Mars Orbiter Captures Images of China’s Rover From Space

China’s Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover touched down on the Martian plain Utopia Planitia on May 14, 2021 after spending about three months orbiting the Red Planet. While the Chinese Space Agency has shared images of the rover and lander (including a cute family portrait taken by a wireless remote camera), NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been following the rover’s travels from above.

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Chris Hadfield Drives in the Desert With a new Lunar Rover Prototype

As the Apollo astronauts found out, mobility is everything. Apollo’s Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) – sometimes called the Lunar Rover or Moon Buggy – completely changed how the astronauts could explore the lunar surface.

Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 said, “Without it, the major scientific discoveries of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 would not have been possible, and our current understanding of lunar evolution would not have been possible.”

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Now That is a Big Rocket. Space Launch System Rolls out to the Launch pad for a Series of Tests

Under the full Moon, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket rolled out to the launchpad for the first time. The journey began at the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, with the gigantic stack of the mega rocket arriving at Launch Pad 39B in preparation for a series of final checkouts before its Artemis I test flight.

The four-mile trip for SLS and the Orion spacecraft, on top of the crawler-transporter took 10 hours and 28 minutes, and the 3.5-million-pound rocket and spacecraft arrived at the pad at 4:15 a.m. on March 18.

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ESA’s Gaia Just Took a Picture of L2 Neighbor JWST

Oh, hello there new neighbor!  In February, the Gaia spacecraft took a picture of its new closest companion in space at the second Lagrangian point, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Gaia is an optical telescope that is mapping out our galaxy by surveying the motions of more than a thousand million stars. Astronomers for the mission realized that once JWST reached L2, it would be in Gaia’s field of view.  It spied JWST when the two spacecraft were a million km apart.

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Webb has Now Taken the Sharpest Image the Laws of Physics Allow

Engineers and scientists for the James Webb Space Telescope have completed two more steps in the telescope’s primary mirror alignment process, and in a briefing today, officials said JWST’s optical performance appears to be better than even the most optimistic predictions.  

The team released a new engineering image, showing the star 2MASS J17554042+6551277 in crisp clarity. This image demonstrates that all 18 mirror segments have been precisely aligned to act as one giant, high-precision 6.5-meter (21.3-foot) primary telescope mirror.

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A Tiny Asteroid was Discovered Mere Hours Before it Crashed Into the Earth

Last week, a small asteroid was detected just two hours before it impacted Earth’s atmosphere. Luckily, it was only about 3 meters (10 feet) wide, and the space rock, now known as 2022 EB5 likely burned up in Earth’s atmosphere near Iceland at 21:22 UTC on March 11.

While it is wonderful that astronomers can detect asteroids of that size heading towards our planet — as well as determine the asteroid’s trajectory and precisely predicted its impact location — the last-minute nature of the discovery definitely causes a pause. What if it had been bigger?

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Strange Terraces on Mars are a Clear Signal of Sedimentary Rock

If we’ve learned anything about Mars the past 2-3 decades from the various rovers, landers and orbiters we’ve sent to the Red Planet, it’s that the planet’s geologic history is much more complicated and diverse than what we thought.

This picture from the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows fractured sedimentary rock inside a crater called Danielson. Sedimentary rock is a sure sign that this planet was active in the past. The fracturing, layering and terrace-like structures suggests a long-term watery history in this region.

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NASA is Letting People Fly Their Name Around the Moon With Artemis 1

Here’s your chance to participate in NASA’s return to the Moon with the Artemis program!

NASA is inviting people to submit their names to be included on a flash drive that will be sent along with Artemis I, an uncrewed test flight that kicks off the space agency’s plans to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

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The Europa Clipper is Coming Together, Launching in 2024

Who is excited to send a spacecraft to Europa? Every person I’ve talked to who is even remotely interested in planetary exploration is incredibly enthusiastic about the upcoming Europa Clipper mission to explore Jupiter’s icy moon. With strong evidence of a subsurface liquid ocean, Europa is considered by many to be the most likely place in our Solar System – besides Earth — which might harbor life. The many mysteries about this moon make it a compelling place to explore.

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