Philae’s view of its home, Perihelion Cliff. Image(s) Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/CNES/FD via NASA
Rosetta’s Philae lander too this picture of its home, Perihelion Cliff, on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Philae was released by Rosetta on 12 November 2014. The landing did not go quite as planned and the anchor harpoons did not fire. After the initial impact Philae did start sending back data, turns out the lander actually bounced twice. Philae is at the bottom of a cliff and is shaded so there is no power being generated by the solar panels. Click here to get a representation of the landing location.
Contact with the lander was lost when the batteries aboard Philae ran down. Philae may have no power there is hope in August 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will be close enough to the sun for the solar panels on Philae to get enough light to return to life.
A beautful look at the central peaks of Tycho from the LRO. Click for a larger view. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
Todays moon post is from close to home, our own moon. The image above is the central peaks in the crater Tycho as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The central peak complex above is about 15 km / 9.3 miles wide, left to right (southeast to northwest in this view). A very popular target with amateur astronomers, Tycho is about 82 km / 51 miles in diameter. The central peak’s summit is 2 km / 1.24 miles above the crater floor.
Central craters generally form from an impact of a large body onto in this case the lunar surface. The heat generates surface melt and the “liquid” is pushed from the point of impact and then rebounds from the edges back to the center and freezes in place. Rock freezes at a much higher temperature than water as you well know.
Impact craters are a whole study on their own and there are many different types. The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay has a nice web page looking at the different types of craters and central peak formation. Depending on what body the craters are on they may appear a little different than lunar craters, for example: craters on Mercury generally are a little more muted the walls and central peaks don’t seem to reach out as much as lunar craters, this is because in part, Mercury has more gravity than the moon.
Click here to visit the source page for the image and more information about Tycho.
“Pluto is finally becoming more than just a pinpoint of light,” said Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. “LORRI has now resolved Pluto, and the dwarf planet will continue to grow larger and larger in the images as New Horizons spacecraft hurtles toward its targets. The new LORRI images also demonstrate that the camera’s performance is unchanged since it was launched more than nine years ago.”
There are new images from a 25 and 27 January and they were put into a animation showing both Pluto and Charon. The site has another video about Clyde Tombaugh and a great update to the mission – be certain to check it out.
Ceres from Dawn on 04 February. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
The Dawn spacecraft is getting closet to Ceres every day. Above is part of the latest release taken 04 February 2015 from about 145,000 km / 90,000 miles. The resolution is 14 km / 8.5 miles per pixel.
I keep second guessing myself on the curious “white spot”. First I was saying mountain then I was saying crater. To be honest I don’t know what to think any more. Is it a hill or a hole? Check out the animation at the Ceres site made from images also taken on 04 February and see what I mean.
I don’t know how close Dawn will need to be before the question is answered. If another release comes in 10 more days Dawn could be as close as 53,000 km / 33,000 miles. That’s not from any official source just my guess based on current velocities and makes for another fun thing to watch.
By close I mean really close! Rosetta will be a nail biting 6 km / 3.7 miles from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Good thing it’s ESA doing it is all I can say, if anybody can pull it off, they can. At times during the flyby Rosetta will almost speed match the rotational rate of the comet, an amazing opportunity for detail observations from many of Rosetta’s instruments.
“The upcoming close flyby will allow unique scientific observations, providing us with high-resolution measurements of the surface over a range of wavelengths and giving us the opportunity to sample – taste or sniff – the very innermost parts of the comet’s atmosphere,” says Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.
Expedition 42 crew members Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts during a recent interview. Image: NASA
The International Space Station has three cargo ships docked to it. Two of the ships are being prepared for departure.
The SpaceX Dragon ship, currently being loaded with research and gear will leave the ISS on 10 February. The Dragon will be detached from the Harmony module where it is berthed at the ISS by the Canadarm2. The Dragon will re-enter the atmosphere and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California where it will be retrieved.
The other ship, Europe’s ATV-5 (Automated Transfer Vehicle 5) is being turned into something of a garbage scow. The ATV-5 is being laden with rubbish and unwanted cast off gear and it is scheduled for departure on 14 February. The last ATV resupply ship from Europe will deorbit and incinerate on atmospheric re-entry not long after leaving the station.
A few days after the ATV-5 ends its mission a new cargo ship will launch to the station. This one is a new ISS Progress 58 will leave the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 17 February. The trip up should only take six hours and the ship will dock to the Zvezda module.
New Horizons LORRI image while passing Jupiter. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Here is an image from the New Horizon’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as it was passing by the Jupiter system on 02 March 2007.
The image shown is actually a merger of two images one from LORRI which is a high resolution black-and-white image and a lower resolution color image from teh MVIC or Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera. The result is amazing as you can see.
The image shows the Jupiter moons Io and Europa. Io shows the 300 km / 190 mile high volcanic plume from the Tvashtar volcano. There are two other plumes one from the volcano Prometheus (look at the edge at the 9 o’clock position) and Amirana located between the Prometheus and Tvashtar.
Looks can be deceiving too. while Europa appears more distant, it is 790,000 km / 490,000 miles closer then Io. From the image caption:
This image was taken from a range of 4.6 million kilometers (2.8 million miles) from Io and 3.8 million kilometers (2.4 million miles) from Europa.
The bright crescents are from sunshine as you might expect and the nighttime side of Io is lit by reflected light from Jupiter.
For more details about the image have a look at CICLOPS, the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations
The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, installed on its payload adapter being readied for the 11 February launch. Credit: ESA–M. Pedoussaut, 2015
February is here and soon ESA’s IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) will be put to a big test.
The IXV is about the size of a car and will be lifted by a Vega rocet from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana this month if all goes well. The IXV will reach an altitude of about 420 km / 256 miles and then it will reach a speed of 7.5 km/sec or 16,777 mph as it interfaces with the atmosphere at 120 km / 74 miles.
The idea is to simulate any re-entry from low Earth orbit. YES! This is huge! ESA will open up a whole new set of possibilities with the capability of atmospheric return.
There is quite a bit of speculation about the white/bright spot on Ceres. At first it looked to me like a mountain, but now after taking another look at the image I’m going with crater. I know, going from hill to hole is quite a change.
Thanks to a trick my brain plays sometimes making craters look like “lumps”, I have to turn images that feature craters upside down to see them properly. The trick I am told, occurs because of the direction of the lighting. Flip the latest Ceres image and the result is very interesting.
The latest Dawn image of Ceres rotated 180 degrees. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
The white spot does indeed look more like a crater (to me). The color probably comes from a substrate of ice exposed by some sort of impact disrupting a darker covering. ESA’s Herschel did find water vapor around Ceres and Michael Küppers of ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre in Spain, lead author of the paper published in Nature said “This is the first time that water has been detected in the asteroid belt, and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere . . . ”. See the story here.
Perhaps the bright spot is some sort of melt pool and crater hybrid or maybe it’s the same thing as the dark spots at the top center in this image except the interior isn’t shadowed.
I don’t know, I’m pretty sure it is NOT an alien base though