CST | 12 comments

2013 has been a rather exciting year for Europa scientists. Today's exciting news: the Hubble Space Telescope discovery of water vapor plumes from the south pole of this icy moon.

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The Mariner Mars Globe

Posted by Don Davis on 2013/11/29 12:04 CST | 3 comments

In 1971 I was being trained to work with the airbrush by the map artists at the U.S. Geological Survey's Branch of Astrogeologic Studies in Flagstaff. However, the project I ended up spending about a quarter of a man-year on was a hand-painted map globe of Mars.

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Schrödinger's Comet

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/28 09:54 CST | 9 comments

After impressing us yesterday, comet ISON faded dramatically overnight, and left us with a comet with no apparent nucleus in the SOHO/LASCO C2 images. As the comet plunged through the solar atmosphere, and failed to put on a show in the SDO images, we understandably concluded that ISON had succumbed to its passage and died a fiery death. Except it didn't. Well, maybe...

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Comet ISON: Your Half-time Report

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/26 10:04 CST | 1 comment

I am heading out to Kitt Peak to join my fellow CIOC-ers Matthew and Casey for perihelion observations of Comet ISON, and I find myself having an early moment of reflection.

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Curiosity update, sols 453-464: Electrical problem causes delays; rover back to work

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/11/25 02:38 CST | 1 comment

An electrical problem frustrated progress on the Curiosity mission this week, but the problem is now understood and the rover back to work.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3494 - November 21, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/11/22 05:39 CST | 4 comments

On sol 3485 Opportunity pulled up next to a large outcrop here on the rim of Endeavour crater. The outcrop appears to be impact breccias like those we saw a few sols ago lower down on the ridge. But the texture of the rocks is somewhat different.

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Call Your Representatives, Save Our Science

Posted by Andrew Rivkin on 2013/11/22 10:56 CST | 1 comment

I called one of my Senators earlier today. Before that I called my representative. It was pretty easy.

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ISON, Encke, Mercury, and Home

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/22 10:04 CST | 3 comments

Comet ISON has entered the field of view of the STEREO HI-1A camera, and, in an awesome animation, it joins a large cast of characters already present there.

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Comet ISON Enters the Final Countdown

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/19 03:12 CST | 6 comments

We're now less than two weeks away from comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) reaching perihelion and, if we’re honest, we are still none the wiser as to how the situation might play out!

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MAVEN Launches!

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2013/11/18 04:56 CST | 4 comments

MAVEN launched flawlessly and pretty much exactly on schedule. Congratulations to NASA, the MAVEN team, and United Launch Alliance for a picture perfect launch!

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MAVEN NASA Social: Day 2

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2013/11/18 04:34 CST | 1 comment

Bright and early this morning, we NASA Social folks met at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex for a tour of the space shuttle Atlantis. This is the first shuttle I've seen in person, and it was a stunning sight to see.

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MAVEN NASA Social: Day 1

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2013/11/17 09:00 CST

I am at the MAVEN launch at Kennedy Space Center for a "NASA Social" event. These events are geared towards space enthusiasts of all backgrounds who are active on social media to increase public awareness and excitement about NASA.

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Curiosity Update: A stop at Cooperstown and a warm reset, sols 433-451

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/11/14 01:56 CST

Having racked up several kilometers in the drive to Mount Sharp, Curiosity paused for a second science stop at an outcrop called "Cooperstown." While there, the rover performed a software upgrade and then lost a few days to a software anomaly. The rover has now resumed normal science operations.

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ARTEMIS Mission Update

Posted by Jasper S. Halekas on 2013/11/14 12:27 CST

ARTEMIS is a mission that retasked two probes from the 5-spacecraft Heliophysics constellation THEMIS to study the interaction of the Moon with the space plasma environment.

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Neptune: The new amateur boundary?

Posted by Christophe Pellier on 2013/11/07 05:39 CST | 3 comments

Can features on Neptune be observed by amateur astronomers? For years, the Hubble Space Telescope and some professional terrestrial observatories have been revealing incomplete belts and spots on the surface of Neptune. Now, spots have been imaged by amateurs.

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The solar eclipse in Africa seen from space

Posted by Vitaliy Egorov on 2013/11/05 11:35 CST

On Sunday, the shadow of the Moon passed across Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. This was the last solar eclipse of the year. The Elektro-L satellite was able to observe the eclipse, and we can see the darkness of the lunar shadow covering Africa.

