Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2010
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/31 08:04 CST
This week is the end for Kodachrome film. It's a casualty of the digital revolution.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/30 02:53 CST
Ready for the New Year? It's going to be an exciting one.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/29 12:14 CST
Did you know that before Bill Nye was the Planetary Guy or even the Science Guy he was an aerospace engineer, designing components for the Boeing 747?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/29 11:36 CST
SOHO was launched more than 15 years ago to study the Sun, primarily; but a side benefit of its constant observation of the Sun has been its ability to notice "sungrazers," comets that are on deadly close approaches to our star.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/27 03:27 CST
In a move that's kind of hard to understand in the wake of the immense public outreach success of the Hayabusa mission, JAXA is closing JAXA i, its public information center in Tokyo today (December 28 in Japan).
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/20 01:27 CST
Ordinarily it's not my thing to do so many updates on a mission that failed to arrive in orbit, but I know that it's difficult for English-speaking readers to locate information on Asian missions so I'm keeping up the reporting on Akatsuki.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/20 11:07 CST
Time to open the twentieth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this diffuse blob and stripy sea?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/20 10:55 CST
Unless you live under a rock you probably know that there is a total lunar eclipse tonight, one that should be particularly favorable for viewing from North America but which will be at least partially visible to viewers in South America, Europe, and easternmost Asia and Australia too.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/17 10:44 CST
The Hayabusa update is brief: having opened the first Hayabusa sample return chamber (compartment A) last month, JAXA has now opened compartment B, and they found nothing inside.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/15 02:40 CST
Today Opportunity has driven to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater, and the blocks around it are really, really cool-looking. This one is a dead ringer for the severed tail of an alligator.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/14 01:18 CST
Opportunity is on a kilometers-long eastward road trip across Meridiani Planum toward the rim of a large ancient crater named Endeavour; it'll be many months yet before she gets there.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/11 02:35 CST
Time to open the eleventh door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system are these sinuous ridges?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/10 05:26 CST
An English-language article in the December 11 Yomiuri Shimbun summarizes the news from the Akatsuki press briefing held at 11:00 December 10 JST (last night, my time). It's succinct and clear so I'm reposting it here.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/10 04:10 CST
I'm going to just one day of the enormous annual American Geophysical Union meeting next week, and I am actually presenting a talk!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/08 12:07 CST
"Falcon 9 nailed it!" said Bill Nye said this morning, congratulating SpaceX on what has looked like a flawless launch, orbit, and return of the Dragon capsule aboard its Falcon 9 rocket.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/08 11:45 CST
JAXA held two press briefings about Akatsuki yesterday. Reports in both English and Japanese based on these press briefings have cleared up some, but not all, of the mystery about what happened and what is to happen with Akatsuki.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/08 10:50 CST
I meant to get these posted weeks ago, along with my reviews of kids' space books, but better late than never!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/07 11:01 CST
A press release (PDF) was posted in Japanese on the Akatsuki website this morning with some official information on the mission status. Here is a translation of the text.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/06 09:07 CST
I was unable to follow Akatsuki's entry into Venus orbit in real time due to family obligations. Checking in now, about four hours after it was to have entered orbit, it seems that something did not go correctly, but not much information is available.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/03 04:20 CST
Time to open the third door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system is this wispy terrain?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/02 03:28 CST
Time to open the second door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Can you guess where this crater-scarred surface lies?
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/01 11:05 CST
December really has arrived, and that means that the year is racing to a close. Continuing last year's tradition, I'm counting the days to the New Year with an advent calendar, where each "door" opens onto a global image of a different world in the solar system.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/29 08:38 CST
This was a fun image released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera science team. Take a look at it and see if you can figure out what the significance of the red arrow is.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/24 06:37 CST
I'm surprised no one's emailed me demanding the last batch of Voyager mission status bulletins! Well, here they are.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/23 07:41 CST
Europe is apparently of the mind that science and technology will help to carry them out of tough economic times, and has made three-year commitments to continue the in-space operations of 11 missions through 2014.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/22 04:18 CST
Two brief but significant news items today made me stop and think about how far we've come in space travel.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/22 04:09 CST
Ever since I first saw Tyler Nordgren's awe-inspiring photographs of the Milky Way arching above the natural wonders of the national parks, I knew I wanted them on my wall. Well, now I can get them, and you can too.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/18 01:52 CST
Today the Deep Impact/EPOXI science team held a press briefing that followed up on their very successful flyby of two weeks ago, a status report on what they can say so far about the science that's coming out of the encounter.
Just in time for today's Deep Impact press briefing, which you can watch on NASA TV in a few minutes: I've updated my montage of all the asteroids and comets that have been visited and photographed to include Hartley 2.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/17 04:36 CST
Since I posted an update Monday about JAXA confirming extraterrestrial samples in the Hayabusa sample return capsule, JAXA has posted an English-language version of their press release, which contains a bit more information.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/17 10:39 CST
Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, What's in a Science Meeting?, about what scientists do at big meetings like the Division of Planetary Sciences.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/15 09:03 CST
It's official: in a press release today, JAXA announced that some 1,500 dust grains scraped from the interior of Hayabusa's clean-looking sample return capsule are not of terrestrial origin so must be from Itokawa.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/14 03:26 CST
I couldn't believe these videos when I first saw them: five views from engineering cameras of important events in the Chang'E 2 spacecraft's journey to the Moon.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/11 09:13 CST
I attended all day Tuesday of the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting on October 5. The afternoon session on Tuesday was a grab bag about different small objects in the outermost solar system.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/10 04:46 CST
In the last few days, Opportunity's passed by several craters, and the rover drivers took advantage of the chance encounters for what they call "drive-by shooting" (a phrase I can't say I'm particularly fond of, but they didn't ask me).
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/09 01:13 CST
On Thursday, November 4, at 13:50 UTC, Deep Impact flew within 700 kilometers of comet Hartley 2. Hartley 2 is the smallest and most active of the five comets that have been directly by a spacecraft, and the first to be visited within the lifetime of its discoverer.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/08 04:48 CST
Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/05 06:17 CDT
I had to catch up with tasks left undone at home today and didn't have time to write up my notes from the Hartley 2 press briefing, for which I apologize. I'll leave you for the weekend with three cool Hartley 2 pictures.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/04 11:24 CDT
Those of you who follow my blog must have known this was coming: now that I got all five new Deep Impact images of Comet Hartley 2 posted and explained, I had to make an animation. Here they are.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/04 10:58 CDT
Here's the five close-approach images of Hartley 2 captured today, November 4, 2010, by the Deep Impact spacecraft, collected into one file. Boy, do these images reward close examination!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/04 09:16 CDT
Just a very brief update to congratulate the Deep Impact team on what was apparently a successful flyby of Hartley 2!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/03 03:39 CDT
According to the mission timeline, the Deep Impact high-resolution observations of Hartley 2 are beginning in just a few minutes, at 20:50 according to the clock on the spacecraft.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/01 03:50 CDT
Just a linky post here.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.