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Blogs

Guest blogs from 2014

8th Mars Report: Martian habitability

Posted by Valerie Fox on 2014/07/30 01:22 CDT | 6 comments

Valerie Fox reports from the 8th International Conference on Mars on the habitability of the Red Planet.

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8th Mars Report: Was Ancient Mars Warm and Wet or Cold and Icy?

Posted by Abigail Fraeman on 2014/07/29 02:08 CDT | 3 comments

One of the hot topics of the 8th International Conference on Mars was the nature of Mars' ancient past. Abigail Fraeman reports on our updated view of whether Mars was ever warm and wet.

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The Osirian Asteroid Family

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/07/28 02:04 CDT

The asteroid community recently gathered in Helsinki, Finland for the 12th Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors Conference. As this meeting showed, one of the hottest topics in asteroid science is the study of asteroid families.

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Pretty pictures of the Cosmos: Perception

Posted by Adam Block on 2014/07/25 12:04 CDT | 2 comments

Astrophotographer Adam Block shares two recent images of star clusters, along with a pair of depth perception-defying galaxies.

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Standing on Venus in 1975

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/07/24 10:19 CDT | 4 comments

Venera 9 and 10 landed on Venus in 1975 and sent back the first images of the planet's surface. Now, Ted Stryk brings new life to these images to show us what it would be like to stand on the Venusian surface.

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One Day on Mars

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/07/21 08:03 CDT | 3 comments

A single day's observations take us from orbital overviews all the way down to ground truth.

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Mars and Europa: Contrasts in Mission Planning

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/07/19 02:08 CDT | 30 comments

Several announcements for proposed missions to Mars and on the planning for a NASA return to Europa that highlight the contrasts in planning missions for these two high priority destinations.

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A right old comet kerfuffle…

Posted by Stuart Atkinson on 2014/07/18 12:02 CDT | 16 comments

A European space enthusiast, children's author, and volunteer astronomy outreach worker asks for more images from Rosetta.

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How Arecibo Observatory Transmits to the ISEE-3 Spacecraft

Posted by Alessondra Springmann on 2014/07/16 03:51 CDT | 1 comment

Talking to spacecraft is a normal occurrence at Arecibo Observatory, but sometimes the nuts and bolts are a little unconventional.

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Trundling Across the Moon

Posted by Mark Robinson on 2014/07/11 12:01 CDT | 1 comment

High resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera detail the 1973 path of the Soviet rover Lunokhod 2.

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Voyager 3 Project

Posted by Peter Rosén on 2014/07/08 02:15 CDT | 3 comments

In 1979, the Voyager 1 probe took a stunning series of images on its final approach to Jupiter. Thirty-five years later, almost to the day, a group of seven Swedish amateur astronomers set out to replicate this odyssey, but with images taken with their own ground-based telescopes.

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The Habitable Zone of Inhabited Planets

Posted by Jaime Green on 2014/07/07 03:14 CDT | 10 comments

A team of Colombian researchers are arguing for a new refinement to the idea of the habitable zone that takes the presence of life itself into account.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Nears End of Murray Ridge, Pillinger Point Christened
Sols 3680-3709

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/07/03 03:44 CDT | 6 comments

Opportunity got off to a bumpy start in June, but the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission pressed on, continuing the exploration of Murray Ridge at the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

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Pretty pictures of the Cosmos: Interacting galaxies

Posted by Adam Block on 2014/07/02 10:27 CDT

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block showcases some of his stunning images of what happens when galaxies get a little too close to each other.

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Dawn Journal: HAMO at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/07/01 11:34 CDT | 9 comments

Dawn's chief engineer and mission director Marc Rayman gives an overview of the plan for the penultimate orbital phase at Ceres, the “high altitude mapping orbit” (HAMO).

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3705 – June 27, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/06/30 07:30 CDT

Opportunity has left the winter haven and is still driving south along the rim of Endeavour crater, currently exploring an outcrop a few meters from crater rim.

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Of Rings and Resolution

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/06/23 09:36 CDT | 3 comments

Seeing Saturn before and after Cassini.

