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

Proposals to Explore the Solar System’s Smallest Worlds

Van Kane rounds up some of the latest NASA Discovery mission proposals aiming to explore our solar system's smallest bodies.

New Deep Impact Hartley 2 data set

Just messing around with a recently released processed version of the Deep Impact Hartley 2 data set.

My ever-popular asteroids-and-comets montage, now in color, with bonus Toutatis

My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.

Brief notes from Day 2 of the DPS-EPSC meeting

It's been a very full day at the DPS-EPSC 2011 joint meeting. My day was less full than it might have been, because I overslept and missed most of the morning's session. I really needed the rest though so I think it was probably for the best!

LPSC 2011: Kirby Runyon on Mars, the Moon, Hartley 2, and Ganymede

Kirby Runyon, a second-year grad student at Temple University, offered to send me some writeups of selected presentations from last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, and I enthusiastically agreed.

LPSC 2011: Day 3: Deep Impact at Hartley 2

Wednesday's sessions at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) on the Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2 were one of two that I was most looking forward to, the other being this morning's talks on Hayabusa's samples from Itokawa, about which I don't yet have any notes. I am again grateful to Franck Marchis and Andy Rivkin for sending me their notes on Hartley 2.

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.

Deep Impact at Hartley 2: Two weeks after the flyby

Today the Deep Impact/EPOXI science team held a press briefing that followed up on their very successful flyby of two weeks ago, a status report on what they can say so far about the science that's coming out of the encounter.

Asteroids and comets to scale, including Hartley 2

Just in time for today's Deep Impact press briefing, which you can watch on NASA TV in a few minutes: I've updated my montage of all the asteroids and comets that have been visited and photographed to include Hartley 2.

In which I finally write up last week's Deep Impact Hartley 2 press briefing

On Thursday, November 4, at 13:50 UTC, Deep Impact flew within 700 kilometers of comet Hartley 2. Hartley 2 is the smallest and most active of the five comets that have been directly by a spacecraft, and the first to be visited within the lifetime of its discoverer.

Hartley 2 compared to other comets, and in motion 3D

I had to catch up with tasks left undone at home today and didn't have time to write up my notes from the Hartley 2 press briefing, for which I apologize. I'll leave you for the weekend with three cool Hartley 2 pictures.

Five close-approach images of Hartley 2 by Deep Impact, with commentary

Here's the five close-approach images of Hartley 2 captured today, November 4, 2010, by the Deep Impact spacecraft, collected into one file. Boy, do these images reward close examination!

Close approach images of Hartley 2!

What a dramatic and cool photo! An asteroid with two lobes like Borrelly, lumpy and bouldery like Itokawa, with gorgeous active jets, dramatically lit. Well done, Deep Impact team!

Hartley 2's jets

It was a very happy set of scientists, engineers, managers, and administrators who filled the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Von Karman auditorium this afternoon to do the postgame show on Deep Impact's flyby of Hartley 2.

Animation of the five closest-approach Hartley 2 images

Those of you who follow my blog must have known this was coming: now that I got all five new Deep Impact images of Comet Hartley 2 posted and explained, I had to make an animation. Here they are.

Deep Impact movies of outbursts from Hartley 2

Since comet Hartley 2 -- the target of Deep Impact's November 4 flyby -- is near its perihelion, it's no surprise that it's an active comet with lots of outbursts.

Three days until Deep Impact's encounter with Hartley 2

The week is finally here: Deep Impact flies past Hartley 2, the smallest comet yet to be visited by a spacecraft, on Thursday, November 4 at 13:50 UTC.

Arecibo images show Hartley 2 is elongated

Comet Hartley 2, the target for Deep Impact's close flyby (now just six days away!) made its closest approach to Earth on October 20, at a distance of 17.7 million kilometers.

A couple of tidbits from today's Deep Impact preview briefing

Today was the press briefing that previewed the upcoming Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2.

Deep Impact approaching Hartley 2

The Deep Impact spacecraft team has released a third image from their approach to comet Hartley 2, and for me, three images is an invitation to make an animation!

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