An undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific island of Tonga, and several satellites caught the incredible explosion in action. The blast of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano created a plume of ash, steam and gas mushrooming above the Pacific Ocean, with a quickly expanding shockwave visible from orbit. Japan’s Himawari-8 weather satellite recorded this dramatic video:Continue reading “Tonga’s Incredible Underwater Volcano Eruption Seen From Space”
The highly anticipated Europa Clipper mission, set to launch in 2024, will investigate Jupiter’s moon Europa. This icy moon with a subsurface ocean is considered one of the most enticing places in our Solar System where life might exist. To look beneath Europa’s icy crust, the Clipper mission has a host of instruments looking for plumes and ‘hot spots.’
A thermal emissions imager, called E-THEMIS (Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System) recently passed a major testing hurdle recently by capturing its “first light” images with its infrared camera.Continue reading “Europa Clipper’s Thermal Imaging System was Tested Here on Earth”
China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander has found evidence of hydroxyl (OH) on the Moon. Hydroxyl is a close chemical cousin of water, H2O. While several other orbital missions have detected OH on the Moon previously, Chang’e-5 marks the first time it has been detected by a spacecraft sitting on the lunar surface.Continue reading “China’s Lander Has Detected Water on the Moon”
If you thought landing a used rocket booster on a barge or a landing pad was crazy idea, take a look at how SpaceX plans to land the big Starship rocket.
The same tower that will be used to launch the rocket will also attempt “catching” the spent booster when it comes back to Earth.Continue reading “SpaceX Tests its Starship-Catching Launch Tower”
The James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror is now fully unfolded, which successfully completes the mission’s major deployments. The starboard side of the primary mirror was released into place today, completing a two-week long, complex deployment sequence. The mirror of the most powerful space telescope ever built is now open, preparing to “unfold the Universe.”Continue reading “Webb’s Mirror Now Fully Unfolded. Prepare to Witness the Power of This Unprecedented Space Telescope”
Back in early December 2021, China’s Yutu 2 rover made headlines when it spied what looked like a curious cube-shaped object on the Moon’s surface. Of course, speculations ran rampant. And it didn’t help matters any when the China National Space Administration (CNSA) nicknamed the object the “mystery hut.”
An update today from Yutu’s cameras reveals the true nature of this object. Yup, it’s just a rock. And not very cube-shaped, either.Continue reading “China’s Rover Checks out that Weird Cube on the Moon. Surprise! It’s a Rock.”
As the James Webb Space Telescope unfolds and makes its way to its final destination in space, NASA and ESA have done a great job of sharing the experience with the public. With webcasts, livestreams and a very active social media presence, the JWST team has allowed people to watch over the shoulders of engineers and scientists, as well as ask questions about the process of commissioning the new telescope.
The most often asked question on social media and at several press conferences seems to be, why weren’t cameras put on JWST to provide actual live footage from the telescope? Wouldn’t seeing it firsthand be better than just receiving telemetry?Continue reading “Here’s Why Webb Doesn’t Have Cameras on Board to Livestream its Deployment”
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a telescope.
The secondary mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope was successfully deployed in space today, an incredibly important milestone.
“We are 600,000 miles from Earth and we have a telescope,” said Bill Ochs, JWST program manager, speaking triumphantly to his team after the secondary mirror was deployed and then latched in place.Continue reading “JWST Deploys its Secondary Mirror. It’s a Real Telescope Now”
Remember how China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft released a remote camera to take a picture of itself during its flight to Mars, back in late 2020? Now in Mars orbit, Tianwen-1 has done it again, releasing another mini remote camera. Except this time, the planet Mars is part of the view.
The images are stunning.Continue reading “China’s Tianwen-1 Spacecraft Took a Selfie Using a Tiny, Secondary Spacecraft”
If you felt a little more tension – and perhaps more goosebumps — in the Universe today, it’s probably because the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield is now completely and successfully deployed! All five layers of the sunshield have been fully extended and “tensioned” into the final taut, kite-shaped configuration. This is a huge accomplishment (and huge relief) for the entire international Webb mission
“This has been many years in the making, and is a really big moment for the entire team,” said the JWST mission operations manager after the final events to tension and latch the sunshield were confirmed. “There’s nothing cooler in space than JWST!”Continue reading “Success! Webb Sunshield Now Fully Deployed”