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

Watching Phobos pass by Jupiter

Here is a really cool view of Phobos in the foreground with gigantic (but very distant) Jupiter sitting in the background, a fortuitous alignment that the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera team took advantage of on June 1.

Rosetta has entered its long sleep

One big space event that I missed while I was on vacation was Rosetta's entry into hibernation. Rosetta is the biggest interplanetary spacecraft that has been launched by ESA, and it has the groundbreaking goal of entering orbit around a comet and dropping a lander onto it.

Place names on Lutetia

Whenever we explore someplace new -- a new island, a new continent, a new cave, a new world -- there's a necessary activity that explorers must perform before they can sensibly tell the world about their discoveries: name things.

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.

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).

Rosetta Update: 98% of rendezvous burn achieved, more detail on the safing event

ESA's Rosetta comet chaser has achieved 98% of the velocity change that it needed to accomplish in order to set itself up for the final leg of its cruise to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The original plan was to perform this velocity change in a series of five rocket burns at the end of January, but the plans were interrupted by a scary event: the spacecraft went into safe mode during the second burn, on January 18.

Rosetta update: Scary safe mode, but all's well now

The Rosetta blog has been strangely quiet of late, after they had been quite actively posting updates on the status of Rosetta during a critical series of orbit adjustment burns, which I wrote about two weeks ago.

Rosetta burns for its comet

Rosetta -- Europe's comet-chasing spacecraft -- is in the middle of a three-day series of rocket firings that are setting the geometry for its rendezvous with comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Small Worlds

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Small Worlds, about the smaller denizens of the solar system visited in the past year, and due to be visited in the next.

Color portrait of asteroid 21 Lutetia

Since it doesn't look like the Rosetta mission is going to be releasing any color versions of their Lutetia close-encounter images any time soon, I figured it was time to make one.

Rosetta's Lutetia pictures

I saw these pictures for the first time just 10 minutes before boarding my flight back home, and forced myself to download everything I could find as quickly as possible without pausing to actually look at them.

Lutetia -- and Saturn!!

A quick post of just one of the gorgeous images from Rosetta's flyby of Lutetia today; for more, see the Rosetta Blog. But this one was just too pretty to wait for.

Rosetta's Lutetia navigation campaign complete

Rosetta's most important job over the last few months has been to observe how the position of asteroid (21) Lutetia shifts against the background of fixed (fixed, that is, as far as Rosetta can see) stars.

Three days to Lutetia for Rosetta!

On July 10, 2010, at 15:44:56 UTC, the Rosetta spacecraft will fly within 3,162 kilometers of the largest asteroid yet visited by a spacecraft.

Results from the Rosetta Encounter with Asteroid 2867 Steins

Last week in Science magazine appeared the first peer-reviewed article on the results of Rosetta's September 2008 encounter with the smallish main-belt asteroid Steins. This morning I got a chance to sit down and read the article, and I wrote up a summary.

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