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

Curiosity Update, Sols 2313-2387: Two New Drill Holes Despite Memory Problems

The Curiosity team is touring Glen Torridon, the Valley of Clay, south of Vera Rubin Ridge, happily photographing everything and zapping rocks. It’s clearly a delight for the team to be in a place they’ve been hoping to reach for 7 years.

InSight Detects Some Very Small Marsquakes

InSight has finally detected its first Marsquakes, but so far, none have been large enough to produce good science. Still, it’s great news that the seismometer is producing sensible data.

First Science Results from Hayabusa2 Mission

The Hayabusa2 team held a press briefing last week at LPSC to report newly published results on asteroid Ryugu.

Where We Are on 1 April 2019

Emily Lakdawalla takes us on a tour of the spacecraft currently exploring from within our solar system. All planets and spacecraft locations are shown at their location for April 1st, 2019.

The March Equinox Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of the March Equinox issue of The Planetary Report: “Inside the Ice Giants.” The print issue shipped to members yesterday!

InSight Update, Sol 92: The Mole Did Hit a Rock

The HP3 mole started hammering itself today, and almost immediately (after just 5 minutes) appears to have encountered a rock. No matter; they'll try again Saturday.

Fun With a New Data Set: The OSIRIS-REx Earth Flyby

The OSIRIS-REx team recently issued their first data release to the Planetary Data System. This release doesn’t include any closeup pictures of asteroid Bennu, but it does include all the pictures they took during their September 2017 Earth flyby.

InSight update, sols 43-83: Instrument placement complete

InSight has placed its second science instrument on the ground and set it free. Now it's time to bury the heat probe in the soil.

Touchdown for InSight's Heat Probe

InSight has gone two for two, placing the second of its instruments gently on the Martian ground.

Looking Back at MU69

A crescent view of MU69 reveals its bizarre shape. Let's look at lots of other fun-shaped space crescents.

Curiosity Update, Sols 2257-2312: Drilling at Rock Hall and Arrival at the Valley of Clay

Curiosity completed work at Vera Rubin Ridge with an easy drilling activity at Rock Hall. Now it has finally driven on to mineral-rick rocks that were seen from orbit, long before Curiosity arrived. The team plans a lengthy traverse of the clay-bearing unit.

InSight Milestone: Wind and Thermal Shield Placed Sol 66

InSight mission has successfully placed the wind and thermal shield over the seismometer. The seismometer will now be shielded from winds and kept warm over the cold Martian nights, so the quality of its data should dramatically increase.

Why are there no stars in most space images?

Look up at space at night from a dark location and you can see innumerable stars. Why, then, do photos of so many things in space show black space, devoid of stars?

A few new images of MU69

New Horizons is back in action after going quiet for a period of solar conjunction following the 1 January flyby of 2014 MU69 (informally nicknamed

InSight Update, sols 25-42: Seismometer sensors working!

Engineers have leveled the seismometer and made progress on adjusting the position of the tether so that it doesn't interfere for the experiment. Most significantly for the mission, they have balanced the Very Broad Band sensors -- 3 of SEIS’ 6 seismic sensors -- and confirmed that they are generating good data.

MU69 appears as a bi-lobed baby comet in latest New Horizons images

The latest images downlinked from New Horizons show MU69 to be a textbook example of a contact binary. How do contact binaries form? Updated with images released on 3 January.

News brief: OSIRIS-REx arrives in orbit at Bennu

Today at 19:43 UTC, OSIRIS-REx entered orbit at asteroid Bennu. In so doing, it accomplished both the tightest orbit (at an altitude under 2 kilometers) and the orbit of the smallest object ever. UPDATE: Early science results from OSIRIS-REx discussed at New Horizons MU69 flyby event.

New Horizons fast approaching 2014 MU69

Unaffected by the shutdown of the U.S. government, New Horizons is still on course for its New Year’s encounter with 2014 MU69 (nicknamed “Ultima Thule”). This post collects the latest images from New Horizons' approach to the tiny Kuiper belt object and will be updated regularly.

InSight update, sols 1-24: Operations begin, first instrument deployed

It’s been a busy first three weeks on the InSight mission, and they’ve already achieved a major milestone: placing the seismometer on the ground. They've also gathered a self-portrait and 360-degree panorama.

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