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Creating Life on a Gas Giant
On "Hunters, Floaters, Sinkers" from Cosmos

Posted by Adolf Schaller on 2013/11/02 04:29 CDT | 4 comments

Adolf Schaller, an artist on the original Cosmos series, shares his experience of creating the painting, "Hunters, Floaters, and Sinkers" from Episode 2, which speculates about the possible life living in the turbulent atmosphere of a gas-giant planet.

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Why does ISON look green?

Posted by Matthew Knight on 2013/10/29 12:23 CDT

You may have noticed that Comet ISON appears to have a green halo in some recent images, but in other images acquired at about the same time, it doesn’t. Thanks to the beautiful new spectrum posted earlier today by Christian Buil, it’s relatively easy to understand why.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3467 - October 24, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/10/28 08:16 CDT | 1 comment

On sol 3451 Opportunity began its climb of Solander Point. This is the highest “mountain” that Opportunity has tried to climb yet.

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The Planetary Society takes on Canada

Posted by Kate Howells on 2013/10/28 06:57 CDT | 4 comments

The Planetary Society’s work beyond the United States is still not nearly as extensive as it is in the Society’s home country. But we are making some huge steps towards changing that, starting with Canada – America’s neighbor, NASA’s partner, and the home of almost eighteen hundred Planetary Society members.

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The Autumn Equinox 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is out!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2013/10/25 07:39 CDT | 17 comments

The Autumn Equinox 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is hot off the presses and is in the mail.

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Curiosity update: Roving through the shutdown toward Waypoint 2, sols 388-432

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/10/23 02:57 CDT | 1 comment

After a brief science stop at Darwin (formerly known as Waypoint 1), Curiosity has driven hundreds of meters toward Mount Sharp. Autumn has come to Curiosity's southern hemisphere location, bringing lower temperatures. That means more power is required to heat rover actuators, leaving less power for science along the drive.

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How I Gave My Preschool Class Mars Fever

Posted by Emily Cotman on 2013/10/18 11:58 CDT | 8 comments

It all started when we read a book called, There's Nothing to Do on Mars, by Chris Gall. And then something wonderful happened.

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Uranus Awaits

Posted by Geraint Jones on 2013/10/18 11:23 CDT | 3 comments

It’s been a long time since anyone paid Uranus a visit. The Uranus system is, however, fascinating, as evidenced by the wealth of topics covered by the diverse group of planetary scientists who gathered to discuss it last week at the Paris Observatory.

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On space kindness and the Chelyabinsk meteor

Posted by Vitaliy Egorov on 2013/10/04 07:04 CDT | 1 comment

Through an act of kindness, we now have images of the Chelyabinsk meteor trail from Russia's Elektro-L satellite.

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I cannot volunteer my time to work on NASA business during the furlough

Posted by Les Johnson on 2013/10/03 11:55 CDT | 9 comments

Today I received my furlough notice from NASA. Since my job isn’t considered “excepted,” in other words, since no one will be injured or die if I don’t report for work, then I am to remain at home until recalled to work after the Congress passes and the President signs some sort of budget or continuing resolution to keep the government running.

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Women scientists: Tell Your Story and Inspire Others in Astronomy

Posted by Hadiza Mohammed on 2013/10/01 04:06 CDT | 2 comments

Women Rock Science is working with the Knowledge Observatory to create an interactive display of women in astronomy from all over the world for an upcoming science festival.

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Gravity assist

Posted by David Shortt on 2013/09/27 01:30 CDT | 15 comments

With the recent announcement by NASA that the 36 year-old spacecraft Voyager 1 has officially entered interstellar space at a distance from the sun about four times further than Neptune's orbit, and with Voyager 2 not far behind, it seems worthwhile to explore how humans managed to fling objects so far into space.

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Cometary Science at EPSC

Posted by Geraint Jones on 2013/09/26 05:02 CDT

Recently, almost a thousand researchers gathered in London for Europe’s annual meeting of planetary scientists. Here's a report from one session on cometary science.

