Comet Dunes?

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from just 7.8 km away. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from just 7.8 km away. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Here is one panel of four images from the Rosetta spacecraft on 18 October when the spacecraft was only 7.8 km from the surface.

The image scale is about 92 cm per pixel according to the caption

The images here were taken about 20 minutes apart and the rotation is apparent, so Photoshop route of putting them together isn’t working out so good. Trying to accomplish the task of putting the four frames together is made more difficult because I am doing it on a laptop. I have a new plan: I am going to print each panel out and see if I can stick them together just for fun, if it works out I will print the frames out on photo paper and put everything on the wall.

You can see all four panels at the Cometwatch Blog you can see if you can put them together too.

I picked this particular image for a couple of reasons: check out the boulders. Seems like they should be rolling down the hill, that’s what having little gravity does for you.

The really interesting thing is towards the center of the image, are those dunes? If they are how did they form?

A Rover View of Comet

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

This is the (annotated) view of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity about two-and-a-half hours before the close encounter with Mars.

Want an non-annotated version?

You will notice some cosmic ray hits are labeled. Very common artifact as anyone who dabbles even a little in astrophotography will attest. This image has been processed to remove detector artifacts and a slight twilight glow. The processing was very well done, sometimes the processing is half the fun.

You can see more images, including a blink between two frames from Opportunity. Do have a look.

HAYABUSA 2

The JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Sagamihara Campus.  Credit: JAXA

The JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Sagamihara Campus. Credit: JAXA

On 30 November 2014 JAXA will launch the Haybusa2 mission to asteroid 1999JU3. This mission is a successor to Haybusa which launched in 2003 to the asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft arrived in 2005 and released a little probe called “Minerva” which actually touched down on the asteroid twice.

There was a sample return on the Hayabusa mission which eventuualy did make it back but not until major obstacles were overcome. In December 2005 communications with the spacecraft was lost. JAXA never once gave in, they regained contact in January 2006, fired up the ion engine and headed home in February 2007. Finally in June 2010 and after an engine anomaly the samples were returned to Earth.

Hayabusa was an incredible mission to say the least.

Now Hayabusa 2 is set to launch and this time it sports a small impactor to make a small crater on 1999JU3. More details are sure to come out but Hayabusa 2 will also be a sample return mission.

Launch date: 30 November 2014
Launch time: 13:24 JST (only if launched on first try, it will vary after that)
Launch site: Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center

Rosetta Orbital Plans

A great ESA animation depicting Rosetta’s orbits and separation of the Philae lander.

On 12 November, Rosetta will move to 22.5 km from the comet and release Philae.

The lander will take about seven hours to get to the surface. In the meantime Rosetta will be maneuvered back to about 50 km from the comet so the lander stays visible. The lander communicates via Rosetta so the visibility is important. Eventually Rosetta’s orbit will be moved back to 20 km.

The actual rotation rate of the comet is 12.5 hours so yes the animation is sped up considerably – it does help the animation.

Video source (ESA)

Widowiak Ridge

The rover Opportunity looks north. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

The rover Opportunity looks north. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Here’s a look at Widowiak Ridge on Mars from the rover Opportunity on sol 3,786! The color approximates natural color on Mars.

The ridge is on the western rim of Endeavour crater, this look is about 70 compass degrees from north-northwest on the left to east-northeast on the right. Widowiak Ridge rises about 12 meters / 40 feet and runs about 150 meters / 500 feet. The view of the area from above.

The name Widowiak is an informal name given to the feature given as a tribute to Opportunity science team member Thomas J. Wdowiak (1939-2013). Informal? Perhaps an exception to the naming convention is in order.

If you have a pair of 3D glasses (Red on left eye, Blue on right eye) there is a really nice 3D image on a companion image.

Another view in false color is located here, no 3D but if you have the glasses take a look anyway. I quite liked it.

Plasma Blob

Part of a CME from the sun.  Credit: SDO / NASA et.al.

Part of a CME from the sun. Credit: SDO / NASA et.al.

On 26 September there was a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. The Solar Dynamic Observatory captured a “twisted blob” of ionized Helium at 60,000 oC.

The image was taken in the extreme UV light to show amazing detail and it is the SDO image of the week.

Here is a link to a video from the SDO site. The link goes to the small version of the video, I liked it best. Other versions are available at the SDO site.

Another Selfie from Rosetta

Rosetta selfie 16km from comet. Copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Rosetta selfie 16km from comet. Copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Very nice! This image was taken with the CIVA camera on the Philae lander which is of course still attached to ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. Just wait until Philae sends pictures from the comet surface.

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is in the background about 16km away.

Check out the details at the Rosetta Blog.

There is a Hi-Res version at the ESA Space in Images site.

A View of Home

How about a view of US from Mercury?  Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

How about a view of US from Mercury? Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

This image is the Earth and Moon as seen from the planet Mercury! The MESSENGER spacecraft took a series of images of the Earth – Moon system on 08 Oct and if you click the image you will see another image beside this one showing the moon during the lunar eclipse!

A bit anticlimactic? You need to watch the animation. Pretty amazing!

From NASA:

MESSENGER was 107 million kilometers (66 million miles) from the Earth at the time of the lunar eclipse. The Earth is about 5 pixels across and the Moon is just over 1 pixel across in the field of view of the NAC, with about 40 pixels distance between them. The images are zoomed by a factor of two and the Moon’s brightness has been increased by a factor of about 25 to show its disappearance more clearly.

Date acquired: October 8, 2014
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)

Einstein Ring

An Einstein ring and galactic collision. CREDIT: W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY/NASA/ESA/ESO

An Einstein ring and galactic collision. CREDIT: W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY/NASA/ESA/ESO

This collaborative image from the Keck II telescope with its wonderful adaptive optics and Hubble show an almost complete Einstein Ring around a galaxy much like our own Milky Way. The ring is “the smeared out image of a star forming galaxy merger far beyond”.

From the Keck website:

MAUNA KEA, HAWAII — An international team of astronomers has obtained the best view yet of a collision that took place between two galaxies when the universe was only half its current age using the W. M. Keck Observatory and many other telescopes on the ground and in space.

To make this observation, the team also enlisted the help of a gravitational lens, a galaxy-size magnifying glass, to reveal otherwise invisible detail. These new studies of galaxy HATLAS J142935.3-002836 have shown that this complex and distant object looks surprisingly like the comparatively nearby pair of colliding galaxies collectively known as the Antennae.

Read the rest at the Keck site.