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One Number, Two Budgets
The Senate and House have both agreed to increase NASA's budget to $17.9B, but they have very different ways of spending that money

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/17 01:03 CDT | 2 comments

The Senate and House have both agreed to increase NASA's budget to $17.9 billion, but they have very different ways of spending that money. The House bill would add additional funding to almost every category of the Planetary Science budget and would greatly strengthen NASA’s program of planetary exploration. The Senate bill would add substantial funds to the Mars program but pay for this by cuts to other portions of the planetary budget.

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The OSIRIS-REx Design Reference Mission

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/12 06:18 CDT

This week the OSIRIS-REx team gathered at the Lockheed Martin facility in Denver to perform a “Design Reference Mission (DRM)” walkthrough. The DRM is basically the battle plan for OSIRIS-REx for accomplishing our goal of returning pristine samples from asteroid Bennu.

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A Checkup on Future Mars Missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/09 04:59 CDT | 3 comments

NASA’s Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG) recently reviewed plans by Europe, the Japanese, and NASA for future Mars exploration. The prognosis is for another exciting decade of Mars exploration.

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Pretty pictures of the Cosmos

Posted by Adam Block on 2014/06/06 03:01 CDT

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares some of his recent work.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Hunts Ancient Clays along Murray Ridge
Sols 3650-3680

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/06/05 10:11 CDT

At the western rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity spent the month of May exploring a new clayground along Murray Ridge and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission trundled into the 125th month of what was originally to be a short, 3-month tour.

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The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun!

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/06/05 09:54 CDT

The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun! Seeing the core structure being assembled demonstrated that OSIRIS-REx is no longer just a set of drawings and PowerPoint charts, it is starting to become a real spacecraft.

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Tracks in the Wilderness

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/06/03 11:17 CDT

Pioneer trails extend all the way to Mars.

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Dawn Journal: Survey Orbit at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/06/03 09:59 CDT | 2 comments

This month Dawn's mission director Marc Rayman continues the preview of how Dawn will explore Ceres, this time in its survey orbit.

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Ongoing Adventure

Posted by Samuel Lawrence on 2014/05/29 06:16 CDT | 4 comments

A few people think that when it comes to the Moon, because we’ve “been there, and done that,” there is nothing new left to discover. But that viewpoint could not be farther from the truth!

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Planetary Society Canada Update

Posted by Kate Howells on 2014/05/28 06:33 CDT

Canadian National Coordinator Kate Howells provides an update on the state of the Society's Canadian initiative.

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A GRB in M31...or not

Posted by Philip Evans on 2014/05/28 11:21 CDT

The Twittersphere has been alive with speculation about a Gamma Ray Burst in the nearby galaxy M31. The problem is, there was never a claim of such an event, and it turns out that the tentative result that triggered this story was overstated.

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Will we find signs of tectonics on Pluto? And what would that mean?

Posted by Joseph O'Rourke on 2014/05/26 09:45 CDT | 1 comment

Joseph O’Rourke summarizes a recently submitted paper on tectonic activity on Pluto after the Charon-forming impact.

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The value of a Guest Investigator program for Dawn

Posted by Anne Verbiscer on 2014/05/23 09:20 CDT | 1 comment

NASA selected 21 Participating Scientists to join the Dawn team in 2010, prior to Dawn's arrival at Vesta in 2011. Since that time, Dawn Participating Scientists have made enormous contributions to the mission, as they do for most other NASA missions. But the status of a Participating Scientist program for Dawn at Ceres has been in doubt.

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A Reluctant Dance Towards Europa
or, Why A Credible Europa Mission is Likely to Cost ~$2B

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/05/14 12:42 CDT | 15 comments

For the last two years, NASA has been the shy partner refusing to get on the dance floor, and Congress has been the aggressive partner insisting on a dance now. Recently, NASA has said maybe on another night but only if it’s a cheap date. While NASA says no for now, Congress looks to be willing to slip the band a cool $100M – on top of $150M already paid – to keep the music playing, but (to keep the metaphor going) has not been willing to fully commit itself to paying the bigger bill to rent the dance hall. The dance, of course, is the continuing attempt by Congress to have NASA commit to a mission to explore Europa, and NASA’s attempts to delay a mission well into the 2020s.

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The Case of the 5-Millisecond Cosmic Radio Burst

Posted by Katherine Mack on 2014/05/14 10:49 CDT

Everyone loves a good mystery. In astronomy, there is nothing more exciting than an unexplained signal.

