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Snapshots from Space

by Emily Lakdawalla

Follow the thrilling adventures of planetary missions, past and present, and see the stunningly beautiful photos that they return from space!

The round worlds in the solar system: An updated graphic

Emily Lakdawalla • November 02, 2015 • 9

I have a newly updated scale comparison graphic to share: all the round worlds in the solar system smaller than 10,000 kilometers in diameter, now with added Pluto, Charon, and Ceres.

Dawn data from Ceres publicly released: Finally, color global portraits!

Emily Lakdawalla • October 22, 2015 • 5

A few days ago, Dawn officially released the first big pile of data from the Ceres mission phase. Thanks to the public release, I can show you color global portraits of Ceres.

Filling in the Enceladus map: Cassini's 20th flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • October 16, 2015 • 7

A couple of days ago, Cassini flew past Enceladus for its 20th targeted encounter. Cassini has seen and photographed quite a lot of Enceladus before, but there's still new terrain for it to cover.

Favorite Astro Plots #2: Condensation of the solar system

Emily Lakdawalla • October 14, 2015 • 2

Behold: the story of how our solar system began, in one chart. This is the second installment in a series of planetary scientists' favorite plots. Today's #FaveAstroPlot was suggested by spectroscopist Michael Bramble.

Charon in 3D

Emily Lakdawalla • October 13, 2015 • 3

Last week, the pile of New Horizons LORRI camera raw image releases included nine frames from a high-resolution mosaic on Charon. Together with the color MVIC view, they make a 3D global photo of Pluto's moon. Other recently released goodies include a global backlit color image of Pluto and the first image that resolves the tiny moon Styx.

How do you pronounce "Ryugu?"

Emily Lakdawalla • October 07, 2015 • 2

With some help from astronomer Elizabeth Tasker and a group of astronomy graduate students from the University of Hokkaido, I learn how.

Mars Orbiter Mission update: A year at Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • October 06, 2015 • 2

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of rumor that ISRO was ready to announce some results from its Mars Orbiter Mission's methane sensor. The Indian space agency held a press event for the one-year-in-orbit anniversary of Mars Orbiter Mission and released a book containing mission photos, but did not unveil any new scientific results.

Hayabusa2's target asteroid has a name!

Emily Lakdawalla • October 05, 2015 • 2

JAXA announced today the results of the naming contest for Hayabusa2. The target of the sample-return mission, formerly known as 1999 JU3 and still numbered 162173, is now named 162173 Ryugu.

Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans

Emily Lakdawalla • October 05, 2015 • 88

Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words "manned" and "unmanned," but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration, even though the Associated Press has not. A recent discussion on Twitter among science writers and scientists highlighted some alternatives.

New Horizons releases new color pictures of Charon, high-resolution lookback photo of Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • October 02, 2015 • 15

Now that New Horizons is regularly sending back data, the mission is settling into a routine of releasing a set of captioned images on Thursdays, followed by raw LORRI images on Friday. The Thursday releases give us the opportunity to see lovely color data from the spacecraft's Ralph MVIC instrument. This week, the newly available color data set covered Charon.

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Emily Lakdwalla
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