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Bill Nye 'Dancing With the Stars' Update

Posted by Abigail Fraeman on 2013/09/25 01:52 CDT

We're two weeks in to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ season 17, and Bill Nye has shown that, true to his TV-theme song lyric, "science rules" in the eyes of the audience.

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Voyager: A Tribute

Posted by Stephen J. Pyne on 2013/09/25 11:15 CDT | 2 comments

The Voyagers were special when they launched. They have become more so thanks to their longevity, the breadth of their discoveries, the cultural payload they carried, and the sheer audacity of their quest.

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Dawn on Mars: Waypoint 1 Mysteries

Posted by Dawn Sumner on 2013/09/24 06:38 CDT

Dawn Sumner describes the preparations for maximizing the science at Curiosity's short stop at "Waypoint 1" from sols 385 to 401.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3431 - September 18, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/09/18 11:27 CDT | 2 comments

On sol 3425 Opportunity "waded ashore" at Solander Point after crossing a sea of sand between here and Cape York. Cape York was an "island" remnant of the rim of Endeavour crater that Opportunity left back in May. Since then it has been driving south to the next largest and mountainous remnant of the crater rim, Solander Point.

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Working Together - Scientists & Historians, Professionals & Amateurs

Posted by Fran Bagenal on 2013/09/18 10:53 CDT

From October 6 to 11, two divisions of the American Astronomical Society - Planetary Science and History - are meeting together for a combined annual conference. There will be several opportunities for the public to participate: a free public talk, several webcast lectures, a special online event for the Juno flyby of Earth, and a pro-am workshop on how amateur astronomers can contribute to planetary science.

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Curiosity update: AutoNav toward Mount Sharp, sols 373-383

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/09/05 02:49 CDT

From sols 373 to 383 (August 23 to September 3, 2013), Curiosity traveled about 250 meters toward Mount Sharp over five drives, trying out her new AutoNav capability.

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Bill Nye takes to the dance floor

Posted by Abigail Fraeman on 2013/09/04 11:51 CDT | 2 comments

It was announced this morning that Bill will be appearing as a contestant on the American hit show, “Dancing with the Stars”. I am so excited. "How will Bill fare?" you may ask. Consider the following...

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Mars, Old and New: A Personal View by Bruce Murray

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2013/09/03 06:07 CDT | 1 comment

An interview with Bruce Murray from 2001 about his perspectives on Mars science and exploration: past, present, and future.

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Bruce Murray (1931-2013)

Posted by Louis D. FriedmanCharlene Anderson on 2013/08/29 11:32 CDT | 53 comments

One of the most remarkable minds of 20th century exploration was stilled this morning, August 29, 2013, when Bruce C. Murray died of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 81. The Planetary Society owes its existence to Bruce.

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Probing Titan's Atmosphere

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2013/08/26 03:14 CDT | 11 comments

By now I hope that everyone has seen some of the spectacular images of the Saturn system (and especially Titan!) from the Cassini-Huygens mission. However, the measurements that often make my heart race are taken by instruments that reveal Titan in ways that our eyes cannot see.

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New Horizons: Late in Cruise, and a Binary Ahoy

Posted by Alan Stern on 2013/08/24 09:16 CDT | 2 comments

New Horizons has just completed a summer of intensive activities and entered hibernation on Aug. 20. The routine parts of the activities included thorough checkouts of all our backup systems (result: they work fine!) and of all our scientific instruments (they work fine too!).

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Updates on Curiosity from Ken Herkenhoff: Embarking for Mount Sharp (sols 326-372)

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2013/08/23 12:07 CDT | 1 comment

United States Geological Survey scientist Ken Herkenhoff posts regular updates on the Curiosity science team's plans for the rover on Mars.

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Producing global views of Vesta from archival data

Posted by Björn Jónsson on 2013/08/21 12:18 CDT | 3 comments

Björn Jónsson produces beautiful color and 3D global mosaics of Vesta from Dawn's archival data.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3397 - August 13, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/08/18 11:06 CDT | 1 comment

Opportunity arrived at the base of the next segment of the Endeavour crater rim and is now investigating the contact.

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Comet ISON lives on! (we think...)

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/08/13 01:31 CDT | 1 comment

For several weeks now, ground-based observers have been blind to Comet ISON as our local star was sitting directly between us and the comet. I am delighted to share two pieces of good news: first, that ISON is still alive and well, and secondly that it has been recovered.

