This image of a southern mid-latitude crater was intended to investigate the lineated material on the crater floor. At the higher resolution of HiRISE, the image reveals a landscape peppered by small impact craters. These craters range from about 30 meters in diameter down to the resolution limit (about 2 meter diameter in this image acquired by averaging 2×2 picture elements). Such dense clusters of small craters are frequently formed by secondary craters, caused by the impact of material that was excavated and ejected from the surface of Mars during the creation of a larger nearby crater by the impact of a comet or an asteroid. Secondary impact craters are both interesting and vexing. They are interesting because they show the trajectories of the material that was ejected from the primary impact with the greatest speeds, typically material from near the surface of the blast zone. Secondary craters are often found along the traces of crater rays, linear features that extend radially from fresh impact craters and can reach many crater diameters in length. Secondary craters can be useful when crater rays are visible and the small craters can be associated with a particular primary impact crater. They can be used to constrain the age of the surface where they fell, since the surface must be older than the impact event. The age of the crater can be approximately estimated from the probability of an impact that produced a crater of such a size within a given area of Mars over a given time period. But these secondary craters can also be perplexing when no crater rays are preserved and a source crater is not easily identifiable, as is the case here. The impact that formed these secondary craters took place long enough ago that their association with a particular crater has been erased. They do not appear along the trace of a crater ray that is still apparent in visible or thermal infrared observations. These secondary craters complicate the task of estimating the age of the lineated material on the crater floor. It is necessary to distinguish secondary craters from the primary impacts that we rely upon to estimate the ages of Martian surfaces. The large number of small craters clustered together here is typical of crater rays elsewhere on Mars and suggests that these are indeed, secondary impact craters. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14450
Mountains on the Moon On the Earth, we are taught that mountains form over millions of years, the result of gradual shifting and colliding plates. On the moon however, the situation is quite different. Even the largest lunar mountains were formed in minutes or less as asteroids and comets slammed into the surface at tremendous velocities, displacing and uplifting enough crust to create peaks that easily rival those found on Earth. On a few occasions in the past year, NASA has tilted the angle of LRO to do calibrations and other tests. In such cases the camera has the opportunity to gather oblique images of the lunar surface like the one featured here of Cabeus Crater providing a dramatic view of the moon’s mountainous terrain. Cabeus Crater is located near the lunar south pole and contains the site of the LCROSS mission’s impact. Early measurements by several instruments on LRO were used to guide the decision to send LCROSS to Cabeus. During the LCROSS impact LRO was carefully positioned to observe both the gas cloud generated in the impact, as well as the heating at the impact site. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University To see the other nine images go to: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/first-year.html NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.
This artist’s concept depicts the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) being raised to a vertical position in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle orbiter. The HST is the product of a partnership between NASA, European Space Agency Contractors, and the international community of astronomers. It is named after Edwin P. Hubble, an American Astronomer who discovered the expanding nature of the universe and was the first to realize the true nature of galaxies. The purpose of the HST, the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, is to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. By placing the telescope in space, astronomers are able to collect data that is free of the Earth’s atmosphere. The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years. The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes. The major elements of the HST are the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA), the Support System Module (SSM), and the Scientific Instruments (SI). The HST is 42.5-feet (13-meters) long and weighs about 25,000 pounds (11,600 kilograms). The HST was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31 mission) into Earth orbit in April 1990. The Marshall Space Flight Center had responsibility for design, development, and construction of the HST. The Perkin-Elmer Corporation, in Danbury, Cornecticut, developed the optical system and guidance sensors. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company of Sunnyvale, California produced the protective outer shroud and spacecraft systems, and assembled and tested the finished telescope.
