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

Can nuclear waste help humanity reach for the stars?

Tim Tinsley • April 23, 2015 • 3

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.

Development of the OSIRIS-REx Sampling System: TAGSAM and the SRC

Dante Lauretta • April 21, 2015

The OSIRIS-REx team has been busy assembling and testing the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and the Sample Return Capsule (SRC).

Curiosity update, sols 896-949: Telegraph Peak, Garden City, and concern about the drill

Emily Lakdawalla • April 10, 2015 • 1

Since I last wrote about Curiosity drilling at Pink Cliffs, the rover has visited and studied two major sites, drilling at one of them. It has also suffered a short in the drill percussion mechanism that presents serious enough risk to warrant a moratorium on drill use until engineers develop a plan to continue to operate it safely.

OSIRIS-REx Begins ATLO (Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations)

Dante Lauretta • April 02, 2015

The OSIRIS-REx mission passed another major milestone. We now have approval to build the spacecraft.

How Do We Know When We Have Collected a Sample of Bennu?

Kevin Walsh • March 17, 2015 • 1

A huge amount of effort goes into deciding where to try to collect a sample on Bennu. There are roughly nine months to survey, map and model the asteroid to help make this decision.

Talking to Pluto is hard! Why it takes so long to get data back from New Horizons

Emily Lakdawalla • January 30, 2015 • 13

As I write this post, New Horizons is nearing the end of a weeklong optical navigation campaign. The last optical navigation images in the weeklong series will be taken tomorrow, but it will likely take two weeks or more for all the data to get to Earth. Two weeks! Why does it take so long?

Don't Miss This Great New Video About Europa

Casey Dreier • November 21, 2014

JPL released a slick new video highlighting the significance of Europa, the moon of Jupiter with more liquid water than the Earth.

Rosetta NAVCAM's Shades of Grey

Claudia Mignone • October 27, 2014 • 1

What do “light” and “dark” mean for an object like Comet 67P/C-G? Here are some details on how Rosetta's NAVCAM images are taken and displayed to make a wide range of surface features possible.

Using Lasers to Lock Down Exoplanet Hunting

Bruce Betts • September 26, 2014

The Planetary Society is launching a new collaboration with Yale exoplanet hunter Debra Fischer and her team, the Exoplanets Laser project. We will support the purchase of an advanced, ultra stable laser to be used in a complex system they are designing to push radial velocity exoplanet hunting to a whole whole new level.

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Passes First Major Qualification Test

Dante Lauretta • September 12, 2014

The development of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make great progress having recently completed static load testing.

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