solar system

ISS Crossing a Spotless Sun

The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun (by Rainee Colacurcio): https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190715.html

I saw this image yesterday morning, and I continue to be transfixed by it. Obviously, there is one heck of a visual illusion going on here, as the ISS is in low Earth orbit and the sun is 93 million miles away, but it's powerful nonetheless.😯

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

To the Moon and Beyond

Everything you ever wanted to know about Artemis, the lunar gateway and other lunar plans - and then some: https://www.bbc.co.uk/…/e…/nkzysaP3pB/to-the-moon-and-beyond.

I do feel like the article minimizes the near-certain role SpaceX and/or Blue Origin rockets and modules are going to play, in favor of presenting the official NASA line (Orion, SLS). But otherwise it's an informative, wide-ranging article (without getting into the nitty-gritty technical details).

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

New Lease on Life for the Voyagers

Voyagers 1 and 2 have the distinction of being in space for 42 years and still operating. And even though they’re 18 billion km (11 billion miles) from the Sun, they’re still valuable scientifically. But they’re running out of energy, and NASA has been working on how to stretch their remaining power for as long as possible.

https://www.universetoday.com/142802/nasa-has-figured-out-how-to-extend-the-lives-of-the-voyagers-even-longer/

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Dragonfly is Headed to Titan

NASA has announced its next big "New Frontiers" mission: DRAGONFLY, a nuclear-powered drone/rotorcraft lander, will visit Titan, the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere rich in nitrogen and carbon (and one of the coolest stellar bodies to boot), to search for the molecules of alien life.

Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034.

Much more at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-nasa-mission-will-fly-titans-frigid-skies-to-search-for-lifes-beginnings/

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter (additional tweets: here and here.

Tumultuous Clouds of Jupiter

This stunning image of Jupiter's stormy northern hemisphere was captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet. Some bright-white clouds can be seen popping up to high altitudes on the right side of Jupiter's disk.

Juno took the four images used to produce this color-enhanced view on May 29, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 20th science pass of Jupiter. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was between 11,600 miles (18,600 kilometers) and 5,400 miles (8,600 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops.

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/tumultuous-clouds-of-jupiter/

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Initially posted on Twitter.

Stunning Close-Up of Asteroid Bennu

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Takes Stunning Photo of Asteroid Bennu From Just 0.4 Miles Away. This image of asteroid Bennu was captured on Jun. 13, 2019, shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft executed its second orbital insertion maneuver. From the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit, half of Bennu is sunlit and half is in shadow. At this distance, details as small as 1.6 ft (0.5 m) across can be resolved in the center of the image.

https://gizmodo.com/nasas-osiris-rex-spacecraft-takes-stunning-photo-of-ast-1835601275

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Bam! Fresh Crater Spied on Mars — and It Looks Spectacular

A small space rock crashed into the Red Planet's surface recently, producing a fresh crater that researchers estimate is 49 feet to 53 feet (15 to 16 meters) wide. The dramatic feature is clearly visible in a newly released image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

https://www.space.com/mars-fresh-crater-nasa-mro-photo-2019.html

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Asteroid Selfie

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft grabs epic close-up just 30 feet above asteroid Ryugu: https://www.cnet.com/news/japans-hayabusa2-spacecraft-snaps-close-up-just-30-feet-above-asteroid/

Hayabusa2 has been hanging out orbiting Ryugu for almost a year now, doing science, shooting cannonballs at it, snapping pics and, soon, snagging a material sample.

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Mars 2020 Rover Has A Date With Jezero Crater

This is where the Mars 2020 Rover is heading. From this picture, I think you can guess why.

Jezero Crater is an ancient lake that formed inside an impact crater. Detailed study of the features of the lake led scientists to conclude that the lake is ancient and did not experience times when water went down. Due to its long lifespan as a lake, it’s possible that life may have developed in the lake. It’s possible, though not necessarily likely, that preserved signs of life are waiting to be discovered at Jezero Crater.

https://www.universetoday.com/142357/this-is-where-mars-2020-rover-is-heading-from-this-picture-i-think-you-can-guess-why/

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Originally posted on Twitter.

The Sky In X-Ray

NASA is building up a map of the entire sky seen in X-rays, line by line with its NICER experiment.

In this image, numerous sweeping arcs seem to congregate at various bright regions. You may wonder: What is being shown? Air traffic routes? Information moving around the global internet? Magnetic fields looping across active areas on the Sun?

In fact, this is a map of the entire sky in X-rays recorded by NASA's Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), a payload on the International Space Station.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-05/nsfc-nnm053019.php

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Ice On Mars

New layers of water ice have been found beneath Mars' North Pole . These layers were found to be 90% water in some places, and are believed to be the remnants of ancient polar ice sheets. If melted, the researchers indicate that they would create a global ocean with a depth of at least 1.5 meters.

https://www.universetoday.com/142308/new-layers-of-water-ice-have-been-found-beneath-mars-north-pole/

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Boulders on Bennu

An abundance of boulders litters the surface of asteroid 101955 Bennu in this dramatic close-up from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Taken on March 28 from a distance of just 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles) the field of view is about 50 meters across while the light colored boulder at top right is 4.8 meters tall. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190524.html

Incredible to think about, isn’t it?

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Originally posted on Twitter.

A Vision Of Our Future

Lots of big news out of Blue Origin! Jeff Bezos gave an inspirational and aspirational speech in which he laid out a far-reaching vision for getting humans, manufacturing and resource development out into the solar system. That starts with the moon, and he unveiled a new lunar lander module, secretly in development for the last 3 years, which he causally offered to NASA for use in their 2024 lunar landing plans.

Here’s an overview of the event: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/jeff-bezos-unveils-his-sweeping-vision-for-humanitys-future-in-space/, or you can watch the entire presentation here (it’s worth it if you have the time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ98hGUe6FM.

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

The Moon Is In Fact A Harsh Mistress

The Israeli Beresheet lunar lander encountered engine trouble during the final minute of its descent, and the craft wasn't able to slow down enough, resulting in a crash landing. 😔

Space is hard, guys. And the moon is a MFing harsh mistress.

Below is the last image Beresheet beamed back before its crash landing. So beautiful! 

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Originally posted on Facebook.

A Busy Week in the Stars

It's a busy week for our accelerating journey into the stars, so keep one eye on the news - or this page, because you know I'll be posting. 😎

Wednesday at 9am EST, scientists are expected to reveal the first ever direct imaging of the event horizon of a black hole 😯, as part of the results of the Event Horizon Telescope (actually 10 radio telescopes on 4 continents). It's a surprise whether the image and data will relate to Sag A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, or the one in the M87 galaxy. You can watch the press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7WUmAgTKJg.

Wednesday evening (EST), SpaceX will conduct its second launch of its massive Falcon Heavy rocket - then attempt to land the central core and both side boosters at 3 separate locations. 😲 You can watch the launch and landings here: https://www.spacex.com/webcast.

Thursday afternoon (EST), the Israeli privately funded Beresheet lunar lander will attempt to - you guessed it. Land on the moon. 🌝 You can watch the landing here: https://contactgbs.com/space/.

✨💫✨

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Originally posted on Facebook.