Emily Lakdawalla is an internationally admired science communicator and educator, passionate about advancing public understanding of space and sharing the wonder of scientific discovery.
Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from Amherst College and a Master of Science degree in planetary geology from Brown University. She came to The Planetary Society in 2001. She has been writing and editing the Planetary Society Blog since 2005, reporting on space news, explaining planetary science, and sharing beautiful space photos. From 2018 to 2019 she was editor of the Society's member magazine, The Planetary Report.
Emily has been an active supporter of the international community of space image processing enthusiasts as Administrator of the forum UnmannedSpaceflight.com since 2005. She is also a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine.
Her first book, titled The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job, was published by Springer-Praxis in March, 2018. The book explains the development, design, and function of Curiosity with the same level of technical detail that she delivers in the Planetary Society Blog. A second book, Curiosity and Its Science Mission: A Mars Rover Goes to Work will follow in 2021.
It's a banner year for sample return missions. In 2020, China, Japan, and the United States are all scheduled to have sample return missions in flight, seeking to retrieve material from near-Earth asteroids, the Moon, and eventually Mars.
The visual effects for the new television series Star Trek: Picard show a wonderfully realistic Mars in panoramic views that obviously rely upon NASA and ESA imagery. This article is spoiler-free except for the disclosure of an important event depicted in the opening moments of the show.
Welcome to my 11th annual list of recommended space books for kids! This year I had more than 80 books to read, and I've winnowed the list to recommend 29. There are books for all ages from 0 to 18 and beyond.
A new issue of The Planetary Report brings you our pride in the success of LightSail 2 and our gratitude to our members for making it happen. Plus Venus science from Akatsuki and Venus Express, and the status of planetary defense.
We lost and gained spacecraft at the Moon last quarter. India’s Chandrayaan-2 left Earth orbit for the Moon on 13 August, and its Vikram lander aims at a 7 September touchdown. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter just celebrated its tenth launch anniversary. China’s smallsat Longjiang-2 crashed on 31 July, ending its successful mission.
A montage of 18 of the 20 asteroids and comets that have been photographed up close as of December 2018, when New Horizons flew past Arrokoth. This version is in color but does not show the bodies at their correct relative albedo or brightness. Not included are Vesta or Ceres, both of which are many times larger than Lutetia.
Two weeks before mission's end, Cassini took its final photos documenting the activity of Enceladus' south polar plumes. This photo was taken with the wide-angle camera from the night sides of Saturn and Enceladus and the unlit face of the rings. Enceladus is beyond Saturn as seen from Cassini, its nightside lit by light reflected off of Saturn. The photo has been edited to remove effects of internal reflections within the camera and composited with a narrow-angle image of Enceladus to make the plumes more visible.
A composite of two Cassini narrow-angle camera images of Enceladus, part of the last observations of Enceladus' plumes before the end of the Cassini mission. The two images were taken on 27 and 28 August 2017. The moon is lit nearly from behind; its nightside is illuminated by sunlight that first reflected off of Saturn. Two images were composited in order to make the plumes more visible, and image blemishes have been painted out.