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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2011

New Horizons Day 2: Tectonic features on icy worlds

Emily Lakdawalla • September 09, 2011

The second day of the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes was about geology and geophysics. This long post just covers the first talk of that day.

GRAIL update: Next launch attempt planned for Saturday

Emily Lakdawalla • September 08, 2011

Just a brief update: SpaceflightNow reports no attempt will be made to launch GRAIL tomorrow. The next launch opportunity is Saturday.

From the "Just Plain Cool" department: Time-lapse photo of GRAIL's Delta 2 tower rollback

Emily Lakdawalla • September 08, 2011

The terrific launch photographer Ben Cooper is at the Cape waiting for GRAIL's Delta 2 rocket to take off, and last night he took this very cool photo.

Blast from the past: Pioneer 10 and 11 pictures of Jupiter

Emily Lakdawalla • September 07, 2011

Here's a few pretty pictures that were recently dusted off by Ted Stryk. Pioneer 10 and 11 passed by Jupiter on December 4, 1973, and December 3, 1974, respectively. Here are three pictures from those two encounters, in versions newly processed by Ted from scanned photographic prints found during a research trip to NASA's Ames Research Center.

How to watch the GRAIL launch on Thursday

Emily Lakdawalla • September 06, 2011

The twin spacecraft of the GRAIL lunar gravity mission are set to launch side-by-side on a Delta II rocket on Thursday, September 8. Here's all the places where you can find information about the upcoming launch.

Titan crater and programming note

Emily Lakdawalla • September 02, 2011

The summer is winding to a close but it's not quite over for me -- by which I mean my children -- yet.

What's up in the solar system in September 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • August 31, 2011

September is going to start with a bang: the twin GRAIL spacecraft are set for launch on September 8. I would love to be able to attend the launch but my older daughter's first day of kindergarten is September 7! That's a launch of a different kind.

New Horizons workshop, day 1: Chemistry & climate on Pluto & other cold places

Emily Lakdawalla • August 30, 2011

Today and tomorrow I'm attending the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes. The first day was all about the composition of the surface and atmosphere of Pluto, Charon, Triton, and other distant places.

Pretty picture: Earth and Moon from JunoCam

Emily Lakdawalla • August 30, 2011

It's always awe-inspiring to see our great world as just a tiny spot within vast space. The latest spacecraft to get such a view of Earth and the Moon is the Jupiter-bound Juno.

Everybody says we need a NEO survey telescope

Emily Lakdawalla • August 30, 2011

The next thing needed by both the small bodies science community and people interested in human exploration is a space-based telescope capable of surveying (and following up on) near-Earth space for asteroids that, for a variety of reasons, haven't been found yet.

The Making of Martian Clouds in Motion: Part 2, tweening the animation

Emily Lakdawalla • August 28, 2011

Two weeks ago I posted an awesome video of Martian clouds in motion. Last week I explained how I accessed the Mars Express images that comprise the animation. Today I'm going to explain how I turned the five-frame animation of Mars Express images into a smooth movie.

The Cornell Clock

Emily Lakdawalla • August 26, 2011

Bill Nye, the Executive Director of the Planetary Society will be at his alma mater, Cornell University, this Saturday, August 27, for the dedication of a remarkable Solar Noon Clock that has been installed on the front face of Rhodes Hall on the Cornell campus.

Holey Hyperion!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 26, 2011

Yesterday Cassini passed unusually close by Hyperion, the oddly shaped moon that orbits Saturn just beyond Titan. Among the many cool images captured during this flyby were three that I used to make this neato view of Hyperion's crescent.

Nifty GRAIL animation

Emily Lakdawalla • August 25, 2011

A pair of lunar spacecraft is launching in two weeks, and NASA had their preview press briefing this morning. Notable from that briefing was this spiffy video.

Meeting today: The infelicitously named "SBAG"

Emily Lakdawalla • August 25, 2011

NASA funds regular meetings of scientists who work on different parts of the solar system to provide scientific input into NASA's future plans. These "analysis groups" are known by their acronyms, all of which sound kind of horrible, but none has quite as terrible-sounding an acronym as "SBAG," usually pronouced "ess-bag," the Small Bodies Assessment Group.

Pretty picture: Saturn from very close up

Emily Lakdawalla • August 24, 2011

I haven't checked in on Cassini lately. I went to the raw images page and found the frames for this very lovely, very close view of Saturn. It was taken by Cassini two days ago, as it was approaching periapsis.

