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Guest blogs from 2018

The Venus controversy

Adeene Denton • August 14, 2018

A lack of new missions keeps scientists guessing on what shaped the planet’s surface.

Mastcam-Z Team Blog: A Special Team Photomosaic

Darian Dixon • August 06, 2018

Mastcam-Z will help the Mars 2020 rover explore the surface of Mars. Dozens of amazing scientists and engineers from across the globe contribute to the development of Mastcam-Z. This year, the team photo was taken with our very own Mastcam-Z testbed unit.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Dust Storm Wanes, Opportunity Sleeps, Team Prepares Recovery Strategy

A.J.S. Rayl • August 01, 2018

As Opportunity slept in Perseverance Valley under the thick cloud of dust that has blanketed the Red Planet for the last six weeks, scientists who are studying the monster storm that forced the robot field geologist into its hibernation mode are now reporting the tempest has peaked.

Planetary Society Volunteers are Candles in the Dark

Kate Howells • July 31, 2018

After a bewildering day at AlienCon, a New York Times reporter found hope at The Planetary Society, courtesy of volunteer Sean Marquez.

The June solstice issue of The Planetary Report has arrived

Donna Stevens • July 20, 2018

The June solstice 2018 issue of The Planetary Report is about to mail and will arrive at Planetary Society members’ homes within days. Members who want to read it sooner can access the magazine online.

How the Apollo missions transformed our understanding of the Moon’s origin

Jatan Mehta • July 19, 2018

Where did the Moon come from? The origin of our cosmic neighbor is a fundamental question in planetary science.

Dawn Journal: Going Out on a High...Or Maybe a Low

Marc Rayman • July 18, 2018

Rapidly nearing the end of a unique decade-long interplanetary expedition, Dawn is taking phenomenal pictures of dwarf planet Ceres as it swoops closer to the ground than ever before.

How India built NavIC, the country's own GPS network

Gurbir Singh • July 17, 2018

The country's satellite navigation system faced a long and difficult road, but it's finally operational.

Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: The Cosmic Ocean

Adam Block • July 16, 2018

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares some of his most recent images of our amazing and beautiful universe.

Generation Zero of JPL Planetary Rovers

Mike Blackstone • July 12, 2018

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a fabled history of planetary rovers. But how do you start such a program?

The Bounty of Iron Meteorites Found on Mars

Linda Martel • July 10, 2018

Something new and wonderful appeared in the Meteoritical Bulletin Database—an entire listing of meteorites found on Mars by robotic rovers and their science teams from the years 2005–2017.

Walking on Mars: Bringing the Red Planet Down to Earth

Jonathon Hill • July 06, 2018

What happens when you print a map of Mars the size of a basketball court?

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Sleeps as Storm Chasers Study Planet-Encircling Dust Cloud

A.J.S. Rayl • July 04, 2018

As a monster dust storm grew to encircle the Red Planet in June, Opportunity spent most of the month in the dark, presumably sleeping in a hibernation mode as the skies over Endeavour Crater became darker and darker.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update Special Report: Opportunity Pummeled by Massive Dust Storm, Hunkers Down to Sleep

A.J.S. Rayl • June 15, 2018

Entrenched in the west rim of Endeavour Crater, veteran robot field geologist Opportunity is hunkered down in Perseverance Valley in a kind of hibernation mode.

Dawn Journal: Spiralling Down

Marc Rayman • June 15, 2018

Propelled by the perfect combination of xenon ions, hydrazine rocket propellant and adrenaline, Dawn is on the verge of its most ambitious exploits yet.

Favorite Astro Plots: The Pyroxene Quadrilateral

Melissa Lane • June 15, 2018

Petrology is a field of science in which scientists study the compositions of rocks and minerals and interpret their geologic history. A common graph petrologists use is the “pyroxene quadrilateral.” These graphs, like photos of space, can reveal an understanding of the remotest parts of the solar system.

Big news from the magnetosphere

Geoffrey Reeves • June 05, 2018

At five years and counting, the Van Allen Probes mission continues to reshape our thinking about how Earth’s radiation belts flex and reconfigure under the influence of solar storms.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Makes Tracks on Magical Mystery Tour of Different Rocks

A.J.S. Rayl • June 02, 2018

Opportunity continued exploring the south trough of Perseverance in May, still looking for evidence that explains just how this one-of-a-kind valley meandering through Endeavour Crater’s rim formed.

Mars' growth stunted!

Sean Raymond • June 01, 2018

Mars is a weirdo. (Well, as far as planets go).

