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Emily Lakdawalla

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla (2017, alternate)

Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist

[email protected]
+1-626-793-5100

Extended biography and head shots
List of publications

Emily is available for speaking engagements.

Emily Lakdawalla is an internationally admired science communicator and educator, passionate about advancing public understanding of space and sharing the wonder of scientific discovery.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from Amherst College and a Master of Science degree in planetary geology from Brown University. She came to The Planetary Society in 2001. She has been writing and editing the Planetary Society Blog since 2005, reporting on space news, explaining planetary science, and sharing beautiful space photos. Emily has been an active supporter of the international community of space image processing enthusiasts as Administrator of the forum UnmannedSpaceflight.com since 2005. She is also a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine.

Her first book, titled The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job, was published by Springer-Praxis in March, 2018. The book explains the development, design, and function of Curiosity with the same level of technical detail that she delivers in the Planetary Society Blog. A second book, Curiosity and Its Science Mission: A Mars Rover Goes to Work will follow in 2019.

She was awarded the 2011 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for her blog entry about the Phoebe ring of Saturn. Asteroid 274860 was formally named "Emilylakdawalla" by the International Astronomical Union on July 12, 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from The Open University in 2017 in recognition of her contributions in communicating space science to the public.

Emily can be reached at [email protected] or @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Latest Blog Posts

Programming note

July 01, 2018

Emily Lakdawalla is on vacation from 1 to 22 July. Jason Davis will reign over the blog in her absence.

Curiosity update, sols 2027-2092: Return to drilling at Duluth, sciencing the dust storm

June 29, 2018

Hooray! Curiosity has triumphantly returned to drilling with a successful drill and delivery to its lab instruments at a site named Duluth. It's now studying the dust storm as it drives to new drill sites on Vera Rubin ridge.

Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu, so I can make comparisons of asteroid scales!

June 27, 2018

On 26 June 2018, Hayabusa2 arrived at its target asteroid, Ryugu. In a very brief status update, I present comparisons of Ryugu to other previously visited asteroids and comets.

Hayabusa2 update: New views of Ryugu and corkscrew course adjustments

June 21, 2018

Ryugu has continued to grow in Hayabusa2's forward view, resolving into a diamond-shaped body with visible bumps and craters! They've done hazard searches, optical navigation imaging, and measured the rotation rate at 7.6 hours.

Hayabusa2: Ryugu takes shape

June 14, 2018

Hayabusa2 is now less than 1000 kilometers away from Ryugu, and the tiny asteroid is beginning to betray its shape.

Get ready for OSIRIS-REx at Bennu! ...but be patient.

June 12, 2018

NASA's OSIRIS-REx will get the first sight of its target Bennu in August and go into orbit in December.

Hayabusa2's Approach phase has begun with a new photo of Ryugu!

June 07, 2018

On June 3, Hayabusa2 ended use of its ion engines, for now, and is coasting the remaining distance toward Ryugu. It's using an optical navigation camera to image the asteroid's position against a field of background stars to help it navigate.

So you need questions answered about space

June 01, 2018

A post for kids whose teachers have told them to send emails to scientists asking questions.

Latest Processed Space Images

Map of HiRISE anaglyph image coverage for the Opportunity traverse

Not published yet

Blue boxes denote digital terrain models (DTMs). Green boxes are stereo pairs that are also available as anaglyphs. Purple box indicates an image pair that could potentially be converted into an anaglyph/DTM. Yellow line indicates Opportunity's traverse as of February 2014. Underlying CTX image is at 10 meters per pixel.

Drilling at Duluth, sol 2057

June 29, 2018

This animation of front Hazcam images shows the first successful drill for Curiosity in a year and a half, using the new feed-extended drilling technique. It begins with just drill rotation, but as progress slows, Curiosity turns on drill percussion to help it proceed. You can see when percussion turns on by the disturbance of sand on the block of rock, moved by transmitted vibrations.

Sixteen Curiosity drill holes on Mars

June 29, 2018

As of June 2018, Curiosity has drilled and sampled at 16 locations on Mars. They are (left to right and top to bottom): John Klein, drilled on sol 182; Cumberland, on sol 279; Windjana, on sol 621; Confidence Hills, on sol 759, Mojave, on sol 882; Telegraph Peak, on sol 908; Buckskin, on sol 1060; Big Sky, on sol 1119; Greenhorn, on sol 1137; Lubango, on sol 1320; Okoruso, sol 1332, Oudam, sol 1361; Marimba, sol 1422; Quela, on sol 1464, Sebina, sol 1495, and Duluth, sol 2057. All of these images were taken with the MAHLI camera on the end of the arm from a distance of about 5 centimeters, except for the Sebina one, which was taken from 25 centimeters away and enlarged to match the extent of the others. The drill holes are 1.6 centimeters wide. Most are 6.4 centimeters deep, except for Duluth, which is slightly shallower.

astronaut on Phobos
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