365 Days of Astronomy seeks podcasters and supporters

Emily Lakdawalla • August 23, 2011

365 Days of Astronomy is a daily podcast that is almost entirely user-driven. Each podcast, which can cover astronomical, cosmological, planetological, or educational topics, is written, recorded, and submitted by people like you who are excited about space.

The Making of Martian Clouds in Motion: Part 1, working with Mars Express HRSC data

Emily Lakdawalla • August 22, 2011

Last Friday I posted an awesome video of Martian clouds in motion. This week I'll tell you how I made it. The how-to is split up into two parts. The first, today, is how to access Mars Express HRSC image data and process it into the individual animation frames, from which you can make an animated GIF.

Shoemaker NEO Grant Update: Asteroid discoveries from La Sagra

Jaime Nomen • August 22, 2011

In spite of some bad weather conditions during the first part of this year, the new camera bought with funds from a Planetary Society Shoemaker Near Earth Object grant helped us to discover and confirm ten new near-Earth objects.

Martian clouds in motion

Emily Lakdawalla • August 19, 2011

Behold an amazing (if I do say so myself) video of Martian clouds in motion.

Rapping the elements, by Oortkuiper

Emily Lakdawalla • August 18, 2011

This is a bit of a departure from space science, but was so awesome, I had to share. I've always loved Tom Lehrer's "The Elements." Well, Youtube user Oortkuiper has done him an order of magnitude better.

GRAIL twins together on their rocket

Emily Lakdawalla • August 18, 2011

It's the first time I've ever seen anything like this -- two identical spacecraft, side by side on one launch adapter ring.

Gale's not the only Martian crater with an "enigmatic mound"

Emily Lakdawalla • August 17, 2011

Much has been made of the "enigmatic mound" within Gale crater, which will be the target of the Curiosity Mars rover's investigations. The 5,000-meter-thick section rocks in Gale's central mound will be fascinating to study, but the fact that Gale has a central mound that's taller than its rim is not at all unusual on Mars.

Vesta's wacky craters

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

Dawn's images of Vesta show craters upon craters, but the longer I study the images, the wackier the craters look.

In their own words

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

While doing my daily reading today I was struck by the awesomeness of two recent blog posts. Both were composed not by professional bloggers like me but by professional space explorers, one a scientist and the other an engineer.

Looking down on a shooting star

Emily Lakdawalla • August 15, 2011

This photo is making the rounds of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and whatever other social network you care to name today. It was shot by astronaut Ron Garan from the Space Station, and it's a meteor seen from above. Way cool.

Comet Garradd in 3D (sort of)

Emily Lakdawalla • August 12, 2011

Amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins sent me this neat little animation of comet Garradd moving against background stars through an hour's worth of observing. I'm not any kind of astronomer but if I were I think I would get a kick out of looking at things that appear to move within one night of watching -- asteroids, comets, Jupiter's spots. I'm impatient that way.

The role of press releases in space news coverage

Emily Lakdawalla • August 11, 2011

I was not trained as a journalist, so before I started working for the Planetary Society I had no understanding of how much news reporters depend upon press releases to generate story ideas. Did you know that most of the news that you read on the Web or in a newspaper or hear on the radio probably originated as a press release or an arranged press event from somewhere?

Wheels on Cape York!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 10, 2011

Opportunity's wheels are on a whole new different kind of rock: she has arrived at the rim of Endeavour crater, on Cape York.

Spirit Point and Odyssey crater in sight, and new rock under Opportunity's wheels

Emily Lakdawalla • August 07, 2011

Opportunity is at her goal. In this 3D anaglyph, taken on sol 2678 (yesterday, August 6, 2011), Opportunity's wheels are resting on strange lumpy bedrock.

Junocam will get us great global shots down onto Jupiter's poles

Emily Lakdawalla • August 05, 2011

Juno is a mission that will peer deeply into Jupiter's interior, and didn't really need to take a visible-light camera along in order to accomplish its scientific goals. But I think nobody could bear sending a spacecraft to Jupiter without getting pictures from up close. So they added Junocam.

Juno is on the way to Jupiter!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 05, 2011

It almost looked like it wasn't going to happen today, but it did! At 16:25 UTC, a huge Atlas V 551 lifted off with the Juno spacecraft and sent it on its way to Jupiter.