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Interplanetary eyes on the lookout for comet ISON

Posted by Daniel Fischer on 2013/08/09 02:15 CDT

Space blogger Daniel Fischer provides a preview of the exciting interplanetary observing campaign that has recently begun to study comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) from vantage points across the solar system.

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Beautiful science by Elektro-L

Posted by Vitaliy Egorov on 2013/08/08 03:54 CDT | 7 comments

Six months ago, I wrote about the Russian weather satellite Elektro-L, which has more than two years of successful experience in the geostationary orbit. Then I promised that I would be here to share the materials that we collected. I think it's time to deliver on the promise.

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Mysterious tides in the Martian atmosphere

Posted by Armin Kleinboehl on 2013/08/07 03:49 CDT | 1 comment

Observations made by the Mars Climate Sounder, an instrument aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, have revealed new information about atmospheric tides on the Red Planet.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3385 - August 2, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/08/06 06:54 CDT

This week Opportunity finished up a quick investigation of the strange rocky terrain out here in the plains where it is approaching the next mountain rim segment of Endeavour crater, Solander Point.

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Jupiter and Io from Pioneer 10

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2013/08/02 04:25 CDT | 2 comments

This is a parting shot of Jupiter and Io, taken December 5, 1973, by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, the first to see either world as a crescent.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3378 - July 25, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/26 12:32 CDT

We are now only about 180 meters from the new mountain, Solander Point. We slowed down this week so that we could check out the rocks here where there is a strange hydration signature from orbital remote sensing.

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Should National Rivalries Still Drive U.S. Space Policy?

Posted by Lori Dajose on 2013/07/25 02:37 CDT | 5 comments

The House recently passed a NASA Authorization Bill that called for "American astronauts launching from American rockets on American soil". If we depend on international collaboration, should these policies still drive NASA policy?

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3363 - July 10, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/18 01:41 CDT | 1 comment

Opportunity is only a couple of hundred meters out and closing fast on the next mountain. A short side trip east is in the works to check out an anomaly in the terrain.

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Dunes on Tatooine

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2013/07/17 01:13 CDT

The fictional world Tatooine, scene of action in the Star Wars movies, is named after a town in Tunisia, where parts of the movies were filmed. The desert backdrops against which the movies were filmed are real terrestrial landscapes, which prove to be perhaps unexpectedly dynamic.

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Programmable Mars Watch for $50

Posted by Ara Kourchians on 2013/07/11 06:00 CDT

Time is kept differently on Mars. This is because Mars itself rotates a little slower than Earth. This proves to be a pain when it comes to timekeeping.

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The Summer Solstice 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is out!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2013/07/09 06:30 CDT | 5 comments

I’m happy to tell you that the Summer Solstice 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is hot off the presses and Is in the mail.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3355 - July 2, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/07/08 06:04 CDT

By Sol 3325 Opportunity has driven up onto the next "island" of rock, "Sutherland Point" and "Nobbys Head." On this sol Opportunity is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.

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How radar really works: The steps involved before getting an image

Posted by Alessondra Springmann on 2013/06/24 02:10 CDT | 3 comments

Arecibo Observatory is known for its 1000-foot diameter telescope and its appearances in Goldeneye and Contact. Aside from battling Bond villains and driving red diesel Jeeps around the telescope (grousing at the site director about the funding status of projects is optional), several hundred hours a year of telescope time at Arecibo go toward radar studies of asteroids.

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One Ocean World Among Many

Posted by Jim Bell on 2013/06/03 03:53 CDT | 6 comments

I'm absolutely floored when I stop to think that our beautiful blue ocean is only one of perhaps a half dozen or more oceans on other worlds in our solar system, and only one of probably millions (or more) oceans on other Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Oceans abound!

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3317- May 24, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/05/24 11:27 CDT

Opportunity finally started driving south from its location on the outcrop where it had been since solar conjunction.

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Asteroids – what you can do

Posted by Alex Karl on 2013/05/23 01:52 CDT | 2 comments

Partnering with our friends from The Planetary Society, the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), whose members hail from all over the globe, is bringing you an update on our activities and something you can join in on—at least if you are a student or young professional aged 18–35.

