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

Cassini, Day By Day

I've just resurrected a feature on the site that has been lost since our redesign: the

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Descends Husband Hill as Opportunity Works at a Standstill on Olympia

The Mars Exploration Rovers have each completed their first Mars Year (687 Earth days) and are close to completing their second Earth year exploring their respective sites on the Red Planet. With both Spirit and Opportunity finding new variations of bedrock in the areas they are exploring, the mission is continuing to send the team holiday gifts in the form of intriguing discoveries.

A debate in Meridiani Planum

There was a big news splash about two articles that appeared in Nature about Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's landing site. The articles suggest two theories for the formation of the layered sulfur-rich deposits at Meridiani Planum that do not involve standing liquid water.

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.

Vote for Cassini!

Time Magazine is running an Image of the Year contest, and at the moment, a Cassini image is in 2nd place!

Update: Getting Started

The Planetary Society solar sail team is working to try again to fly the world’s first solar sail spacecraft.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Achieves Martian Year Milestone while Opportunity Reveals Harsh Challenges for Past Martian Life

In its orbit around the Sun, the Red Planet has been returning to where it was when the Mars Exploration Rovers first landed back in January 2004, and, as the twin robot field geologists are marking the milestone of their first Martian year -- equivalent to almost two Earth years -- fireworks are flashing all around the planet. Although the cause of the fireworks is actually debris from Halley's comet, through which Mars is currently passing, the timing seems so metaphorically appropriate.

Thruster trouble for Hayabusa

Hayabusa has been riding an incredible wave of luck lately, resulting in the dramatic success of the sample grab last week. But it looks as though Hayabusa's luck may be running out.

Closer still to Itokawa

Hayabusa reached an altitude of about 560 meters above Hayabusa at 17:30 UTC. And at 18:00 UTC they are at 500 meters. This is still farther above the asteroid than the asteroid is big...there is still a long way to go before Hayabusa touches down...

A gap in the Hayabusa telemetry, as the Earth rotates

If I understand the various sources(and my somewhat vague memory) correctly, it now appears that Earth has rotated far enough to take the Deep Space Network station at Goldstone, through which Hayabusa has been transmitting, out of line with Hayabusa.

Getting ready for Hayabusa's touchdown

In a further update on Hayabusa's status, we have been contacted by Kazuya Yoshida of the Space Robotics Laboratory at Tohuku University. Yoshida reports that the touchdown is now planned to take place

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