Fun for the whole family: Watch an enormous rocket blast a spacecraft to Jupiter!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 04, 2011

Do you have kids at home for the summer? Treat them to a spectacular fireworks show by tuning in tomorrow morning to watch Juno blast off to Jupiter!

Pretty picture: five moons for Cassini

Emily Lakdawalla • August 03, 2011

Explaining how to combine the red, green and blue images from a recent Cassini image session containing five of Saturn's moons: Janus, Pandora, Enceladus, Mimas and Rhea.

What I see in the first high-res Dawn images of Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2011

I had to wait until the kids were in bed and the husband fed last night before I finally had time to sit down and really look at the Dawn images of Vesta. And I still hardly knew where to begin. This brand new world is just so different than others I've seen.

On speculation in today's Dawn press briefing

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2011

When a spacecraft has visited a new body for the first time, the usual answer to any scientific question is "it's too early to know; we need to study the data more." Scientists are usually very careful to avoid speculation while they're on press panels. But today's press briefing wasn't like that at all.

Fabulous Dawn Vesta images and rotation movie!!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 01, 2011

Now that Dawn's close enough to Vesta, we're seeing absolutely spectacular detail and tremendous diversity across Vesta's surface. As usual it'll probably take me a while to bring together all the new information, so as a stopgap I'm going to post an awesome image and a rotation movie.

Jupiter's southern belt is coming back

Emily Lakdawalla • August 01, 2011

In a story that I've been following for quite a while, Jupiter's southern equatorial belt, having faded to white in 2009, is now well on its way back to its former red glory.

Mountains rising for Opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • July 31, 2011

The views from Opportunity of Endeavour's near and distant rim peaks are getting ever more vertical as Opportunity approaches Cape York.

What's up in the solar system in August 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2011

August is supposed to be a lazy summer vacation month, but there's quite a lot going on in the solar system.

Phobos-Grunt and Yinghuo-1 have completed thermal vacuum testing

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2011

The Russian Phobos sample return mission, Phobos-Grunt, has passed a key milestone in its preparation for launch: it successfully completed its thermal vacuum testing in June.

A different face of Vesta (oh, *there's* the craters!)

Emily Lakdawalla • July 29, 2011

Here's the latest image release from Dawn at Vesta, taken from an altitude about twice as high as that of their first mapping orbit.

Origins 2011 conference, part 2

Frank Trixler • July 27, 2011

In this, my second blog on Origins 2011 in Montpellier, France, a conference dedicated to the interdisciplinary research on the origins of life, I aim to provide my impression of the second half of the conference.

Pretty movie: Everything in the Saturn system is in motion!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 26, 2011

A few weeks ago a producer for a public television space documentary asked me if I knew of any cool Cassini animations and my answer was, "Ooh, what a great excuse to have some fun digging around in the Cassini data archives." Here is the most fun animation I came up with in response to the request.

It's official now: Curiosity is going to Gale

Emily Lakdawalla • July 22, 2011

The news leaked a few weeks ago has turned out to be true: the next Mars rover, Curiosity, will be headed for Gale crater on Mars when it launches at the end of this year.

Vesta does a Hyperion impression

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

Maybe it's my own peculiar variant of pareidolia, but every time I see a new image of Vesta I'm reminded of some different other lumpy body in the solar system. In the image released just now by the Dawn team, taken from 10,500 kilometers away, I'm seeing Hyperion.

Opportunity's horizon rises -- and maybe brings Cape York into view

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

For miles and miles of Martian terrain, Opportunity's view forward has contained a distinctive line of hills—the far rim of Endeavour crater.

Spiffy human spaceflight T-shirt!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

From Chop Shop, the same guys who brought you my favorite space T-shirt ever, there is now a very cool shirt celebrating the spacecraft and missions of 50 years of human spaceflight, and as before they're donating five bucks to the Planetary Society for every T-shirt sold.

A fourth moon for Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • July 20, 2011

That's right: Hubble observations have yielded the discovery of a third small body orbiting Pluto and Charon.

Vesta in infrared color!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 19, 2011

Yet another sharp-eyed reader (I love my readers!) pointed out to me that the German-language release on the MPS website about the latest Vesta image from Dawn included what looked like a tiny thumbnail of a color view.