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What’s Seeping on Mars? Recurring Slope Lineae

Posted by Matthew Chojnacki on 2014/05/13 09:53 CDT | 13 comments

HiRISE team member Matt Chojnacki tells us about the discovery and formation of these mysterious features forming on Mars in the present day.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3650 – May 2, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/05/12 11:09 CDT | 1 comment

Opportunity is closing in on the next important outcrop area on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Another Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/05/12 09:56 CDT | 1 comment

One day, five worlds.

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New Horizons: Updates From the April 2014 Science Team Meeting

Posted by Simon Porter on 2014/05/07 06:36 CDT | 1 comment

New Horizons team member Simon Porter reports on the state of the mission and Pluto system science from the recent science team meeting at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

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Dawn Journal: Explaining Orbit Insertion

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/05/06 08:21 CDT | 4 comments

Less than a year from its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to make excellent progress on its ambitious interplanetary adventure. But once it gets to Ceres, just how will it go into orbit? Marc Rayman explains.

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How Weird Is Our Solar System?

Posted by Jaime Green on 2014/05/05 10:54 CDT | 6 comments

Earth and its solar system compatriots all have nearly circular orbits, but many exoplanets orbit their stars on wildly eccentric paths. Is our home system strange? Or is our sense of the data skewed?

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Roves to Next Clay Mine
Sols 3619 - 3650

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/05/02 10:36 CDT | 3 comments

The Mars Exploration Rovers mission cruised toward the Martian spring, Opportunity is powered-up and cleaner than it has been since its first winter on Mars.

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Highlights From OSIRIS-REx Science Team Meeting #6

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/04/30 07:49 CDT

The OSIRIS-REx Science Team gathered at the University of Arizona from April 22–24, 2014 for their sixth meeting. Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta discusses a few of the highlights.

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Another Pale Blue Dot — Uranus Spied By Cassini

Posted by Val KlavansIan Regan on 2014/04/30 06:53 CDT | 1 comment

The Cassini mission has already returned an array of images of other solar system members from Saturn orbit: Earth (and the Moon), Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. It’s time to add another world to that list!

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Green Bank Telescope Helps Out an Old Friend

Posted by Tania Burchell on 2014/04/28 09:26 CDT

The Green Bank Telescope has been called into emergency service to play radar ping-pong on a close-by asteroid with Arecibo Observatory’s 100-meter William E. Gordon radio telescope.

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Spitzer Space Telescope Observations of Bennu

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/04/24 10:06 CDT

What can studying the thermal emission of Bennu with the Spitzer Space Telescope tell us about its physical properties?

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Forensic Ballistics: How Apollo 12 Helped Solve the Skydiver Meteorite Mystery

Posted by Philip Metzger on 2014/04/21 09:33 CDT | 7 comments

What can a 45-year-old mission to the Moon tell us about a "meteorite" flying past a skydiver on Earth?

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The Birth of the Wanderers

Posted by Augusto Carballido on 2014/04/16 02:50 CDT | 9 comments

How did planets originate? This is a question that has puzzled scientists for centuries, but one which they have been able to tackle directly only in the last few decades, thanks to two major developments: breakthroughs in telescope technology and ever-increasing computing power.

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Interview with a Mars Explorer

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/04/14 08:03 CDT | 5 comments

A conversation with Dr. Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE Investigation Scientist.

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Will We Finally Rove Mawrth Vallis?

Posted by J. Brian Balta on 2014/04/10 05:44 CDT | 3 comments

Mawrth Vallis was axed as a landing site for Curiosity, but will we get a chance to explore it with ESA's ExoMars rover?

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Yutu Update

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2014/04/10 03:08 CDT | 1 comment

We don’t hear a lot at the moment about Chang’E 3 and Yutu, the Chinese lander and rover which were all over the news a few months ago. But Phil Stooke has been collecting news online and in person last month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and now tries to put it all together and address the current state of the mission.

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Come Rock the Planet with Yuri’s Night!!

