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Welcome, everyone, to the Planetary Society Blog for the 191st Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.
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.
Today the MESSENGER mission held a press briefing to show off some of the first images and other data that are streaming in from the spacecraft, now that it has entered Mercury orbit.
This is MESSENGER's very first photo from Mercury orbit, a wide-angle view that reaches right to Mercury's south pole, exposing a very tiny sliver of territory not previously seen by spacecraft.
Just a brief post to announce that at 01:00 UTC MESSENGER completed a 15-minute burn of its main engines to enter orbit at Mercury!
The day is finally here! In only five and a half hours, at 00:45 on March 18 (according to the spacecraft's clock), MESSENGER must ignite its main engine and run though a third of its fuel in only 15 minutes in order to enter its planned orbit around Mercury.
Today the MESSENGER team briefed the press on the impending arrival of their spacecraft at Mercury.
I've got another 365 Days of Astronomy podcast airing today, this one an overview of the MESSENGER mission with particular attention to what's been learned in the three Mercury flybys, and what's going to happen when it enters orbit only a little more than three days from now!
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).
Space probes grant us perspective, the ability to see our place within the vastness of the solar system. But opportunities to see all of the solar system's planets in one observation are rare. In fact, there's only been one opportunity on one mission to see the whole solar system at once, until now.
Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011, about what to look forward to in solar system exploration this year.
Time to open the thirtieth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this ridged crater?
Time to open the second door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Can you guess where this crater-scarred surface lies?
MESSENGER is in a unique position in the solar system, orbiting the Sun well within the orbit of Venus. From there, it can gaze outward from the Sun to search for tiny objects that may possibly be traveling in the same region, called vulcanoids.
A good start to my day today: The New York Times' Lens Blog featured the
Well, it's already mid-day on the Friday a week after the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference ended and I'm STILL not done writing up my notes.
The United States Geological Survey has just released a new atlas of Mercury, the first to be based upon the three flybys worth of image data gathered by the MESSENGER mission.
This week's Carnival of Space may be found at Steve's Astro Corner.
Mercury is the smallest of the eight planets and, like Uranus and Neptune, has so far been studied only during flyby encounters.
As MESSENGER zoomed toward Mercury for its third flyby, it was commanded to rotate in a maneuver that would help it test a surprising result from the second flyby.