Look at what the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter found.
A look at Neptune and one of its moons Triton from New Horizons spacecraft on 10 July 2014. When the image was taken, New Horizons had not crossed the orbit of Neptune. At the orbit crossing New Horizons was actually closer to Pluto than Neptune.
Coming up very soon, on 06 December 2015 New Horizons will exit sleep mode for the last time. The spacecraft has periodically gone in and out of sleep mode so there shouldn’t be any surprises. From then on the spacecraft will be fully awake and very shortly after will start taking science data. We should get some tantalizing views of the Plutonian system from the same camera that took the one above: New Horizons telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI).
Aside from the amazing Rosetta mission there is quite a lot of other things going on, so here’s a video to catch up a little with NASA.
A NASA press conference on Tuesday 28 October after the Orbital Science incident. It’s a little long but quite interesting.
Another bit of information from the flight of Ebb and Flow the twin spacecraft of the GRAIL mission. Essentially a topographical map blended with a gravity map to show gravitational anomalies thanks to the combined input from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Grail.
Best to let NASA explain:
Topography of Earth’s moon generated from data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, with the gravity anomalies bordering the Procellarum region superimposed in blue. The border structures are shown using gravity gradients calculated with data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. These gravity anomalies are interpreted as ancient lava-flooded rift zones buried beneath the volcanic plains (or maria) on the nearside of the Moon.
October is going to be a busy and fun month for sky watchers.
- A lunar eclipse – JUST DAYS AWAY!
- A partial solar eclipse
- and a comet visits Mars!
I am in the partial lunar eclipse zone, clouds and rain are in forecast.
The twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, gathered data during their mission while orbiting the moon and they give us a little bit of an explanation of what the results show.
There hasn’t been too much coming out about the mission since this almost a year ago: NASA’s GRAIL Mission Puts a New Face on the Moon
Here’s the press release from the NASA:
A view of Earth’s moon looking south across Oceanus Procellarum, representing how the western border structures may have looked while active. The gravity anomalies along the border structures are interpreted as ancient, solidified, lava-flooded rifts that are now buried beneath the surface of the dark volcanic plains, or maria, on the near side of the moon.
The MAVEN spacecraft will enter a Martian orbit on 21 September. After a six-week period of fine tuning the orbit and scientific instruments the spacecraft will begin to take measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.
NOTE: The SpaceX launch has changed the launch date and time – see the previous post.
Rosetta has been eclipsing most of the news lately, as it should. NASA is also staying busy as always and the first data is coming in from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2.
Part of the update is about the Cygnus spacecraft leaving the ISS laden with trash. The Cygnus is about to re-enter the atmosphere and will burn up. This should occur at 13:11 UTC / 0911 EDT, today (Sunday). The atmospheric interface will occur between New Zealand and South America and is timed so the ISS crew can observe the fiery demise of the spacecraft.