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Our journalists and guest bloggers bring you stunning imagery and the space stories that matter most.

Meeting today: The infelicitously named "SBAG"

Emily Lakdawalla • August 25, 2011

NASA funds regular meetings of scientists who work on different parts of the solar system to provide scientific input into NASA's future plans. These "analysis groups" are known by their acronyms, all of which sound kind of horrible, but none has quite as terrible-sounding an acronym as "SBAG," usually pronouced "ess-bag," the Small Bodies Assessment Group.

In their own words

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

While doing my daily reading today I was struck by the awesomeness of two recent blog posts. Both were composed not by professional bloggers like me but by professional space explorers, one a scientist and the other an engineer.

The most exciting citizen science project ever (to me, anyway)

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2011

A guest blogger here recently rounded up the large number of participatory research projects that are collectively known as citizen science. I think these are all very cool and I encourage you to check them out but none of them has yet inspired me to spend my precious time as grunt labor on a gigantic collective project. Until now.

Observing at the WIYN

Meg Schwamb • June 08, 2011

On May 5 and 6, I had a run on the WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) telescope, a 3.5 m telescope, the second largest telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

South of the Border

Meg Schwamb • May 25, 2011

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

Another scientific clarification: Vanth probably not half the mass of Orcus

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2011

Earlier this week I got all excited about the Orcus-Vanth system. It turns out there was a math error in the version of the paper that I read, which resulted in the notion that Vanth could be nearly as big as Orcus.

Eris might be smaller than Pluto after all (but it's still more massive)

Emily Lakdawalla • November 08, 2010

Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.

Naming X: A contest for kids to name small bodies

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2010

A contest has just been announced that appears to create a pathway for schoolchildren to suggest names to the International Astronomical Union for minor planets -- all those small things in the solar system that don't orbit the eight big ones.

New maps of Pluto show pretty amazing amounts of surface change

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2010

I just posted my writeup of today's press briefing on a new map of Pluto produced from Hubble images. The main conclusion was that Pluto has shown an astonishing amount of changes across its surface between 1994 and 2002 -- more, in fact, than any other solid surface in the solar system.

Report #2 from the New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Ted Stryk • January 20, 2010

The second report by Ted Stryk from the New Horizons science team meeting, focusing on the search for Kuiper belt object (KBO) targets.

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