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11 May 2015

Sols 980-982: Dodging Sand, Updating ChemCam

by Ryan Anderson The Sol 978 drive stopped after going only a couple meters instead of the expected ~19 meters because Curiosity detected that its wheels were slipping in the sand. The rover periodically takes pictures of its surroundings while driving to make sure that it is actually moving forward and its wheels are not just spinning in place. This was a lesson learned years ago when the Opportunity rover …

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17 May 2011

5th Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Workshop Info

Hi folks, I don’t have much time to write a full post since I have some last minute changes to make to my talk before tomorrow morning, but I wanted to share some info about the workshop for those who want to play along at home. First, if you’re on the Twitter, there are several people at the meeting or following it online, using the hashtag #MSLsite. Speaking of following …

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30 March 2011

First Image of Mercury from Orbit

MESSENGER just returned the first image of Mercury ever taken from orbit around the planet!

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17 March 2011

Orbiting Mercury

In a little over 12 hours, the spacecraft MESSENGER will finally be orbiting the planet Mercury. It’s been a long trip: MESSENGER launched way back in August of 2004 and has spent the intervening time doing flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury. To date it has gone almost 4.9 billion miles.

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8 March 2011

Planetary Decadal Survey

Last night Steve Squyres unveiled the results of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The decadal is a massive document used to chart the course of planetary science for the next ten years, and it drew a huge crowd here at the conference. This decadal was different from previous ones because it specifically was tasked with coming up with a list of missions that would be achievable with the funding available …

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15 February 2011

Latest Stardust NExT Images

Images are still trickling down from the successful flyby of comet Tempel 1 last night. Here is the latest image: You can start to see some details in this one! I was amused to see that the NASA website listing the new images claims that this was taken from a distance of 587.8 trillion miles away! If something looks wrong about that number to you, you’re right. That’s equivalent to …

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14 February 2011

Stardust NExT’s Date with a Comet

Apparently NASA has a rule that the comet Tempel 1 can only be visited on holidays. Back in 2005, on the 4th of July, the Deep Impact spacecraft flew by Tempel 1 and smashed an 816 pound copper bullet into the comet. And now this Valentine’s Day the Stardust spacecraft is taking a look at the aftermath.

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28 January 2011

Remembering Challenger

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle explosion. I was too young to remember the disaster, but it has had a lasting effect on our space program, and I certainly remember the Columbia disaster which occurred when I was an undergraduate. It’s tempting when these sorts of things happen to say that space exploration is too dangerous and too hard and that we should turn back. But that’s exactly the wrong response.

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17 January 2011

NASA TV Spot

I’ve voiced my frustration with NASA TV and the fact that NASA isn’t allowed to make self-promotional TV ads before. Luckily, there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about space, and some of them have video editing skills and access to the internet. So, even though we might never see an ad like this on TV, it at least can go viral online!

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3 January 2011

AGU 2010 – Days 3 and 4: Exoplanets, Impact Basins and Alteration

Now that it’s a New Year, it’s time I wrapped up my AGU 2010 recaps. This post covers Wednesday and Thursday, with lots of good stuff about super-earth exoplanets, impacts on the Moon and Mars, and lasers on Venus!

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