A bit of perspective…

…with this stunning composite image of the Earth and its moon, courtesy of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona] From the associated text This composite image of Earth and its moon, as seen from Mars, combines the best Earth image with the best moon image from four sets of images acquired on Nov. 20, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Each … Read more

“an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet.”

Curiosity may have been on the surface of Mars for over a year, but ESA’s Mars Express has been in orbit around the Red Planet for almost a decade.  It’s one of a number of ways Mars is being observed, up close and personal.  And, like the Hi-RISE camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Express has some specialised instruments on-board for that purpose.  Among them is the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).  The stunning 3D images in this video were taken by that camera.   The video was released … Read more

A year of Curiosity

One year ago, after “seven minutes of terror“, Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory, the 900kg rover Curiosity, landed safely on the Red Planet and was soon taking a look around.   [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems]  Full image and caption here. This scene combines seven images from the telephoto-lens camera on the right side of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. The component images were taken between 11:39 and 11:43 a.m., local solar time, on 343rd Martian day, or … Read more

Comet 2013 A1: Rendezvous with Mars…

Here’s something to think about whilst waiting to see if Comet ISON will fizzle, or sizzle.  The latest Science at Nasa video looks at the trajectory, and consequences for Mars missions, of Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring).  Discovered as recently as 3 January this year, this Oort cloud object will pass “extraordinarily close” to the planet Mars on 19 October 2014 – an actual collision, although unlikely, has not been ruled out yet [1:2000].  It’s estimated that an impact of the ~1-3 km-wide Comet 2013 A1, travelling at around … Read more

“This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go”

More wondrous images from Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, now safely on the Martian surface in Gale Crater.  And it’s only warming up its instruments.  Here’s a panaroma of the landing site and the prime mission target, Mount Sharp. Focusing in on Mount Sharp… [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] But the images that have attracted attention are from the telephoto lens [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] As the Nasa press release notes The telephoto images beamed back to Earth show a … Read more

“the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink”

Private family man, engineer, US Navy fighter pilot, war veteran, civilian test pilot, astronaut, academic, businessman, reluctant hero, and the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong has died at the age of 82.  Reg Turnill, who was the BBC’s aerospace correspondent at the time of the first moon landing, gives his thoughts.  Nasa’s tribute is available here. And, via the Professor, Rand Simberg has a detailed biography that’s worth a read. For the 40th Anniversary of the launch of … Read more

Curiosity drops in on Mars – in Hi-res

Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have started roving on the surface of Mars, but there’s still room for more stunning video of its descent. In high-resolution.  Audio from mission control can also be heard, counting down the critical events.  Video from JPL News This movie from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows most of the high-resolution frames acquired by the Mars Descent Imager between the jettison of the heat shield and touchdown. Pete Baker

“Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it.”

Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have damaged one of two sets of wind sensors in its Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) during its dramatic landing on Mars, but it will still be providing daily weather reports from the Red Planet. And, as a JPL/Nasa press release noted yesterday – with moving images Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it. Today, the six-wheeled rover wiggled its four corner wheels side to side for the … Read more

Curiosity: “This is a very low-resolution panorama”

Having survived the seven minutes of terror, and landed successfully at Gale Crater, earlier this week Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, lifted its 2m high camera mast.  And took a look at itself.  [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] Then it took a look at its new surroundings.  In colour. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] JPL have helpfully put together a video of the panoramic view. As the BBC spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes The low-resolution vista shows at centre the big mountain … Read more

“Guess you could consider us the closest thing to paparazzi on Mars”

Another wondrous image from Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).  This time the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard snapped the Red Planet’s “newest celebrity” – the Curiosity rover and its 51-foot-wide (almost 16 metre) parachute descending towards Gale Crater. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona] From the Nasa/JPL press release “If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape,” said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion … Read more

Curiosity: “I’m safely on the surface of Mars”

If you didn’t manage to catch those ‘seven minutes of terror’ earlier this morning for Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, here’s how it worked out. From NasaTelevision As the Curiosity Rover said on Twitter I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL — Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) August 6, 2012 Heh.  And the first image from the landing site at Gale Crater. [Images credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] Another with Curiosity’s shadow visible. … Read more

Curiosity: “It’s like the Olympics for nerds!”

Just a quick reminder that, if everything goes to plan, Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, is scheduled to land on the red planet at 6.30am [BST] tomorrow morning.  As the Curiosity Rover says itself It’s landing day & I’m hours from Mars! Watch my final @nasa prelanding briefing, Aug 5 9:30am PT (1630 UT) ustream.tv/nasajpl — Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) August 5, 2012 And from the Guardian’s Pass Notes No 3,223 Is it all going … Read more

Curiosity: “We’re doing something completely novel, hanging it way out there”

Launched back in November 2011, Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, is scheduled to land on the red planet at 6.30am [BST] on Monday 6 August. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS] They’ve successfully repositioned the orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft to keep in touch with Curiosity as it descends into Gale Crater [pictured above] in a novel way. To achieve the precision needed for landing safely inside Gale Crater, the spacecraft will fly like a wing in the upper … Read more

The Serpent Dust Devil of Mars

  [We’re not in Kansas anymore! – Ed]  Indeed.  Here’s a great little video from JPLNews on the 800m-tall dust devil they spotted on Mars in this wondrous image acquired, on Feb 16 2012, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona] Pete Baker

“Opportunity on Mars – 8 years and counting!”

Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landed in Eagle Crater on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time, three weeks after its rover twin, Spirit, had landed halfway around the planet.  Opportunity completed its three-month prime mission in April that year, everything else has been bonus, extended missions.  Spirit is no longer with us.  But Opportunity carries on. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.] This mosaic of images taken in mid-January 2012 shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location … Read more

Phobos-Grunt: “Re-entry is now imminent”

The BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos, reports on the imminent re-entry of the 13-tonne failed Russian Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt.  Included in that 13-tonnes are more than 10 tonnes of fuel which is expected to explode when the aluminium storage tanks rupture during re-entry.  From the BBC report The Russian space agency says little of the probe will survive to the surface. It calculates no more than 200kg in maybe 20-30 fragments. Precisely where on the Earth’s surface – and when – this … Read more

Sleigh Ride over the Red Planet

A short seasonal diversion from JPLnews, using images of the real landscapes of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.   Pete Baker

“Look again at that dot.”

As Curiosity heads to Mars, and Voyager continues to go boldly further than ever, the BBC reports on some speculative assessments of potentially habitable locations elsewhere in the galaxy.  A timely reminder, then, from the Guardian’s GrrlScientist of our pale blue dot in this short video tribute to Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan (1934-1996), Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space [1997: Amazon UK; Amazon US]. From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any … Read more

“humanity’s first overland expedition on another planet..” – redux

[Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University.]  Having completed what once “seemed like a crazy idea”, Nasa have released a video documenting the journey of Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater.  A “three-year trek that totaled about 13 miles (21 kilometers) across a Martian plain pocked with smaller craters.”  Opportunity arrived on Mars in January 2004 and completed its three-month prime mission in April that year.  The rest have been bonus, extended missions.   The video is compiled from 309 images taken at … Read more

Opportunity at Endeavour

Last seen, on Slugger, at the edge of the football-field sized crater Santa Maria, Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has arrived at its next destination – the 22km wide crater Endeavour.  3 years and 13 miles from its first destination, Victoria crater. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU] A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. This crater — with a diameter of about 14 miles (22 kilometers) — is more … Read more