Yet another new image of Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2011

A sharp-eyed reader noticed that a size comparison montage posted by the Dawn mission today included an image of Vesta that had not yet been released separately to the public, and it is a very cool one.

Congratulations to the Dawn team on their orbit entry & pretty pictures!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2011

There's a new orbital mission on the map! As of Friday, the relatively small mass of the asteroid Vesta has finally taken hold of its new artificial satellite, Dawn.

Video: Top 5 Awesome Things About the Webb Telescope

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2011

With all the turmoil over the House's cancellation of the James Webb Space Telescope it seems an appropriate time to post this YouTube video.

Program and abstracts for DPS/EPSC 2011 now online

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2011

The program and abstracts for the next big space meeting have now been posted, and there's a lot of great stuff to look forward to.

The Skirmishing Has Begun

Charlene Anderson • July 12, 2011

Today, 12 July 2011, the Planetary Society submitted into testimony a written statement to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives for their hearing on NASA's Space Launch System.

A visit with Curiosity

Emily Lakdawalla • July 11, 2011

I had an amazing opportunity back in April: an invitation to go inside the fabled Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to see the next Mars rover up close.

Programming note: One more summer vacation

Emily Lakdawalla • July 04, 2011

I'm headed off today for my other summer vacation, and will again be going totally offline.

Ever closer to Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • July 04, 2011

Here's a photo of Vesta that was released by the Dawn team on Friday. I didn't post it right away because the version of the image in the official release has some bizarre processing artifacts that make it look as though the image had been made by cutting construction paper.

Latest report from Akatsuki failure review board

Emily Lakdawalla • July 02, 2011

JAXA held a press conference on June 30 about the latest report from the review board that is charged with finding out what exactly caused Akatsuki's failure to enter orbit at Venus, and what that implies for the possibility of Akatsuki to try again when it returns to Venus in 2015 or 2016.

From Earth Orbit to Washington, D.C.

Bill Nye • July 01, 2011

About a week ago, I attended the meeting of an organization I am excited about: the Alliance for Earth Observation. The conference was remarkable.

In Focus retrospective on the shuttle program

Emily Lakdawalla • July 01, 2011

Since jumping from the Boston Globe to the Atlantic with his signature galleries of striking images, Alan Taylor has continued to regularly feature space-themed photos. This week his In Focus feature looks back at the shuttle program with 61 images -- check it out!

What's up in the solar system in July 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • June 29, 2011

Time again for my monthly look at what's going on with the robots exploring the solar system! It'll be a month full of routine activities for our intrepid explorers performing ongoing science at Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, and Saturn.

Cassini animations: Rhea and Dione and Titan

Emily Lakdawalla • June 28, 2011

I've been mucking about in the Cassini data archives (as I often do when procrastinating) and unearthed a neat, if short, mutual event sequence of two crescent moons passing by each other.

Amateur takes on the Dawn Vesta images

Emily Lakdawalla • June 24, 2011

I am pretty sure that the Dawn team put nearly every image they've taken of Vesta so far in the animation they released yesterday, which is awesome. It hasn't taken long for the amateur image processing community to pick that animation apart into its component frames and process the heck out of the individual images to produce some very fine looking images and animations.

Vesta looks pretty battered

Emily Lakdawalla • June 23, 2011

There was a press briefing on Dawn today at NASA Headquarters, and there are new pictures! Here's what Vesta looked like as of three days ago, when Dawn was only 189,000 kilometers away.

According to Nature News, Curiosity is going to Gale

Emily Lakdawalla • June 23, 2011

Nature News is reporting that the Mars Science Laboratory mission has made its recommendation for the landing site for the next great Mars rover, and it's Gale crater.

How to Wrap a Mars Rover, redux

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2011

All right, I'll admit it: JPL's video is way, way cooler than mine. Four days of packing Curiosity up for shipping, condensed into under a minute.

The most exciting citizen science project ever (to me, anyway)

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2011

A guest blogger here recently rounded up the large number of participatory research projects that are collectively known as citizen science. I think these are all very cool and I encourage you to check them out but none of them has yet inspired me to spend my precious time as grunt labor on a gigantic collective project. Until now.

Cassini finally catches Helene

Emily Lakdawalla • June 20, 2011

Cassini has finally achieved gorgeous global imaging of Helene with a spectacular flyby on Saturday, in which they got Helene to pose prettily for the camera from beginning to end of the encounter. And what a wacky, wacky world Cassini has revealed Helene to be!!

