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Emily Lakdawalla

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist

blog@planetary.org
+1-626-793-5100

Extended biography and head shots
List of publications

Emily is available for speaking engagements.

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.

She was awarded the 2011 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for her blog entry about the Phoebe ring of Saturn. Asteroid 274860 was formally named "Emilylakdawalla" by the International Astronomical Union on July 12, 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from The Open University in 2017 in recognition of her contributions in communicating space science to the public.

Emily can be reached at blog@planetary.org or @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Latest Blog Posts

Video Chat From Outer Space With These Custom Wallpapers

April 01, 2020

Since some services like Zoom allow you to create virtual backgrounds, I thought I might offer you the opportunity to take your home office to Mars, or the Moon, or other fun places in space.

Star Trek: Picard Gets the Martian Landscape Right

January 29, 2020

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.

The December Solstice 2019 Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

December 04, 2019

Featuring an article by Abigail Fraeman on what the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity taught us, and one by Javier Gómez-Elvira on the next steps in the search for life on Mars.

Emily Lakdawalla's Recommended Space Books for Kids, 2019

November 13, 2019

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.

The September Equinox 2019 Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

September 03, 2019

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.

Where We Are on 1 October 2019

September 03, 2019

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.

Emily's Recommended Kids' Space Books: Special Apollo 11 Anniversary Edition for July 2019

July 03, 2019

So many Apollo-related books have come out in the first half of 2019 that I decided to cover them in a special summer book-recommendation blog. I have 5 brand-new Apollo-related books to recommend for kids, and include others I've recommended in past years.

InSight Update: A Couple More Tiny Quakes and Heat Probe Progress

July 02, 2019

InSight has detected a couple more small Marsquakes, and the team has lifted the housing of the heat probe off the ground, exposing the top of the mole in a surprisingly wide hole.

Latest Processed Space Images

Small Asteroids and Comets Visited by Spacecraft as of December 2018, in Color

February 25, 2020

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.

A last look at Enceladus' plumes with Saturn

October 23, 2019

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 last look at Enceladus' plumes

October 23, 2019

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.

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