Posted by Loretta HidalgoDanielle Hannah on 2014/04/09 06:10 CDT

First launched on April 12, 2001, Yuri’s Night celebrates two amazing accomplishments of humankind: Yuri Gagarin’s becoming the first human to orbit the earth in 1961 and the first launch of the U.S. Space Shuttle, twenty years later to the day. It is also a global celebration of humanity’s future in space and how we can use space to bring us closer together.

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Arecibo Observatory operational after repairs to fix earthquake damage

Posted by Alessondra Springmann on 2014/04/09 09:48 CDT | 2 comments

Early in the morning on January 13, 2014, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck beneath the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico, damaging Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. The telescope is now operational after repairs and scientists have resumed observations. However, the future of Arecibo Observatory remains unclear due to funding uncertainties in the federal budget.

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The Spring Equinox 2014 issue of The Planetary Report is here!

Posted by Donna Stevens on 2014/04/08 04:46 CDT

Wind-sculpted sand—that is how I think of dunes. In our main feature, “The Dune Whispers,” Ralph D. Lorenz describes the formation, and varieties, of these fascinating and beautiful works of planetary art.

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Opposition time for Mars, and several months of dancing with the stars

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/04/08 08:47 CDT | 1 comment

The Mars Express team showcases some of the best viewing opportunities of Mars in 2014, including how to spot Comet Siding Spring when it flies past Mars this October.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Powers Up in Cook Haven and in Fans' Minds
Sols 3590 – 3621

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/04/07 03:05 CDT | 1 comment

At the Solander Point section of the rim of Endeavour Crater, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity spent the month of March just off Murray Ridge working on its final targets in Cook Haven and dusting itself in the winds of winter, while MER mission officials on Earth were roving toward what may be the robot's current greatest potential threat – being cut from NASA's planetary science budget.

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My Own Corner of Mars

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/04/07 10:02 CDT

How I took a high-res photo of an intriguing spot on the Red Planet--and how you can, too.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3623 – April 3, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/04/06 01:17 CDT

Larry Crumpler gives an update on Opportunity's current location, next long-term target, and excitingly increasing power levels.

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Fireworks in the Earth's Sky Sent from the Moon: Reflections from LPSC 2014

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2014/04/03 07:00 CDT

Deepak Dhingra reports on presentations from this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference focusing on how impacts on the Moon have affected Earth.

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Discovery Missions for an Icy Moon with Active Plumes

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/04/02 07:31 CDT | 8 comments

In December, scientists announced the discovery of possible plumes of water being ejected from Jupiters’s moon Europa. If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon with confirmed plumes after Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Two Discovery mission proposals for Enceladus suggest the types of missions that may be proposed for Europa.

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Dawn Journal: Orbital Trajectories

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/04/01 09:48 CDT | 3 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on Dawn's status and explains how the spacecraft is actually getting closer to Earth at the moment as it moves deeper into the asteroid belt.

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LPSC 2014: The Curious Case of Active Volcanism on Venus

Posted by Constantine Tsang on 2014/04/01 12:10 CDT | 5 comments

She’s alive! She’s alive! Or is she? A little more than a week ago, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2014, evidence was presented that Venus was geologically active, not in the recent past, like 100,000 years ago, but right now.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: Cosmic bully spotted by ESA and NASA

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/31 05:46 CDT

Hubble has taken some great new images of our 'friend,' Comet Siding Spring, due to pass by Mars at less than 136,000 km on October 19 – less than half the distance between Earth and our moon.

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Returning Explorers

Posted by Achim Vollhardt on 2014/03/28 01:25 CDT | 3 comments

ICE has been on a journey for over 30 years around our sun. While the owner has decided not to bring the ship back to its home port, a group of radio amateurs tries to find out how ICE is doing.

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A Centaur’s shadow reveals bright rings

Posted by Alex Parker on 2014/03/27 09:28 CDT | 7 comments

Yesterday, a team of astronomers announced that they discovered a set of planet-like rings around Chariklo, an asteroid-like body that currently resides in the unstable region between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus.

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Detecting Spacetime Distortions

Posted by Katherine Mack on 2014/03/25 08:17 CDT | 4 comments

Katie Mack explains why the BICEP2 detection of primordial gravitational waves has left astrophysicists at a loss for words.