Visiting northern Thailand? Be a Stopover Astronomer guest at Thailand’s national astronomy institute

Svet Shkolyar • May 31, 2018

If you are space professional traveling to Thailand, the country's national space science research institute has an opportunity for you!

Dawn Journal: Getting Elliptical

Marc Rayman • May 25, 2018

For the first time in almost a year, the Dawn mission control room at JPL is aglow with blue.

How are we preparing astronauts for a return to the Moon?

Tess Caswell • May 22, 2018

Returning to the Moon won’t be easy, even though we’ve been there before.

Mastcam-Z team blog: We've got flight hardware!

Elsa Jensen • May 21, 2018

Right after the last Mastcam-Z team meeting a year ago (link here to last two blog posts), our team finalized the design of the cameras, and then the fantastic voyage of creating Martian panoramic zoom cameras began.

Chang'e 4 relay satellite, Queqiao: A bridge between Earth and the mysterious lunar farside

Luyuan Xu • May 19, 2018

China's fourth lunar mission, Chang’e 4, is expected to begin on May 21 with the launch of a Long March 4C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwest of China. The launch will carry a spacecraft named Queqiao, which will serve as a communication relay satellite between Earth and the lunar farside.

Fire at ISRO's Space Application Centre

Sandhya Ramesh • May 15, 2018

Two weeks ago, Indian media reported a fire at the Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Although it was a big fire, it was in an isolated building and no spacecraft was damaged.

Juno meets Cassini: A new merged global map of Jupiter

Björn Jónsson • May 14, 2018

The Juno spacecraft that is currently orbiting Jupiter has obtained the first good images of Jupiter's polar regions. I am presenting here a combined global map of Jupiter, made from a Cassini map I made for the equatorial and temperate regions and polar maps made from the Juno JunoCam and JIRAM polar images.

Refreshing the Viking Orbiter views of Mars

Justin Cowart • May 07, 2018

Justin Cowart reprocesses Viking Orbiter images from the 1970s and 1980s to reveal their unique and beautiful perspectives on the planet.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Studies Mystery Rock, Mission Officials Seek 2019 Extension

A.J.S. Rayl • May 04, 2018

Opportunity spent April further exploring the area about halfway down Perseverance Valley, checking out unusual, vesicular or pitted rocks the likes of which she has never seen, while officials prepared the mission’s bid to keep the robot field geologist roving through 2019.

A Comet or Titan: The Next New Frontiers Mission

Van Kane • May 02, 2018

Both would do compelling science in the mid-2030s. Otherwise the two missions could not be more different.

An update on the potential habitability of TRAPPIST-1

Franck Marchis • April 30, 2018

One year ago, Franck Marchis wrote an article about the remarkable discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Here's an update.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update Special Report: Perseverance Science So Far, New View of Endeavour at LPSC 2018

A.J.S. Rayl • April 27, 2018

For the 15th year in a row, Opportunity drove into the spotlight during an afternoon session at the 49th Lunar & Planetary Science Conference.

‘SuperCam’ Update: Multi-purpose Instrument Coming Together for 2020 Launch to Mars

Roger Wiens • April 27, 2018

Excitement is building within the SuperCam team as the instrument enters the final stages of assembly and testing toward an anticipated launch aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.

What kind of asteroid is Ryugu?

Makoto Yoshikawa • April 24, 2018

What do we already know about Ryugu, and why is it so hard to know what it looks like? Hayabusa2 Mission Manger Makoto Yoshikawa

The Opportunity selfie: 5000 Sols in the making

Doug Ellison • April 20, 2018

A personal story recounts how a NASA team used a microscopic imager to take a selfie of the Opportunity rover.

Space grade electronics: How NASA’s Juno survives near Jupiter

Jatan Mehta • April 17, 2018

Take a look at how electronics of spacecraft are built to survive the harshness of space environments.

Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Hidden in Plain Sight

Adam Block • April 13, 2018

Award-winning astrophotographer Adam Block shares of his latest work.

Diving into Juno JIRAM data archives

Björn Jónsson • April 11, 2018

The Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument can obtain images in two infrared bands. JIRAM can see the nightside of Jupiter (including the winter pole) and takes spectacular animations.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Presses On in Perseverance, Pace Picks Up

A.J.S. Rayl • April 11, 2018

In the west rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity continued her exploration of Perseverance Valley in March.

The March Equinox 2018 issue of The Planetary Report is here!

Donna Stevens • April 09, 2018

The March Equinox 2018 issue of The Planetary Report has mailed and Planetary Society members can download their digital copy.

