Guest blogs from 2015
The OSIRIS-REx team successfully and safely completed sine vibration (sine vibe) testing on the spacecraft prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The sine vibe tests are designed to verify the system performs as expected after being exposed to flight-like low frequency vibration input.
Posted by Sanjay Limaye on 2015/12/08 10:29 CST
One day after closest approach, Akatsuki is now speeding away from Venus at 4.09 kilometers per second and is 180,000 kilometers from the planet. In his last report from Sagamihara, Sanjay Limaye gets some updates on the new orbiter's trajectory.
The Akatsuki team achieved something that no mission as done before – put a spacecraft into orbit around a planet using only the attitude control thrusters. An event that one could not even conceive or propose!
Venus researcher Sanjay Limaye reports from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Sagamihara on the status of Akatsuki's second Venus orbit insertion attempt.
Perhaps forgotten by the general public in the West, a long-lost spacecraft is set to enter orbit around our sister planet in December, picking up where ESA’s Venus Express left off when its operations ended last year.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/12/03 06:51 CST
Opportunity faced the challenges of winter as well as technological issues in November, but pressed on, hiking up hill and into a geological treasure trove that may well present the scientists with the evidence they need to solve the clay mineral mystery of Marathon Valley.
Stories about exploration and wonder can be powerful antidotes to seemingly endless suffering and destruction.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make steady progress toward launch in September 2016. Environmental testing is now underway to ensure the spacecraft is ready for the many conditions it will experience over its mission.
Posted by Adam Block on 2015/11/13 05:24 CST
Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares stunning images of a few rarely-imaged pieces of our universe.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/11/04 07:00 CST
Opportunity hit the slopes of her seventh winter haven on the south side of Marathon Valley in October as the mission entered the 130th month of what was initially slated to be a 90-day tour.
Last year, NASA’s managers invited the European Space Agency to propose a small spacecraft to explore the Jovian system. Van Kane describes the recently-posted results of ESA's concept studies for two possible missions.
Deepak Dhingra reports on a planetary analog field trip exploring a very young volcanic terrain in Idaho at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/10/14 03:45 CDT
The OSIRIS-REx mission continues to make great progress and is in the Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of the program. There's been many great accomplishments leading up to this point.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory summer intern Jake Rosenthal shares his thoughts on the Mars 2020 sample caching technology currently in development.
Opportunity continued her walkabout around Marathon Valley in September and sent home more evidence of significant water alteration and, perhaps, an ancient environment inviting enough for the emergence of life.
Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/09/22 09:27 CDT
Historically, NASA missions set aside a portion of their budgets for education and public outreach, or EPO. However, the OSIRIS-REx EPO budget got deleted in 2013 as part of a broader federal policy change. Dante Lauretta decided to make a run at a private company to recover the lost OSIRIS-REx EPO program – and Xtronaut was born!
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) is almost a silent star at Mars. The latest MRO data release brought the total number of available CTX images to over 70,000, covering well over 90% of the Red Planet at a stunning resolution of 6 meters per pixel.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/09/03 08:04 CDT
Opportunity drove farther into Marathon Valley in August, dug into what appears to be a water-altered rock, and took a lot of picture postcards in what is turning out to be a distinctively different site from any that the mission has found since the robot field geologist landed in 2004.
The assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues, with many elements integrated onto the spacecraft ahead of schedule. Last month both OTES and OVIRS were delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the science deck.
Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2015/08/26 02:53 CDT
Opportunity is moving down into a large valley that cuts through the rim of Endeavour crater, into some interesting scenery.
Van Kane presents one of the three missions from the latest round of NASA Discovery proposals with the goal of exploring Mars' moons.
Nearly seven Earth years after Opportunity set its sites on Endeavour Crater, the rover cruised into Marathon Valley, the once-but-a-dream destination.
