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Emily Lakdawalla's blogs from 2011

Kepler announcement today: More than a thousand exoplanets including one 6-planet system

Emily Lakdawalla • February 02, 2011

I wasn't able to watch the Kepler press briefing today so I will give you links to some of my favorite blogs for information on today's announcement, which follows a major data release last night as well as the publication of a paper in Nature.

Stardust update: trajectory correction successful

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2011

Now that Stardust has images of its target comet to work with, the mission was able to figure out their relative positions more precisely, and they've gone ahead with an important rocket firing that shifts the spacecraft's aimpoint past the comet closer to the number that they want.

Stardust Contest: "Are We There Yet?"

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2011

There's a new Planetary Society contest: "Are We There Yet? -- Measuring Stardust's Cosmic Journey." How far do you think Stardust will have traveled to get to Tempel 1? Guess here and get a chance to win a cool T-shirt!

Io and Jupiter from Voyager 1

Emily Lakdawalla • January 31, 2011

Here's an image I've been meaning to post for months, a new mosaic from Voyager 1 by Ted Stryk of Io crossing Jupiter's terminator as it neared closest approach.

Uranus and Challenger

Emily Lakdawalla • January 28, 2011

In the past week there have been 25th anniversaries of two events in 1986, one great, one terrible: the closest approach of Voyager 2 to Uranus on January 24, and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger upon liftoff on January 28.

Butterfly crater on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • January 27, 2011

I've spent the day noodling around in the current issue of Icarus, following up some of the more interesting stories within its table of contents, and came across a picture of this very cool crater -- actually, set of craters -- on Mars.

Stardust update: Tempel 1 Ahoy!

Emily Lakdawalla • January 26, 2011

It is with great relief that I now report that JPL announced this evening the sighting of Tempel 1 by Stardust, a mere month before the planned flyby.

IKAROS: self-portrait with Venus; primary mission complete

Emily Lakdawalla • January 26, 2011

JAXA posted a report today stating that IKAROS "has completed its regular operations."

Animation of Phobos rotating from recent Mars Express flyby images

Emily Lakdawalla • January 25, 2011

Daniel Macháček has colorized some terrific images of Phobos and run them through some morphing software to make a seamless animation that appears to show Phobos rotating before you.

Report from the 2011 New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Ted Stryk • January 24, 2011

The annual New Horizons Science Team Meeting was held last week at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Stardust update: Tempel 1 not yet spotted by spacecraft, hopefully next week

Emily Lakdawalla • January 22, 2011

A new update has been posted to the Stardust website: The spacecraft continues to operate as expected and all subsystems are healthy on approach to comet Tempel 1.

Mars Express' January 2011 Phobos images show how camera works

Emily Lakdawalla • January 21, 2011

The Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) team has just released several images from the most recent series of Phobos flybys to the Mars Express blog.

Two fine color Cassini animations: Prometheus rotating, Tethys and Dione dancing

Emily Lakdawalla • January 20, 2011

Daniel Macháček has reached into the dark side of Prometheus and pulled out an incredible amount of detail where the potato-shaped moon is illuminated by Saturnshine. He produced an animation that morphs among the three sets of four-filter color images that Cassini snapped during the flyby.

Stardust prepares for first second look at a comet: Tempel 1 on February 14

Emily Lakdawalla • January 19, 2011

A press briefing was held at NASA Headquarters this morning to preview the planned February 14 encounter by Stardust with Tempel 1. There aren't often lots of questions from media after these "preview" briefings, but today there were zero. That's not good.

Rosetta burns for its comet

Emily Lakdawalla • January 18, 2011

Rosetta -- Europe's comet-chasing spacecraft -- is in the middle of a three-day series of rocket firings that are setting the geometry for its rendezvous with comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Radar topographic view of a volcano

Emily Lakdawalla • January 17, 2011

Quick -- where is this? Is it one of Venus' iconic volcanoes? Or maybe Mars'?

