Heliophysicists (Scientists who study the Sun!) have been waiting more than 60 years for a mission like this to be possible. Parker Solar Probe is journeying closer to the Sun than any of our spacecraft before, in order to help us solve the solar mysteries waiting in the corona (the Sun’s outer atmosphere). The solar wind, along with the Sun’s magnetic field, envelops the inner part of our solar system. Occasionally, large amounts of this solar material spews out in a coronal mass ejection. These can create geomagnetic storms in space, which can cause power outages, disrupt satellite electronics, and even endanger astronauts! Therefore, it’s critical to understand the fundamental physics that power our Sun. This image from Parker Solar Probe shows a coronal streamer — a structure of solar material within the corona that usually indicate regions of increased solar activity. Parker Solar Probe was about 16.9 million miles from the Sun’s surface when this image was taken on Nov. 8, 2018. The bright object near the center of the image is Mercury! As Parker Solar Probe circles closer and closer to the Sun, we look forward to retrieving data to help us address some of our longest unanswered questions about our Sun! ☀️ Credits: NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe
These photos taken by @Astro_Alex_ESA of the @EuropeanSpaceAgency show four different spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (@ISS). Currently, there are 6 spacecraft docked to our orbiting laboratory - the maximum amount that can be parked at one time. These spacecraft arrived at the station to deliver tons of science, hardware, crew supplies, fuel and much more! Credit: ESA/NASA-A.Gerst
How much effort do you put into YOUR selfies? How many photos do you need to take before you’re ready to share? Well, our InSight Mars lander is no stranger to the painstaking selfie process. The spacecraft’s first selfie had to be stitched together from 11 separate images, taken from a camera on its robotic arm. In the selfie, you can easily see the lander’s solar panel and science instruments, including weather sensor booms and UHF antenna. In the coming weeks, scientists will begin the strenuous process deciding where in the “workspace” — a 14-by-7-foot piece of terrain in front of the spacecraft — the instruments should be placed. Then, they will command InSight’s robotic arm to carefully set the seismometer and heat-flow probe in the chosen locations. The more level the ground, the more easily InSight’s heat-flow probe will reach its goal of 16 feet underneath the surface of Mars. There’s a lot to be excited about for InSight— and the selfie is just the start of it!
A cosmic fountain is just as cool as it sounds — and stunningly beautiful to match. When vast amounts of gas fall toward a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy cluster, gravitational and electromagnetic forces spray most of the gas away continuously for tens of millions of years. Scientists combined data from X-ray, radio, and optical telescopes (including @nasachandraxray!) to confirm the first clear evidence for the simultaneous inward and outward flow of gas being driven by a supermassive black hole! Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/G. Tremblay et al; Radio:ALMA: ESO/NAOJ/NRAO/G.Tremblay et al, NRAO/AUI/NSF/B.Saxton; Optical: ESO/VLT
Horizons An astronaut's view from the International Space Station (@iss) is captured in this image of airglow on the horizon between the Earth at nighttime and the starry sky. International Space Station Commander Alex Gerst (@astro_alex_esa) took this photograph, and shared it with a quote from Buckminster Fuller: "The vision itself is less important than the visionary spirit." Image Credit: @EuropeanSpaceAgency/Alex Gerst
What a beauty?! 😍 During its 16th close flyby of the gas giant planet, our @NASAJuno spacecraft captured colorful swirling clouds in Jupiter's North Equatorial Belt. At the time, Juno was about 2,100 miles from the planet's cloud tops. In other words, the spacecraft was about as close to Jupiter as San Francisco is to Chicago, which is quite close when racing over a planet that's 11 times wider than Earth.
Since 2016, Juno has been penetrating Jupiter's deep, colorful zones and belts in a quest to answer fundamental questions about the planet’s origin and evolution. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson
☄️New shape model of Bennu? ✅ 💦 Water in the asteroid’s clay? ✅ 📸 Pics showing rugged terrain? ✅
Today we announced that data from our OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRIS_REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up asteroid Bennu. The presence of hydrated minerals across the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the spacecraft to study. When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system. Additionally, data obtained from the spacecraft’s cameras corroborate ground-based telescopic observations of Bennu and confirm the original model released in 2013. That model closely predicted the asteroid’s actual shape, with Bennu’s diameter, rotation rate, inclination, and overall shape presented almost exactly as projected. The newest shape model can be seen here. One outlier from the predicted shape model is the size of a large boulder near Bennu’s south pole. It’s much larger than we thought! Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
"Putting this journey into words will not be easy, but I will try. I am finally where I was born to be." In her first week in space, Astronaut Anne McClain is getting used to her new home in space with fellow new crew members Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques, who have been onboard the station since Monday. McClain and Saint-Jacques are first-time space residents.
Each day, the International Space Station (@ISS) orbits our home planet as the six humans living and working aboard the orbiting outpost conduct important science and research. Their work will not only benefit life here on Earth, but will help us venture deeper into space than ever before.
Ever wondered how astronauts get deliveries in space? 🤔
@Astro_Alex_ESA of the @EuropeanSpaceAgency shared these looks at @SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft making its way to deliver more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support crew members living and working aboard the International Space Station (@ISS). While the station was traveling about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean, just north of Papua New Guinea, astronauts Alex Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor captured the spacecraft at 7:21 a.m. EST using a robotic arm while astronaut Anne McClain monitored telemetry during the spacecraft’s approach.
The Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2019 and return to Earth with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies. Credit: ESA/NASA
New images from our Mars InSight lander show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting. With a reach of nearly 6 feet, the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander's deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia. This image from InSight's robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft's deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background. The arm will use its Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its elbow, to take photos of the terrain in front of the lander. These images will help mission team members determine where to set InSight's seismometer and heat flow probe, the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet.
Placement is critical, and the team is proceeding with caution. Two to three months could go by before the instruments have been situated and calibrated.
Our @NASAJuno spacecraft is dolphin watching in the cosmos! 🐬
During its 16th close flyby of Jupiter, the spacecraft captured images of changing cloud formations across the southern hemisphere. If you take a close look, a cloud in the shape of a dolphin appears to be swimming through the cloud bands along the South South Temperate Belt. Stay tuned as we keep finding new shapes hidden in the swirling clouds.