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Planetary

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Tue, November 26 2019

Conducting Planetary Research Here on Earth

Planetary scientist Emily Martin takes you behind the scenes of a recent field work trip to Iceland. 

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Fri, November 8 2019

Transit of Mercury

On Monday, November 11, 2019, one of my favorite celestial events occurs – a transit! Think of a transit as an “eclipse lite” – a planet will pass between Earth and the Sun, and we’ll be able to observe the planet’s shadow moving across the Sun. Here are six questions to ponder during this month’s transit of Mercury.

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Fri, March 22 2019

"A Fog-Filled Canal on Mars"

In this guest blog post, Chesley Bonestell expert Melvin Schuetz reflects on the Bonestell artwork "A Fog-Filled Canal on Mars."

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Wed, March 20 2019

Decades of Inspiration from Chesley Bonestell

This guest blog post by space artist Ron Miller explores the impact illustrator Chesley Bonestell had on his life, and recounts 50 years of telling Bonestell's story.

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Wed, July 25 2018

AirSpace Ep.10:
Happy (Planet) Hunting

NASA launched TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, on April 18, 2018, continuing our search for planets outside of our solar system (aka exoplanets). 

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AirSpace Ep.10:
Happy (Planet) Hunting

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Thu, September 14 2017

Saying Goodbye to the Saturn-Exploring Cassini

I think it surprises a lot of people that a mission as successful as the Cassini-Huygens Mission would be terminated on purpose. Not just shutting the spacecraft off, but terminated with such style by sending it on a destructive dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini will burn up and be destroyed in a similar way that a meteorite is broken up in Earth’s atmosphere.

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Thu, May 4 2017

Using a World-Class Telescope to Spy on Venus

In late March, I traveled to Puerto Rico to conduct observations of Venus using the Arecibo Observatory telescope. It was the second time I traveled to the observatory to make radar measurements of the surface of Venus. Even though it was my second time there, the size and capability of the telescope still impressed me; the telescope is largest single-aperture telescope ever constructed.

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Wed, November 16 2016

Revealing Mercury’s Great Valley

At their core, planetary missions are about exploration, pure and simple. It’s hard to beat the excitement of discovering a new feature on the surface of a planet that’s being imaged by spacecraft for the first time. I had this experience many times during the MESSENGER mission.

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Wed, September 28 2016

The Incredible, Still Shrinking Mercury

Being a member of a science team of a planetary mission is like being a starter on a major league baseball team—you’re in the game. That’s how I felt as a member of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. During the final months of MESSENGER’s time in orbit, before the fuel on the spacecraft was expended and crashed on Mercury’s surface, a decision had to be made—keep the spacecraft in its nominal mapping orbit as long as possible or let the spacecraft altitude drift lower to get as close to the planet as possible.

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Mon, July 25 2016

Exploring Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes: A Towering Red Planet Analog

As the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Mars Day! celebration approaches, we look to a recent research trip taken by a Smithsonian Summer Intern to investigate the similarities between some of Earth’s most amazing dunes and those found on the ruddy surface of Mars.

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