The Mars Expressorbiter, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first interplanetary mission, entered orbit around Mars on June 2nd, 2003. Since then, the probe has mapped the Martian surface using its High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), an instrument built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with commercial partners. In honor of the mission’s 20th anniversary, a celebration occurred last Friday (June 2nd) at the ESA’s European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.
During the festivities, a series of global color mosaic images were live-streamed from the Mars Express orbiter to Earth. The mosaic is the result of a high-altitude campaign conducted by the HRSC science team and state-of-the-art image processing. The result is a mosaic unparalleled in detail, spatial resolution, and diversity of color that provides valuable insight into the Martian environment. This includes revealing the surface composition, demonstrating how water once flowed there in the past, and modern meteorological phenomena.
The Universe is full of massive galaxies like ours, but astronomers don’t fully understand how they grew and evolved. They know that the first galaxies formed at least as early as 670 million years after the Big Bang. They know that mergers play a role in the growth of galaxies. Astronomers also know that supermassive black holes are involved in the growth of galaxies, but they don’t know precisely how.
A new Hubble survey of galaxies should help astronomers figure some of this out.
NASA’s TESS planet-finding spacecraft completed its primary mission about 3 months ago. TESS’s (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) job was to search the brightest stars nearest to Earth for transiting exoplanets. It found 74 confirmed exoplanets, with another ~1200 candidates awaiting confirmation.
It surveyed 75% of the sky during its two-year primary mission, and now NASA has released a composite image of the northern sky, made up of more than 200 individual images.
On April 18th, 2018, NASA’s Transitting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) took to space for the first time. By August, it began capturing the light curves of distant stars for signs of planetary transits, effectively picking up where the Kepler Space Telescope left off. Now, just a few months away from the end of its primary mission, NASA has put a year’s worth of images of the southern sky together to create the beautiful mosaic you see here.
InSight has been on the Martian surface for almost three weeks, prepping itself for all the science it’s going to do. But in the meantime, it’s doing what any self-respecting, modern robotic lander does: Taking pictures of itself. And now NASA has released InSight’s first selfie for all the lander’s adoring fans and Instagram followers.
InSight is on Mars to study the interior of the rocky planet, and provide clues into how rocky planets form, both here in our Solar System, and in distant systems. It’s got a suite of instruments to do that with, including a device that will drill 5m (16 ft.) deep into the planet to measure how heat flows through the core of Mars. But it’s taking a cautious approach to that, using its time wisely to select the perfect spot to deploy its instruments.