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Dancing With Saturn

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/03/24 09:30 CDT | 5 comments

Cassini images in motion.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: Ya gotta have a little ‘tude

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/24 03:44 CDT

In the latest update on how the Mars Express flight control team is planning to deal with Comet Siding Spring is all about attitude -- and hiding behind the biggest guy in the fight.

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Further Analysis of NASA's FY15 Budget Proposal: Steady As She Goes?

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/03/22 10:23 CDT

The President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget details were released last week. For the next several years, the budget proposes a steady as she goes plan, but with two “what are they thinking?” surprises.

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Calling Congress Is Easy

Posted by Kirby Runyon on 2014/03/21 07:38 CDT | 3 comments

Calling your senators and representatives about NASA's budget isn't that bad. In fact, I just took 15 minutes out of my day to do it! If you're not sure what to say to support planetary exploration, I hope you'll be inspired by what I've transcribed from my phone call this afternoon.

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Moonwalking

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/03/18 12:42 CDT | 8 comments

Get an astronaut's view into several lunar craters.

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Postcards from Pluto

Posted by Amanda Zangari on 2014/03/12 03:26 CDT | 2 comments

Amanda Zangari shares what it's like to be a scientist on New Horizons, and explains some of the day-to-day workings of the mission behind the scenes.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: How to determine the orbit of a comet?

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/12 02:02 CDT | 2 comments

In the quest to track Comet Siding Spring, the Mars Express team tells us how computing the orbit of a comet isn't as straightforward as science fiction would have us believe.

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Why Cosmos should matter, especially to Hollywood

Posted by Taryn O'Neill on 2014/03/07 01:52 CST | 3 comments

For a town dependent on Stars, there are far too few people here who look up at the sky. But come this Sunday, March 9, the epic series of science, space and humanity will return: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Why does it matter for Hollywood, specifically? I'll tell you why it will. And then why it should.

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Hypervelocity Cratering and Riding Out the Risk

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/06 07:34 CST

Today's update from the Mars Express team contains the realisation that, for some of the risks associated with October's Siding Spring flyby, there may not be much the team can do.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Cruises Through Winter Solstice, Into Year 11
Sols 3564 - 3590

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/03/05 01:32 CST

The Mars Exploration Rover mission put its 10th anniversary in the rear view mirror in February and roved on into its 11th year of surface operations at Endeavour Crater.

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Space is really, really big – except sometimes it isn’t

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/04 11:19 CST

Here's the next installment in the continuing story of how the Mars Express team is preparing for Comet Siding Spring flyby, 19 October 2014. This week: introducing the spacecraft's subsystems and structure – and wondering how we can absorb impacts.

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Eyes and stopwatch are all that are needed to help measure an invisible asteroid

Posted by Ted Blank on 2014/03/03 01:04 CST | 1 comment

Would you like to be part of one of the largest citizen-science efforts in the history of astronomy? The International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) invites you to join in the campaign to observe and time the best and brightest asteroid occultation ever predicted to occur over a populated area – and no telescope is required!

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Dawn Journal: Maneuvering Around Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/03/03 06:00 CST | 2 comments

Continuing its daring mission to explore some of the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system, Dawn remains on course and on schedule for its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres next year.

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Comet Siding Spring Mars encounter: Why orienting Mars Express is the heart of the challenge

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/02/28 12:25 CST

Today's post continues where we started last week with an update from the Mars Express Flight Control Team at ESOC on their preparations for the 19 October Comet Siding Springs flyby. Today: defining the challenge!

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Reflecting on NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission, launching today

Posted by J. Marshall Shepherd on 2014/02/27 11:31 CST | 2 comments

Former deputy project scientist and current science team member J. Marshall Shepherd tells us why missions like NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) are vital to our way of life.

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Mars Express team readies for Siding Spring

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/02/26 01:31 CST | 3 comments

On Sunday, 19 October 2014, at around 18:30 UTC, comet C/2013 A1 – known widely as 'Siding Spring' after the Australian observatory where it was discovered in January 2013 – will make a close fly-by of Mars.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3572 – February 10, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 12:49 CST | 5 comments

Opportunity is still exploring an outcrop high up on Murray Ridge as the winter solstice on Mars approaches. At this location the tilts are good, so Opportunity is getting excellent solar input on its solar panels.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 3556 – January 24, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2014/02/25 12:18 CST

Today is the tenth anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Mars. Here at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, we just opened a tenth anniversary exhibit.