#LPSC2018: What the Moon's craters tell us about Earth's past climate

Sriparna Saha • April 08, 2018

You might be surprised to learn that studying craters on the Moon can tell us about ancient Earth.

Dawn Journal: The Final Countdown

Marc Rayman • April 02, 2018

The Dawn mission has only one revolution to go before the spacecraft begins the final campaign of its long and rewarding deep-space adventure.

#LPSC2018: Understanding early Mars through fluvial features

Adeene Denton • April 02, 2018

One of the ways we understand Mars' early climatic and geologic history is through preserved fluvial features.

#LPSC2018: Groovy Galilean satellites

Harriet Brettle • March 30, 2018

The Jovian system is a busy place. The Groovy Galilean Satellites session at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) covered analysis of past mission data, testable hypotheses for future missions, and discussion of the use of ground-based data.

#LPSC2018: Mars mass wasting in the laboratory

Jake Robins • March 26, 2018

Mars today is a dynamic place. One visually dramatic sign of change on Mars is "mass wasting," more commonly known as "stuff falling downhill". Scientists presented the results of recent laboratory work on Mars mass wasting at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the Moon!

Karen James • March 16, 2018

Karen James visited a local preschool to share her love for space with a pre-Kindergarten class.

Automating Science on Mars

Raymond Francis and Tara Estlin • March 13, 2018

Since 2016, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has had the ability to choose its own science targets using an onboard intelligent targeting system called AEGIS.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Logs 5000th Day, Snaps Selfie, and Roves On

A.J.S. Rayl • March 05, 2018

When Opportunity’s 5000th day dawned in February, it was a meaningful milestone for the team, and it led to a personal first for the veteran robot field geologist that has chalked up so many firsts she’s set the standard for Mars rovers.

Luciana, Chilean-American Girl of the Year: Inspire the future with role models from the world's global south

Bárbara Núñez • February 28, 2018

Inspired by the American Girl company's choice of a Chilean-American space fan girl named Luciana for 2018's Girl of the Year, Bárbara Núñez invites you to meet some real-life Chilean woman scientist role models!

Yoshihide Kozai (1928 - 2018)

Konstantin Batygin • February 27, 2018

Caltech planetary scientist Konstantin Batygin pays tribute to a pioneer in celestial mechanics.

Go for GOLD, SES-14!

Heather Hunter • February 22, 2018

While we can measure properties of these upper layers using ground-based instruments, satellite-borne remote sensing instruments can give us a more frequent, global, and often higher spatial resolution perspective. And that is precisely what NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will deliver.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Completes 14 Years of Exploring, Opportunity Roves into Year 15!

A.J.S. Rayl • January 31, 2018

In January, Opportunity quietly completed 14 years of surface operations on Mars—the longest-lived robot on another planet.

Engineering Qualification Model confirms performance of the Mastcam-Z!

Jim Bell • January 30, 2018

Just this past week, assembly of the Mastcam-Z EQM was completed, and we saw for the first time what one of our Mars zoom cameras would really look like.

Reconstructing the Viking '75 Mars lander Surface Sampler Collector

Tom Dahl • January 29, 2018

Viking enthusiast Tom Dahl has created an animation demonstrating the operation of the Viking lander's Surface Sampler Acquisition Assembly, or "scoop."

International meetings: Moon initiatives

James D. Burke • January 25, 2018

Interest is rising globally in expanded lunar science, resource exploration and eventually permanent human settlement. Also, the potential for commercial lunar enterprises is being seriously examined.

Dawn Journal: 4 Billion Miles

Marc Rayman • January 17, 2018

Permanently in residence at dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is now preparing to add some finishing touches to its mission.

A new look at Venus with Akatsuki

Damia Bouic • January 16, 2018

Amateur image processor Damia Bouic shares a plethora of stunning new images of Venus captured by a Japanese spacecraft.

Winter 2017/2018 issue of The Planetary Report

Donna Stevens • January 06, 2018

The Winter 2017/2018 issue of The Planetary Report is arriving in Planetary Society members’ mailboxes—but members who like to read their magazine on the screen can pick it up online.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Beats Winter, Wraps 2017, and Heads for 14th Anniversary

A.J.S. Rayl • January 05, 2018

With the Martian winter on the run, Opportunity cruised closer to its 14th anniversary of exploring the Red Planet in December as she deliberated a distinctive “fork in the road” deep in Perseverance Valley and wrapped another record year.

astronaut on Phobos
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