Artists concept of the Chinese Chang’e 3 lander and rover on the lunar surface. Credit: Beijing Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering
China’s maiden moon landing probe successfully entered lunar orbit on Friday, Dec. 6, following Sunday’s (Dec. 1) spectacular blastoff – setting the stage for the historic touchdown attempt in mid December.
Engineer’s at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) commanded the Chang’e 3 lunar probe to fire its braking thrusters for 361 seconds, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.
Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) imaged by the Subaru Telescope on Dec. 3. Image credit: NAOJ with data processing by Masafumi Yagi (NAOJ)
Comet ISON may be no more than just a cloud of icy debris these days but there’s another comet that’s showing off in the morning sky: C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), which was discovered in September and is steadily nearing its Christmas Day perihelion. In the early hours of Dec. 3, astronomers using the 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii captured this amazing image of Lovejoy, revealing the intricate flows of ion streamers in its tail. (Click the image above for extra awesomeness.)
This mosaic shows a rock, nicknamed “Ithaca” examined by the NASA Curiosity rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) laser. The 100,000th laser shot of Curiosity’s mission is marked in the image. The shot took place on Oct. 30, 2013 and was announced in early December. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/UNM
The reports are in: it appears that Earth has the upper hand in firing laser shots on Mars. More seriously, however, the Curiosity rover has surpassed the uber-cool milestone of shooting 100,000 holes in the Red Planet’s surface to learn more about its chemical composition.