Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

What's up in the solar system in April 2011

April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.

LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

What's up in the solar system in March 2011

I don't think there's any question what the big event of this month will be: MESSENGER is finally, finally entering orbit at Mercury on March 18 at 00:45 UTC (March 17 at 16:45 for me).

LPSC: Venus

Despite the fact that I began my career in science doing research on Magellan images of Venus, I've often avoided Venus sessions at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference because they've tended to be pointlessly contentious. But I decided to attend the one this year to see how things went.

A nap for Venus Express

According to the latest Venus Express Status Reporton ESA's website, the Near Earth Commissioning Phase of the mission has been completed successfully, and the spacecraft is going to be napping for a few weeks as it continues to cruise toward Venus.

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