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. In 2018, she became editor of the Society's member magazine, The Planetary Report.
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.
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.
Today at 19:43 UTC, OSIRIS-REx entered orbit at asteroid Bennu. In so doing, it accomplished both the tightest orbit (at an altitude under 2 kilometers) and the orbit of the smallest object ever. UPDATE: Early science results from OSIRIS-REx discussed at New Horizons MU69 flyby event.
Unaffected by the shutdown of the U.S. government, New Horizons is still on course for its New Year’s encounter with 2014 MU69 (nicknamed “Ultima Thule”). This post collects the latest images from New Horizons' approach to the tiny Kuiper belt object and will be updated regularly.
It’s been a busy first three weeks on the InSight mission, and they’ve already achieved a major milestone: placing the seismometer on the ground. They've also gathered a self-portrait and 360-degree panorama.
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.
Two weeks before mission's end, Cassini took its final photos documenting the activity of Enceladus' south polar plumes. This photo was taken with the wide-angle camera from the night sides of Saturn and Enceladus and the unlit face of the rings. Enceladus is beyond Saturn as seen from Cassini, its nightside lit by light reflected off of Saturn. The photo has been edited to remove effects of internal reflections within the camera and composited with a narrow-angle image of Enceladus to make the plumes more visible.
A composite of two Cassini narrow-angle camera images of Enceladus, part of the last observations of Enceladus' plumes before the end of the Cassini mission. The two images were taken on August 27 and 28, 2017. The moon is lit nearly from behind; its nightside is illuminated by sunlight that first reflected off of Saturn. Two images were composited in order to make the plumes more visible, and image blemishes have been painted out.