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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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A Spin Through the Inner Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/24 09:57 CST | 1 comment

Animated maps of the planets show the spheres in motion.

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Sand Waves in the Desert
or “Pet Peeves and Deciphering Climate Change in the Solar System”

Posted by Lori Fenton on 2014/02/21 03:19 CST | 1 comment

I have a pet peeve: the words dune and ripple are often used interchangeably, although they are quite distinct from one another. So what’s the difference between aeolian dunes and ripples? And why should anybody care?

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Mission to a Metallic World: A Discovery Proposal to Fly to the Asteroid Psyche

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/02/19 07:45 CST | 1 comment

Imagine flying deep within the asteroid belt to study the most unreachable location in the solar system: the deep core of a terrestrial world.

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Missions to a Star

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/17 02:45 CST | 2 comments

Upcoming deep space missions will venture right to the heart of the Solar System.

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The Two Faces of Phoebe

Posted by Daniel Macháček on 2014/02/13 10:03 CST | 7 comments

Cassini flew past Phoebe on June 11, 2004, on its way to entering Saturn orbit. The flyby was almost perfect but overexposure of some images have prevented color mosaics from being produced. Even though Phoebe's body is gray and dull in color, the absence of color images always provoked me. By using VIMS data, I have now produced color mosaics.

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What is NASA for?

Posted by Craig Hardgrove on 2014/02/12 04:19 CST | 3 comments

Planetary scientist Craig Hardgrove takes a look at what NASA really does for humanity.

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Behind-the-scenes story of Yutu: Promoting space exploration in China

Posted by Quanzhi Ye on 2014/02/11 12:24 CST

Promoting the story of Yutu to the Chinese public through social media: a successful case of science outreach.

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New Hills, Old Secrets

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/10 08:04 CST | 1 comment

Exploring a set of newly named hills on Mars reveals tantalizing clues to the planet's story.

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Discovery Next

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/02/08 08:36 CST | 5 comments

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the Discovery program is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. The creativity of the scientific community has given us a wide assortment of missions in the past and is likely to surprise and delight us again.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Finds Mystery Rock, Mission Celebrates 10 Years
Sols 3534 - 3563

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/02/07 01:22 CST

In the storied history of the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission, January 2014 will likely be remembered as one of the most memorable months of all.

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Curiosity update, sols 521-533: Assessing Dingo Gap

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2014/02/04 05:08 CST | 3 comments

While continuing to perform regular wheel health assessments, Curiosity took a sharp right turn and headed for Dingo Gap. On sol 533, they performed a "toe dip" that parked the rover atop the dune with a good view down into the valley.

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The Faces of Mars

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/03 10:49 CST | 5 comments

Portraits of a planet.

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Dawn Journal: Onward to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/02/01 10:58 CST | 4 comments

The majority of Dawn's time in the Ceres approach phase will be devoted to continuing ion-powered flight. Let’s take another look at how this remarkable technology is used to deliver the adventurer to the desired orbit around Ceres.

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A new comet observing campaign for C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)
You thought you were rid of us...but we're baa-aaack!

Posted by Karl Battams on 2014/01/27 11:22 CST | 1 comment

You thought you were rid of us...but we're back! Following the spectacular and, quite frankly unprecedented, success of the Comet ISON Observing Campaign, we are launching a similar venture for another unique cometary encounter that's happening this year. In October 2014, comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass extremely close to Mars.

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The Giant Spider of Mercury

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/01/27 01:23 CST | 3 comments

Striking terrain discovered by the MESSENGER probe.

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New Horizons: Updates From the January 2014 Science Team Meeting, Part 2

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/01/24 01:16 CST | 3 comments

Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting. Updates include the status of the Kuiper Belt target search and the use of ALMA to refine Pluto's ephemeris.

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New Horizons: Updates From the Science Team Meeting, Part 1

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/01/23 06:15 CST | 1 comment

Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting.

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Russia's Ambitious Planetary Exploration Goals

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/22 11:58 CST | 5 comments

Roscosmos has ambitious planetary exploration plans in the coming decades, including a series of solo lunar missions and joint missions to Mars with the European Space Agency.

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