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Report from the Starship Century Conference: Tuesday

Posted by Jon Lomberg on 2013/05/22 06:54 CDT | 5 comments

This week Jon Lomberg is attending the Starship Century conference, which brings together scientists, writers, and futurists to imagine the future of interstellar travel. Here he reports on presentations by Freeman Dyson, Peter Schwartz, Robert Zubrin, Geoff Landis, Neal Stephenson, and Patti Grace Smith.

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Report from the Starship Century Conference: Monday

Posted by Jon Lomberg on 2013/05/21 10:42 CDT | 11 comments

This week Jon Lomberg is attending the Starship Century conference, which brings together scientists, writers, and futurists to imagine the future of interstellar travel. The organizers are Greg and Jim Benford, and among the attendees are: David Brin, Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge, Joe Haldeman, Alan Steele, Geoffrey Landis, Freeman Dyson, Jill Tarter, Paul Davies, Nalaka Gunawardene, and Daniel Richter.

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New Horizons: Encounter Planning Accelerates

Posted by Alan Stern on 2013/05/17 10:18 CDT | 4 comments

Back in 2005 and 2006, when Pluto’s second and third moons (Nix and Hydra) were discovered, searches by astronomers for still more moons didn’t reveal any. So the accidental discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon by the Hubble Space Telescope in mid-2011 raised the possibility that the hazards in the Pluto system might be greater than previously anticipated.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3310- May 17, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/05/17 11:27 CDT

Opportunity has finally completed the detailed survey of the outcrops on the Cape York segment of the rim of the 22-km diameter Endeavour crater.

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Connecting scientist mentors with students who have the desire to learn

Posted by Caleph Wilson on 2013/05/16 02:38 CDT | 9 comments

Caleph Wilson provides examples and guidance to scientists wishing to mentor students in science, technology, engineering, and math outreach programs.

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Doing a science on Titan

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2013/05/15 11:55 CDT | 12 comments

A tale from the scientific trenches: laboratory work to simulate Titan's rich atmosphere.

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2011 HM102: A new companion for Neptune

Posted by Alex Parker on 2013/04/30 04:20 CDT | 2 comments

This month my latest paper made it to print in the Astronomical Journal. It's a short piece that describes a serendipitous discovery that my collaborators and I made while searching for a distant Kuiper Belt Object for the New Horizons spacecraft to visit after its 2015 Pluto flyby.

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Cutting NASA's Education and Public Outreach Efforts Now Is Short-sighted and Counterproductive

Posted by Lars Perkins on 2013/04/26 04:45 CDT | 4 comments

Lars Perkins, Chairman of NAC's Education Committee, writes a defense of NASA's Education and Outreach efforts, currently facing a major cut and restructuring in 2014.

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Australia comes of age in the satellite world

Posted by Michele Bannister on 2013/04/15 04:56 CDT | 1 comment

On April 9, the current Australian government announced the first formal Australian space policy. Astronomy graduate student Michele Bannister explains what this means for the country.

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Russia's Mars 3 lander maybe found by Russian amateurs

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/04/12 01:22 CDT | 4 comments

Виталий Егоров (Vitaliy Egorov) is a Russian space enthusiast who enlisted help of fellow enthusiasts to search for -- and maybe find -- the Russian Mars 3 hardware on the Martian surface. Here he explains how he did it.

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April 12, 2013: Yuri’s Night Rocks the Planet!!!

Posted by Danielle Hannah on 2013/04/04 03:15 CDT | 2 comments

On April 12, 2013, the world’s biggest space party will take place across the globe. So far there are 190 parties in 32 countries on 6 continents registered and counting!!

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LPSC 2013: Seeing in Permanent Shadow

Posted by Michael Poston on 2013/04/03 01:21 CDT | 1 comment

The case for water ice hidden in permanently shadowed regions at the north pole of the planet Mercury received another boost recently. On Wednesday March 20, 2013 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Nancy Chabot presented the very first visible-light images of what is in the shadows of these polar craters.

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Field Report From Mars: Sols 3237-3262 - March 4–29, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/03/29 11:27 CDT

Flash memory or computer problems oddly occurred on both Curiosity and Opportunity around Feb 27. One possibility is that a large solar flare resulted in radiation at Mars sufficient to temporarily corrupt the memory on both rovers.

