AidSpace Blog

Category Archives: Planetary Science

Remembering Claudia Alexander—Space Scientist

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Claudia Alexander—Space Scientist (1959-2015) 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. Charles Elachi, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she worked said she, “had a   …Continue Reading


Finding Pluto With the Blink Comparator

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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   …Continue Reading


The Last Hours of MESSENGER

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Today, the MESSENGER spacecraft will succumb to the influence of gravity and impact on the surface of Mercury. Its last orbit correction maneuver was successfully executed on Tuesday, April 28– there’s nothing left in the fuel tank. I’ve been involved in the mission for more than a decade as a member of the science team and   …Continue Reading


To Jupiter and Beyond: Pioneer 10 and 11

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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   …Continue Reading


Keeping Watch on Venus

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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   …Continue Reading