A new issue of The Planetary Report brings you our pride in the success of LightSail 2 and our gratitude to our members for making it happen. Plus Venus science from Akatsuki and Venus Express, and the status of planetary defense.
We lost and gained spacecraft at the Moon last quarter. India’s Chandrayaan-2 left Earth orbit for the Moon on 13 August, and its Vikram lander aims at a 7 September touchdown. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter just celebrated its tenth launch anniversary. China’s smallsat Longjiang-2 crashed on 31 July, ending its successful mission.
So many Apollo-related books have come out in the first half of 2019 that I decided to cover them in a special summer book-recommendation blog. I have 5 brand-new Apollo-related books to recommend for kids, and include others I've recommended in past years.
With Comet Interceptor, ESA plans to meet a comet on its first trip into the inner solar system. The mission was selected yesterday after a fast-track proposal process and will be developed on a rapid (for ESA) timeline, with a launch planned for 2028.
Last week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission announced that they had achieved an orbit above asteroid Bennu with an altitude of only 680 meters. Now they are surveying for landing sites and have invited the public's help.
Preparations for the ExoMars rover mission are in their final stages. ESA made two announcements today: ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is shifting orbit, and they officially opened a new Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC) in Turin, Italy.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has successfully imaged the impact site of the Beresheet lander, which made a really good run at performing the first privately funded Moon landing on 11 April, but crashed after the failure of its main engine.
The Curiosity team is touring Glen Torridon, the Valley of Clay, south of Vera Rubin Ridge, happily photographing everything and zapping rocks. It’s clearly a delight for the team to be in a place they’ve been hoping to reach for 7 years.
The OSIRIS-REx team recently issued their first data release to the Planetary Data System. This release doesn’t include any closeup pictures of asteroid Bennu, but it does include all the pictures they took during their September 2017 Earth flyby.
Curiosity completed work at Vera Rubin Ridge with an easy drilling activity at Rock Hall. Now it has finally driven on to mineral-rick rocks that were seen from orbit, long before Curiosity arrived. The team plans a lengthy traverse of the clay-bearing unit.
InSight mission has successfully placed the wind and thermal shield over the seismometer. The seismometer will now be shielded from winds and kept warm over the cold Martian nights, so the quality of its data should dramatically increase.
New Horizons is back in action after going quiet for a period of solar conjunction following the 1 January flyby of 2014 MU69 (informally nicknamed "Ultima Thule"). The spacecraft is returning new data, as exemplified by these images.
Engineers have leveled the seismometer and made progress on adjusting the position of the tether so that it doesn't interfere for the experiment. Most significantly for the mission, they have balanced the Very Broad Band sensors -- 3 of SEIS’ 6 seismic sensors -- and confirmed that they are generating good data.
New Horizons has "phoned home" as expected, 4 hours after its closest approach to 2014 MU69. Its brief transmission contained no science data, but gave the scientists welcome news: New Horizons has successfully pulled off the most distant flyby ever.
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