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The March Equinox 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is out!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2013/03/15 07:18 CDT | 2 comments

I’m happy to tell you that the March Equinox 2013 issue of The Planetary Report is hot off the presses and will begin mailing next week.

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Comet PANSTARRS from the other side of the Sun!

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/03/14 05:21 CDT | 8 comments

Comet PANSTARRS is delighting northern hemisphere viewers right now. But it's also big, bright, and beautiful to the STEREO spacecraft.

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Sea Salt

Posted by Mike Brown on 2013/03/06 10:41 CST | 3 comments

Ever wonder what it would taste like if you could lick the icy surface of Jupiter’s Europa? The answer may be that it would taste a lot like that last mouthful of water that you accidentally drank when you were swimming at the beach on your last vacation.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3220-3236 - March 1, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/03/01 10:27 CST

Opportunity completed the observations of the outcrop noted in the previous report and has now moved back down slope.

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Mysterious Umbriel

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2013/02/28 12:59 CST | 1 comment

Presenting a newly-processed version of Voyager 2's best images of Uranus' moon Umbriel.

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Observing 2012 DA14

Posted by Edward Gomez on 2013/02/18 05:14 CST | 4 comments

Mostly the Universe stays unchanged for hundreds, thousands or even millions of years. There are some cases however when some things change really rapidly. Recently I observed one of these rapidly changing, transient phenomena, as asteroid called 2012 DA14. I work for Las Cumbres Observatory and we have been trying to observe this asteroid since 5 February.

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What We Know About the Russian Meteor Event [UPDATED]
We have the technology to provide warning about these potential disasters

Posted by Heidi Hammel on 2013/02/15 02:26 CST | 22 comments

Preliminary estimates show that the meteoroid was 15 meters wide and weighed roughly 8000 tons. The resulting airburst would have the equivalent yield of about a 1/2 megaton explosion.

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An evening that brought me very close to Curiosity

Posted by Damia Bouic on 2013/02/15 09:00 CST | 3 comments

Damien Bouic received some well-deserved recognition from the Chemcam team for his great Curiosity image processing work.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3215-3219 - February 6-13, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/02/13 10:27 CST

We have been seeing lots of small light-colored veins crossing through the outcrops here on Matijevic Hill, and we have tried to get a handle on the composition of these veins by doing multiple offsets with the APXS. It appears that the small veins are calcium sulfate, as best we can determine.

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Saturn's Hexagon Viewed from the Ground

Posted by Leigh Fletcher on 2013/02/01 05:49 CST | 2 comments

For the first time, amateur astronomers are capturing spectacular images of Saturn's bizarre north polar hexagon.

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Introducing PlanetFour

Posted by Ganna (Anya) Portyankina on 2013/01/23 11:51 CST | 3 comments

The Mars I study is really active; the surface constantly changes. We have collected a lot of image data about changing seasonal features near the south pole. There is so much that we can't analyze all of it on our own. We need your help, through a new Zooniverse project named PlanetFour.

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Voyager 1 revisited: Io and Europa transiting Jupiter

Posted by Björn Jónsson on 2013/01/22 06:04 CST

What is the highest resolution global Jupiter mosaic that includes a satellite transit that can be assembled from Voyager images? Satellite transits are especially beautiful when the resolution is high enough for some details to be visible on the satellites so I decided to check this. And I was remarkably lucky.

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The Planetary Report, volume 32, number 4: The Year in Pictures

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2013/01/18 05:03 CST

For those of you Planetary Society members who like your copy of The Planetary Report served up in pixels, the December Solstice 2012 issue is ready and waiting for you.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3182-3188 - January 6-11, 2013

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/01/11 10:27 CST

We finished up with examination of the big outcrop ("Copper Cliff") and moved to the next target over the weekend. With that drive Opportunity completed the loop around Matijevic Hill and is now back where it started on the big loop to examine the outcrops.

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Can you find a new planet?

Posted by Martin Still on 2013/01/07 12:35 CST | 1 comment

A change in the Kepler data delivery process provides both scientists and the public to get involved in planet discovery.

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Who is the photographer behind Mars rover photos? Answer from Jim Bell

Posted by Jim Bell on 2013/01/02 11:40 CST | 1 comment

Another Mars imaging scientist answers the question: who is the "photographer" behind images returned from Mars?

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