The Planetary Society's volunteers around the world have been busy these past few months, with all the excitement surrounding Asteroid Day, the LightSail test mission, the New Horizons and Dawn missions, and other space milestones!
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has begun sending us fresh, whole-hemisphere images of our own fragile planet. Some sources say that the spacecraft is "orbiting" the L1 point. Dave Doody thinks this warrants some scrutiny.
Van Kane rounds up some of the latest NASA Discovery mission proposals aiming to explore our solar system's smallest bodies.
Posted by Donna Stevens on 2015/07/23 10:03 CDT
The summer edition of The Planetary Report has printed and will soon be at your door.
While Pluto deservedly stole the headlines last week, Chris Russell’s Dawn update at the Exploration Science Forum at NASA Ames reminded us that the other dwarf planets are also sharing their secrets with eager scientists.
Posted by Annie Wargetz on 2015/07/17 03:12 CDT
While the OLA, OCAMS, and REXIS instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continue working towards their deliveries, other hardware onsite at Lockheed is undergoing testing prior to installation. The hardware is put through tests here on Earth prior to launching into space.
Ian Regan shares his mesmerizing animated sequence of Voyager 2's approach to Saturn—and explains the process behind its creation.
Posted by Jason Callahan on 2015/07/02 11:34 CDT
Congress has made good progress so far this year in moving the annual appropriations bills that fund the government. However, a looming budget battle over the sequestration and budget caps threaten to sideline progress until Congress and the White House reach agreement. Here’s the current situation.
After three weeks of being in a communications blackout on the other side of the Sun during the Earth-Mars solar conjunction, Opportunity phoned home, reporting that she is healthy and ready to continue her mission.
Last week, more than 150 astronomers gathered in Nashville for a conference to examine fundamental questions in our field: Who gets to practice astronomy? How can we make astronomy more inclusive?
Over the last several years, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory have rethought the entire approach to exploring Europa. NASA now has a concept that's affordable.
Opportunity spent a mostly merry month of May on Mars touring Spirit of St. Louis Crater, stopping at science targets named in honor of Charles Lindbergh and the incredible flight he took 88 years ago.
In the last two months, there has been significant news about the European-Russian 2018 mission and about NASA’s 2020 rover. NASA also has announced that it would like to send a new orbiter to the Red Planet in the early 2020s.
The nature of the origin of life is a topic that has engaged people since ancient times. The samples to be collected by OSIRIS-REx, returned to the Earth in 2023 and archived for decades beyond that, may indeed hide the secrets to the origin of life.
Long before Curiosity's landing, the description of the color camera made me dream: I imagined what wonderful pictures we could get of sunsets and sunrises on Mars. They finally came on sol 956, the 15th of April, 2015.
After investigating some flat, light and dark toned rocks around Spirit of St. Louis Crater in April, Opportunity chalked up another milestone achievement – the 4000th sol or Martian day of surface operations.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/05/01 10:06 CDT
MER mission ops team members joined other engineers and scientists, some who previously worked on the MER mission, to take on the challenge of a relay marathon to celebrate Opportunity's milestone achievement.
With the shortage of plutonium-238 to power space missions, Europe has decided to focus on an accessible alternative material that could power future spacecraft: americium-241.
Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/04/21 04:55 CDT
The OSIRIS-REx team has been busy assembling and testing the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and the Sample Return Capsule (SRC).
Over the past couple of decades the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia has been picking up two types of mysterious signals, each lasting just a few milliseconds. The source of one of these signals may have finally been found—and an unexpected source at that.
Posted by Adam Block on 2015/04/17 11:28 CDT
Astrophotographer Adam Block brings us images showcasing the evolutionary cycles in our universe.
NASA officials have asked their European counterparts if they would like to propose contributing a small probe to NASA's Europa mission planned for the mid-2020s.
The Planetary Society Operations Assistant Whitney Pratz reports from the National Science Teacher Association Conference and on the development of our youth education and outreach program, Planetary Kids.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.