Update: Phobos and Jupiter and its moons!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 20, 2011

Remember that neat picture and movie of Phobos passing by Jupiter that I posted last week? Several people asked me where Jupiter's moons were, and I just assumed that they weren't visible. I was wrong; Mars Express spotted Jupiter's moons along with the planet and Mars' moon!

Vesta, now better than Hubble!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2011

Closer and closer! Vesta is still fuzzy, but as Dawn inexorably draws closer it's beginning to come into focus. The view is now better than anything Hubble has ever returned to Earth.

Watching Phobos pass by Jupiter

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2011

Here is a really cool view of Phobos in the foreground with gigantic (but very distant) Jupiter sitting in the background, a fortuitous alignment that the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera team took advantage of on June 1.

How to Wrap a Mars Rover

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2011

It's not easy to wrap a ginormous rover for shipping. I was glued to the feed from the Curiosity Cam all day yesterday, as they prepared Curiosity for shipping to Kennedy Space Center. Here's a low-budget time-lapse of the rover being wrapped.

Early MESSENGER science results: Mercury is its own planet, not Moon or Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • June 16, 2011

There was a press briefing today giving some early science results from MESSENGER and it was surprisingly meaty. I'm going to focus on just one set of the results that they presented.

Chang'E 2 is on its way to Sun-Earth L2

Emily Lakdawalla • June 16, 2011

According to an article published a week ago by the Xinhua news service, Chang'E 2 departed the Moon on June 9 at 09:10 UTC. It's now headed toward a Lagrangian point in space, but not the one I thought it was headed for.

Historic Final Flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour

Ken Kremer • June 15, 2011

After a 16 day journey of more than sixteen million miles, Space Shuttle Endeavour and her six man crew glided to a safe nighttime landing at 2:35 a.m. EDT on June 1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I watched from close by the shuttle landing strip as the ghostly ship flew past, preceded by shocking twin sonic booms.

URGENT: Call Appropriations Committee members to support Pu-238 production

Emily Lakdawalla • June 14, 2011

I just got the following email from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), requesting anyone whose Congressperson sits on the Appropriations Committee to place a phone call to support the production of Plutonium-238, the isotope of plutonium that powers spacecraft that cannot run on solar power.

Rosetta has entered its long sleep

Emily Lakdawalla • June 14, 2011

One big space event that I missed while I was on vacation was Rosetta's entry into hibernation. Rosetta is the biggest interplanetary spacecraft that has been launched by ESA, and it has the groundbreaking goal of entering orbit around a comet and dropping a lander onto it.

A Vesta rotation movie from Dawn!!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2011

What do you know! I spend my last pre-vacation post whining about the lack of image releases from Dawn as it approaches Vesta and what do I find in my Inbox on the morning of my return to work but: an image release from Dawn!

Enjoy next week's guest bloggers; I'm going on vacation

Emily Lakdawalla • June 04, 2011

I am going "off the grid" for a week to attend the wedding of my only sibling to a talented and gorgeous young woman who I'm looking forward to having as a sister. It'll be a fun-filled weeklong family reunion and I just don't trust myself to participate in it to the fullest unless I leave my computer at home and vow not to even read my email.

A plea for more pictures from Dawn

Emily Lakdawalla • June 03, 2011

If you had asked me last year what I was most looking forward to in space in 2011, my answer would have been unhesitating: Dawn's approach to Vesta. Never in my adult life have I been able to follow a space mission as it discovered a large new world for the first time.

Color versions of the recent Titan & moon beauty shots

Emily Lakdawalla • June 02, 2011

Last week I got very excited about a set of pictures that had appeared on Cassini's raw images website, but was sad that I couldn't make color versions myself. I was so excited that I failed to identify the little icy moon in the picture correctly.

Two new views of Curiosity

Emily Lakdawalla • June 01, 2011

This week two cool new views of the next Mars rover appeared in the Jet Propulsion Lab's image database, the Planetary Photojournal. One was real, and one simulated; I've been waiting to see both for many months.

What's up in the solar system in June 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • May 31, 2011

Time again for my monthly look at what's going on with the robots exploring the solar system! It'll be a busy month for Cassini, with lots of cool icy moon observations.