This is an onboard photo of Astronaut John M. Grunsfield, STS-109 payload commander, participating in the third of five spacewalks to perform work on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). On this particular walk, Grunsfield, joined by Astronaut Richard M. Lirnehan, turned off the telescope in order to replace its power control unit (PCU), the heart of the HST’s power system. The telescope was captured and secured on a work stand in Columbia’s payload bay using Columbia’s robotic arm, where crew members completed system upgrades to the HST. Included in those upgrades were: replacement of the solar array panels; replacement of the power control unit (PCU); replacement of the Faint Object Camera (FOC) with a new advanced camera for Surveys (ACS); and installation of the experimental cooling system for the Hubble’s Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-object Spectrometer (NICMOS), which had been dormant since January 1999 when its original coolant ran out. The Marshall Space Flight Center had the responsibility for the design, development, and construction of the HST, which is the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than is visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years. The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes. Launched March 1, 2002 the STS-109 HST servicing mission lasted 10 days, 22 hours, and 11 minutes. It was the 108th flight overall in NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
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This is a photo of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST),in its origianl configuration, berthed in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-109 mission silhouetted against the airglow of the Earth’s horizon. The telescope was captured and secured on a work stand in Columbia’s payload bay using Columbia’s robotic arm, where 4 of the 7-member crew performed 5 spacewalks completing system upgrades to the HST. Included in those upgrades were: replacement of the solar array panels; replacement of the power control unit (PCU); replacement of the Faint Object Camera (FOC) with a new advanced camera for Surveys (ACS); and installation of the experimental cooling system for the Hubble’s Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-object Spectrometer (NICMOS), which had been dormant since January 1999 when its original coolant ran out. The Marshall Space Flight Center had the responsibility for the design, development, and construction of the the HST, which is the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than is visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years. The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes. Launched March 1, 2002 the STS-109 HST servicing mission lasted 10 days, 22 hours, and 11 minutes. It was the 108th flight overall in NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
NASA Spitzer Space Telescope celebrated its 12th anniversary with a new digital calendar showcasing some of the mission most notable discoveries and popular cosmic eye candy. The digital calendar is online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/spitzer/20150820/Spitzer12thAnniversaryCalendar.pdf The calendar follows the life of the mission, with each month highlighting top infrared images and discoveries from successive years — everything from a dying star resembling the eye of a monster to a star-studded, swirling galaxy. The final month includes a brand new image of the glittery star-making factory known as the Monkey Head nebula. Spitzer, which launched into space on August 25, 2003, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is still going strong. It continues to use its ultra-sensitive infrared vision to probe asteroids, comets, exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) and some of the farthest known galaxies. Recently, Spitzer helped discover the closest known rocky exoplanet to us, named HD219134b, at 21 light-years away. In fact, Spitzer’s exoplanet studies continue to surprise the astronomy community. The telescope wasn’t originally designed to study exoplanets, but as luck — and some creative engineering — would have it, Spitzer has turned out to be a critical tool in the field, probing the climates and compositions of these exotic worlds. This pioneering work began in 2005, when Spitzer became the first telescope to detect light from an exoplanet. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19872
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — With Commander Curtis L. Brown, Jr. and Pilot Kent V. Rominger at the controls, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery touches down on Runway 33 at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility at 7:07:59 a.m. EDT Aug. 19 to complete the 11-day, 20-hour and 27-minute-long STS-85 mission. The first landing opportunity on Aug. 18 was waved off due to the potential for ground fog. Also onboard the orbiter are Payload Commander N. Jan Davis, Mission Specialist Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., Mission Specialist Stephen K. Robinson and Payload Specialist Bjarni V. Tryggvason. During the 86th Space Shuttle mission, the crew deployed the Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere-Shuttle Pallet Satellite-2 (CRISTA-SPAS-2) free-flyer to conduct research on the Earth’s middle atmosphere, retrieving it on flight day 9. The crew also conducted investigations with the Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD), Technology Applications and Science-1 (TAS-1) and International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker-2 (IEH-2) experiments. Robinson also made observations of the comet HaleBopp with the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWIS) while other members of the crew conducted biological experiments in the orbiter’s crew cabin. This was the 39th landing at KSC in the history of the Space Shuttle program and the 11th touchdown for Discovery at the space center
Though fragile comet nuclei have been seen falling apart as they near the Sun, nothing like the slow breakup of an asteroid has ever before been observed in the asteroid belt. A series of Hubble Space Telescope images shows that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a leisurely one mile per hour. This makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating because of a collision with another asteroid. A plausible explanation is that the asteroid is crumbling due to a subtle effect of sunlight. This causes the rotation rate to slowly increase until centrifugal force pulls the asteroid apart. The asteroid’s remnant debris, weighing in at 200,000 tons, will in the future provide a rich source of meteoroids. Hubble Observation of P/2013 R3 – November 15, 2013 Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (University of California, Los Angeles) Read more: 1.usa.gov/1ig2E0x NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram