Topic

Planetary

Showing 11 - 20 of 52
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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Wed, July 13 2016

Hand-building Radar Systems

Radar instruments play an important role in our study of Earth’s nearest neighbors, such as the Moon, Venus, and Mars. Radar can provide a range of information regarding the materials that make up the surface of a planet and offer a unique perspective on the underlying structure. To get the most out of our research it is important to have a fundamental understanding of the hardware that makes up a radar instrument. What better way to achieve this than build our own.

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Mon, March 7 2016

Observing the Surface of Venus with the Arecibo Telescope

This past summer I had the opportunity to operate the world’s largest single-dish telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

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Wed, September 30 2015

Mars: One Mystery Revealed, Many More to Solve

The recent announcement by NASA that there is evidence of salty, liquid water seeping out of the ground on Mars is both exciting and scientifically puzzling at the same time. As a member of the science team for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), I’ve been hearing about these possible seeps, or Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL), for several years now.

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Fri, September 18 2015

Earth is Shaping the Shrinking Moon

Planetary science is one of those fields of research where you can always count on being surprised. The remarkable terrain of Pluto and Charon in images being sent back by the New Horizons spacecraft certainly qualifies. One of my all-time big surprises is from a recent discovery on an object much closer to home—the Moon.

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Wed, September 2 2015

Pioneer Carries Message Across the Stars

The National Air and Space Museum's full-scale mockup of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft was recently moved to its new location in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall as a part of a major renovation to the gallery.

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Sat, August 22 2015

Inside Look: Celebrating New Horizons With the Mission Team

On July 13 and 14, I was invited to visit the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, for the New Horizons Pluto Flyby Events.

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Fri, August 21 2015

New Horizons: The Gift That Keeps Giving

On July 14, the New Horizons spacecraft completed a 9.5-year-long, 4.8-billion kilometer (3-billion mile) journey to the object furthest from the Sun to be visited by a spacecraft.

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Fri, August 14 2015

Remembering Claudia Alexander—Space Scientist

Claudia Alexander was perhaps not well-known to the general public, but within the space and science community she was a valued colleague and friend whose contribution to the field of space exploration was significant and lasting.

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