Another scientific clarification: Vanth probably not half the mass of Orcus

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2011

Earlier this week I got all excited about the Orcus-Vanth system. It turns out there was a math error in the version of the paper that I read, which resulted in the notion that Vanth could be nearly as big as Orcus.

Scientific clarification: "inverted topography" is more general than "esker-like features"

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2011

In the past couple of months I've received several emails from scientists offering clarifications, corrections, or alternative points of view to previous posts, which is awesome and something that I enthusiastically encourage. Here's one of them.

2010 JL33: How to see an asteroid from quite a long way away

Emily Lakdawalla • January 13, 2011

A terrific set of Goldstone radar images of a good-sized near-Earth asteroids named 2010 JL33 was posted to the JPL website yesterday. They also posted a movie version but something about these pixelated radar image series absolutely begs for them to be displayed as an old-school animated GIF, so I made one.

Goodies from the January 11 Rhea flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • January 12, 2011

Cassini got some incredibly tricky shots during its January 11 Rhea flyby!

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • January 12, 2011

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011, about what to look forward to in solar system exploration this year.

"A genuinely weird experience": A video of Steve Squyres explaining a photo of Steve Squyres

Emily Lakdawalla • January 12, 2011

In a lovely talk, in his uncommonly engaging way, Steve Squyres presents the portrait of him that now hangs in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Orcus and Vanth

Emily Lakdawalla • January 11, 2011

As part of a big, ongoing project to make a comparison chart of the dimensions and physical properties of solar system objects I've spent the morning tackling the difficult problem of summarizing the physical characteristics of the biggest things that are out there beyond Neptune.

Grab bag: "Rocky" exoplanet, molten lunar core, Rhea close encounter

Emily Lakdawalla • January 10, 2011

The Kepler exoplanet hunting mission has made news today with a report of "its first rocky planet."

Stardust mission update: 38 days to Tempel 1

Emily Lakdawalla • January 07, 2011

Stardust is healthy after performing a "cold boot" to clear a memory address problem (a "memory address latch-up") that occurred late last year and caused the spacecraft to go into safe mode three times.

Solar eclipses from space: Hinode and SDO

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2011

Two spacecraft that keep their ever-watchful eyes on the Sun -- NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and JAXA's Hinode -- were doing their thing, when something large wandered past: the Moon.

Two possible futures for Akatsuki

Emily Lakdawalla • January 05, 2011

There are two intriguing possibilities being discussed in the Japanese media for what to do with Akatsuki, a space probe in orbit near Venus with a fully functional, highly capable suite of cameras but a damaged main engine.

Sunset and eclipse on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • January 05, 2011

These two movies were posted to the JPL website a couple of weeks ago, and they are just amazing.

Juno in an alternate universe

Emily Lakdawalla • January 04, 2011

I was browsing JPL's Planetary Photojournal today and noticed that they've posted an updated artist's concept of the Juno spacecraft, which is set to launch in August for a 2016 arrival at Jupiter.

Two views of Santa Maria, from orbit and from the ground

Emily Lakdawalla • January 04, 2011

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has just snapped another photo of Opportunity sitting on the ground on Mars. These pictures never get old.

How Mars Express' orbit shifts with time

Emily Lakdawalla • January 04, 2011

While I was writing yesterday's blog entry on Mars Express' Phobos flybys I realized that I didn't understand Mars Express' orbit very well. So I sent an inquiry to the Mars Express blog, which they answered in a blog entry today.

It's Phobos season again for Mars Express

Emily Lakdawalla • January 03, 2011

The Mars Express blog has been reactivated today, as a new series of Phobos flybys is already underway.

Happy 2011, and an end to the 2010 advent calendar

Emily Lakdawalla • January 01, 2011

Welcome 2011! I can't wait for what this year has in store. The prize for all of you who have enjoyed opening each door in the Planetary Society's 2010 advent calendar is one of the best views we can get of one of the biggest objects in the asteroid belt, Vesta.

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