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Planetary

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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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 Claudia Alexander
Fri, July 10 2015

First Mission to Pluto: The Difficult Birth of New Horizons

As we await the exciting results of New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto on July 14, it is all too easy to think that this mission was inevitable: the capstone to NASA’s spectacular exploration of all the planets (and ex-planets) of the solar system since the 1960s. Yet, it proved extraordinarily difficult to sustain a Pluto project.

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New Horizons Full-Scale Model
Thu, May 14 2015

Finding Pluto With the Blink Comparator

It all started at a special public lecture at the Museum in July 2014 given by Alan Stern, the lead scientist for the New Horizons mission, which will fly past Pluto this July. Among the attendees was William Lowell Putnam IV, sole trustee of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona—the place where Pluto was found in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. It was an exciting evening, not only to learn about the impending flyby but also having a chance to speak with Putnam and the director of the Lowell Observatory, Jeff Hall.

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Blink Comparator
Thu, April 30 2015

The Last Hours of MESSENGER

Today, the MESSENGER spacecraft will succumb to the influence of gravity and impact on the surface of Mercury

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Mercury’s Enterprise Rupes
Fri, January 16 2015

To Jupiter and Beyond: Pioneer 10 and 11

A full-size engineering model of the Pioneer 10 /11 spacecraft normally hangs in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the National Air and Space Museum. However, a few weeks ago it was removed and placed in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, while the Milestones gallery undergoes a major renovation in the coming months.

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Pioneer 10 replica
Mon, December 8 2014

Keeping Watch on Venus

Venus has almost the same diameter as the Earth and is the next closest planet to the Sun. The similarity ends with the weather report, however. The surface temperature is more than 465 o C (870o F) and atmospheric pressure is 90 times that of Earth. The surface is hidden from view by a dense blanket of clouds, so we must use radar systems to “see” the landscape below.

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Alpha Regio on Venus
Fri, October 17 2014

New Satellite Image of Out of Many, One

Out Of Many, One by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is a large-scale portrait, made of sand and soil, temporarily displayed on the National Mall for the month of October.

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Satellite Image of "Out Of Many, One"
Thu, August 7 2014

Remembering Henry Warren “Hank” Hartsfield, Jr. Discovery’s First Commander (1933-2014)

Henry “Hank” Hartsfield served as commander of the first mission of Space Shuttle Discovery, now on display at the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

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Remembering Henry Warren “Hank” Hartsfield, Jr. Discovery’s First Commander (1933-2014)

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Henry W. “Hank” Hartsfield, Jr.
Tue, January 7 2014

10 Years on Mars

For the last ten years the missions of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have brought breathtaking images of Mars back to Earth.

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Setting Sun
Wed, September 18 2013

Bruce C. Murray

Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from 1976 to 1982, Bruce Murray was a geologist whose vision was never earthbound. He earned his PhD from MIT and served two years in the U.S. Air Force before joining the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1960. Caltech manages JPL for NASA, and soon Murray was working on JPL’s Mariner missions to Mars. During his tenure as director of JPL, the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars and the Voyagers began exploring the outer solar system. He also oversaw Earth orbital missions, including Seasat, the Solar Mesosphere Explorer, and Shuttle Imaging Radar-A.

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Bruce C. Murray

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