A picture of Spirit that's too poetical for words

Emily Lakdawalla • May 25, 2011

Yesterday, I remarked that despite the declaration of her death we'll be seeing Spirit frequently over the next few years, as long as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still monitoring her landing site with its HiRISE camera. I said that Spirit is a lump that's relatively easy to spot because of her dark shadow. Well, Spirit's managed to make herself even easier to spot than that.

Sad news for Spirit: It's All Over But the Crying

Emily Lakdawalla • May 24, 2011

Alicia Chang reported today that, according to project manager John Callas, the last attempt to uplink a command to the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will be made tomorrow. NASA will cease listening for signals from Spirit on Tuesday.

Tantalizing photos of Titan, Dione, Tethys, and Saturn

Emily Lakdawalla • May 23, 2011

It figures. I just start a three-week trip, with my only computer a diminutive Netbook, and guess what's just been radioed across the 1.3 billion kilometers separating us and Saturn? A set of photos that should become -- when properly processed -- an iconic image from Cassini's fourteen-year mission to the Saturn system.

Titan's lack of lightning

Emily Lakdawalla • May 19, 2011

It's a fact of life in science that not all of your hypotheses will turn out to be correct (or even verifiable at all). But there's a bias toward the publication of positive results -- the discovery of this, or the proof of that.

This year's Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award recipient is...me!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 19, 2011

I was driving home from the Mars Science Laboratory site selection workshop yesterday when I got a thrilling call informing me that I've been awarded the 2011 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award.

It's opposite day at the Curiosity landing site selection meeting

Emily Lakdawalla • May 18, 2011

I've been attending the final Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Community Workshop meeting this week, taking copious notes for a future article in The Planetary Report, some of which I'll post here when I get a chance. But I just had to write a brief post about the totally crazy role reversal that is going on at this meeting.

Chang'E 2 to depart for L2 on June 16

Emily Lakdawalla • May 18, 2011

According to a story posted on xinmin.xn and run through Google Translate, there's now been an official announcement from China about Chang'e 2's extended mission: it will depart lunar orbit in mid-June and journey to L2.

Bj�rn J�nsson's Voyager 1 Jupiter animation, new and improved

Emily Lakdawalla • May 16, 2011

Late last year I posted an amazing video of Jupiter's moving clouds, an animation made from images that Voyager 1 took as it approached. Below is a new and improved version of that animation. The first one was based on 16 Voyager color photos; this one covers a much longer period of time, and includes 58 images.

Galileo's still producing discoveries: A magma ocean within Io!

Jason Perry • May 13, 2011

A fresh report was published online yesterday in Science Express on the discovery of a magma ocean beneath the surface of Io. Big news! This is a paper I've been looking forward to seeing for more than year and half.

Citizen Science projects for Planetary Science: Get Involved! Do Science!

Mike Malaska • May 12, 2011

Citizen Science projects let volunteers easily contribute to active science programs. They're useful when there is so much data it overwhelms computing algorithms (if they exist) or the scientific research team attempting to process it.

Land ho!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 11, 2011

It's hard to convey just how excited I am to see Dawn's first image of asteroid Vesta.

Why haven't we found evidence for life starting in asteroids?

Emily Lakdawalla • May 10, 2011

Here's a theoretical paper that asks an interesting question: When the solar system was very young and still very hot, could medium-sized asteroids have been habitable abodes for life?

A rare direct hit from a meteorite

Emily Lakdawalla • May 09, 2011

Meteorites hit Earth all the time, but they almost never score direct hits on human-built structures (or humans, for that matter). Once in a while, though, direct hits do happen, and it looks like this recent event in Poland was the real thing.

Book reviews: T Minus and Laika

Emily Lakdawalla • May 05, 2011

I recently read two graphic novels exploring the early history of spaceflight, and I'd like to recommend both for summer reading. Although the two overlap in time, they couldn't be much more different.

Familiar yet alien ancient views of Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • May 04, 2011

I have always found maps of the motions of Earth's continents fascinating, so it is really cool to see some gorgeous new reconstructions of what Earth would have looked like to spaceborne observers over the last 750 million years.

Dawn's Vesta phase timeline, a summary

Emily Lakdawalla • May 03, 2011

Now that Dawn has finally begun its science mission at Vesta, I thought it'd be useful to go back through Marc Rayman's Dawn Journals to collect a summary of the plans for Vesta.

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