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Blogs

Blog entries by Van Kane

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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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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Europa New Frontiers Mission? (Or why I like the Europa Clipper concept even more now)

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/07 05:14 CST | 3 comments

Europa remains a top priority for a future mission to explore whether it could host life. While the Europa Clipper mission, remains the current front runner, a senior NASA manager has suggested that the agency may look at still lower cost options. Van Kane looks at what those options might be.

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NASA’s New Planetary Mission Woes

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/27 04:49 CST | 2 comments

NASA’s planetary science program depends on regular missions to solar system bodies to gather data. A combination of budget cuts and previous commitments to develop missions currently in the pipeline means that development of follow on missions may slow to a crawl. Van Kane looks at the current situation and NASA’s plans and then look at options the agency may consider if budgets remain tight into the next decade.

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The ASRG Cancellation in Context

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/09 12:50 CST | 8 comments

ASRGs could have stretched NASA's limited supply of plutonium to potentially enable missions to the perpetually-shadowed polar craters on our moon, to flyby Uranus, or to float for months on a Titan lake.

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Will We Lose Cassini’s "New" Mission at Saturn to Budget Cuts?

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/11/12 06:26 CST | 5 comments

NASA’s shrinking budgets for planetary exploration may force it to decide between continued funding for the Saturn Cassini mission and the continued funding for its Mars missions.

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Europe Bypasses Solar System for Upcoming Science Missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/11/06 08:44 CST | 3 comments

The European Space Agency has selected two astrophysics observatories as its next large science missions, overlooking every proposed planetary mission. ESA's current selection of planetary missions, however, means it will still be a major player in solar system exploration for the next two decades.

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The Potential of CubeSats

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/10/23 09:17 CDT

Planetary spacecraft originally tended to be large missions. However, technology is shrinking, and before the decade is out, I expect that we will have at least one planetary mission based on a CubeSat.

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Europe Will Select Its Next Major Science Mission in November

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/09/25 01:22 CDT | 2 comments

The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.

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Finally, an FY13 NASA Planetary Budget, Just 11 Months Late

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/08/30 05:32 CDT | 10 comments

The final news for NASA's Planetary Science program is better than had been proposed, but still a substantial cut over the previous year. There may be serious future consequences as a result of the smaller program.

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