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

DPS 2013: The fascination of tiny worlds

In which I summarize Joe Veverka's Kuiper Prize talk at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting:

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: A problem of cartography

Last Thursday at the Pluto Science Conference there was a surprising and interesting talk by Amanda Zangari, who pointed out a serious problem with Pluto cartography.

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!

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Stardust at Tempel 1

Yesterday the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Stardust at Tempel 1: The First Second Trip to a Comet.

Stardust update: last image taken today

According to the Stardust website, the spacecraft has continued taking navigational camera images of Tempel 1 since last Monday's flyby. But

Sounds of Stardust, and a cool morphed Tempel 1 video

Here's two more items from Tuesday's flyby of comet Tempel 1 by the Stardust spacecraft to add to my previous roundup of Tempel 1 data. The first represents data from a dust counting instrument, portrayed as sound, and the second is a terrific morph animation of the flyby produced by Daniel Macháček.

Some early scientific impressions of Stardust's Tempel 1 flyby

I've spent a day with the Stardust images from Tempel 1, and had a chat with co-investigator Jessica Sunshine, so here are a bunch of images with some preliminary scientific commentary.

Highlights from today's Stardust Tempel 1 press briefing

It was a very happy science team at this afternoon's press briefing following the Stardust encounter with Tempel 1.

Quick-and-dirty animation of Stardust Tempel 1 images through closest approach

Here's a quick-and-dirty animated GIF of the 39 images of Tempel 1 that have arrived on Earth so far from Stardust. I've put a big watermark on this animation because it's not a final product.

High-res images of Tempel 1 from Stardust now arriving

I really didn't expect these images to look so good! I'd prepared myself for blurry images and a lot of squinting to try to match up features in pictures between Deep Impact and Stardust views of Tempel 1, but in fact the resemblance is obvious and you can clearly see that they successfully imaged the area in which Deep Impact's Impactor craft collided with the comet.

First image from Stardust! ...but a delay for the close-approach ones

Here it is, the first image from Stardust of Tempel 1 during the close-approach phase!

Stardust flies by Tempel 1 in 5 hours, and I'll be watching!

Stardust is very close to the last major act of its mission: the flyby of Tempel 1, which will take place at 20:40 PST (04:40 UTC). Here's a summary of the recent and current status of the mission, and how to follow the events over the next 24 hours.

Stardust update: Almost to Tempel 1

We're coming up on the final days of Stardust's approach to Tempel 1. The flyby takes place on February 15 at 04:56 UTC (February 14 at 20:56 PST).

Stardust update: Tempel 1 Ahoy!

It is with great relief that I now report that JPL announced this evening the sighting of Tempel 1 by Stardust, a mere month before the planned flyby.

Stardust update: Tempel 1 not yet spotted by spacecraft, hopefully next week

A new update has been posted to the Stardust website: The spacecraft continues to operate as expected and all subsystems are healthy on approach to comet Tempel 1.

Stardust prepares for first second look at a comet: Tempel 1 on February 14

A press briefing was held at NASA Headquarters this morning to preview the planned February 14 encounter by Stardust with Tempel 1. There aren't often lots of questions from media after these

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011

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.

Stardust mission update: 38 days to Tempel 1

Stardust is healthy after performing a

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.

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