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Pictures of Spacecraft

Orion parachute test, drop day

Orion parachute test, drop day

NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed a key parachute test August 26, 2016 at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. After being dropped by a C-17 aircraft from a height of 35,000 feet, Orion descended to the ground with a simulated failure of one drogue parachute and one main parachute. This was the sixteenth parachute development test, and the next-to-last of the program before crewed flight qualification tests begin next year.

Filed under pretty pictures, Orion, spacecraft

Orion parachute test, drop day

Orion parachute test, drop day

NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed a key parachute test Aug. 26 at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. After being dropped by a C-17 aircraft from a height of 35,000 feet, Orion descended to the ground with a simulated failure of one drogue parachute and one main parachute. This was the sixteenth parachute development test, and the next-to-last of the program before crewed flight qualification tests begin next year.

Filed under pretty pictures, Orion, spacecraft

Orion parachute test, drop day

Orion parachute test, drop day

NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed a key parachute test Aug. 26 at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. After being dropped by a C-17 aircraft from a height of 35,000 feet, Orion descended to the ground with a simulated failure of one drogue parachute and one main parachute. This was the sixteenth parachute development test, and the next-to-last of the program before crewed flight qualification tests begin next year.

Filed under Orion, spacecraft

Rosetta flies by an asteroid

Rosetta flies by an asteroid

Artist's concept of the Rosetta spacecraft flying by asteroid (21) Lutetia.

Filed under Rosetta and Philae, pretty pictures, asteroids, asteroid 21 Lutetia, spacecraft, art

Rover family portrait

Rover family portrait

Members of the Mars Exploration Rovers Assembly, Test and Launch Operations team gather around Rover 2 (which was to be named Spirit later) and its predecessor, a flight spare of the Pathfinder mission's Sojourner rover, named Marie Curie, in February 2003, during its first driving test.

Filed under pretty pictures, Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit, Mars Exploration Rovers, spacecraft

Mars 2020 rover concept sketch

Mars 2020 rover concept sketch

This artist's sketch is based on the Curiosity rover in NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, with proposed modifications based on the science definition team's recommendations. Mission planners would potentially leverage aspects of Curiosity rover design for a Mars mission designed to launch in 2020.

Filed under Mars 2020, pretty pictures, spacecraft, art

Lunar Prospector Launches

Lunar Prospector Launches

NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft launched successfully on its way to the Moon from Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Station on Jan 6, 1998 at 9:38 p.m. EST.

Filed under NASA lunar missions before 2005, pretty pictures, spacecraft, the Moon

The Death of the Falcon

The Death of the Falcon

This amazing video of the end of the Hayabusa mission was captured from the window of a DC-8 aircraft operated by NASA as part of the Hayabusa Re-entry Airborne Observing Campaign. The movie captures the fiery breakup of the Hayabusa mothership, as well as the steadier burn of the sample return capsule. The original video can also be viewed on YouTube or you can download it here (42 MB, Quicktime format). To produce this animation, one frame per second was extracted from the full movie, and the frames aligned on the position of the reentry capsule. Then the contrast was adjusted to set the sky black and emphasize subtler features in the fireballs. (Click the image to view a higher resolution version.)

Filed under pretty pictures, Hayabusa (MUSES-C), amateur image processing, best of, spacecraft, animation

Hayabusa lights up the Australian sky (animation)

Hayabusa lights up the Australian sky (animation)

In ten screen caps from a Web camera feed run by Wakayama University, the Hayabusa spacecraft ends its seven-year mission by burning up over Australian skies.

Filed under pretty pictures, Hayabusa (MUSES-C), spacecraft, animation

Curiosity's belly-pan self portrait test

Curiosity's belly-pan self portrait test

All sequences involving Curiosity's robotic arm must be tested with the Virtual System Testbed (VSTB, nicknamed "Maggie") before being run on Mars. This is a test of the 360-degree panorama inspired by Curiosity's sol-34 "belly pan", performed on July 30, 2013. The sequence was eventually run on Mars on sol 1065 (August 5, 2015). The seated engineer is Joseph Carsten, the rover planner who developed the Curiosity self-portrait arm sequences.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Curiosity's sol 1065 MAHLI self-portrait (official version)

Curiosity's sol 1065 MAHLI self-portrait (official version)

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle above the "Buckskin" rock target, where the mission collected its seventh drilled sample. The site is in the "Marias Pass" area of lower Mount Sharp. It was taken on sol 1065 with the MAHLI camera on the end of the robotic arm.

Filed under pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, spacecraft, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Self-Portrait of Curiosity's 'Stunt Double'

Self-Portrait of Curiosity's 'Stunt Double'

Camera and robotic-arm maneuvers for taking a self-portrait of the NASA Curiosity rover on Mars were checked first by the Vehicle System Test Bed (VSTB) rover, a test unit located in the Mars Yard at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Filed under pretty pictures, explaining technology, spacecraft, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Curiosity's Arm Held High

Curiosity's Arm Held High

This photo was taken during testing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on June 3, 2011 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm holds five devices. In this view, the drill is at the six o'clock position. The next device clockwise is the Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis device, or CHIMRA. It includes a soil scoop and a set of chambers and labyrinths for sieving, sorting and portioning samples of rock powder or soil for delivery to analytical instruments. At the 10 o'clock position is the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). Behind the forearm are the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and the Dust Removal Tool (DRT). All told, the turret alone weighs 34 kilograms -- three times more than the total mass of the first Mars rover, Sojourner (11.5 kg).

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Curiosity sol 1065 MAHLI self-portrait: component images

Curiosity sol 1065 MAHLI self-portrait: component images

Curiosity's arm-mounted MAHLI camera took 72 individual photos over a period of about an hour in order to cover the entire rover and a lower hemisphere including 360 degrees around the rover and more than 90 degrees of elevation. It took 2 tiers of 20 images to cover the entire horizon, and fewer images at lower elevations to cover the bottom of the image sphere. The arm was kept out of most of the images but it was impossible to keep the arm's shadow from falling on the ground in positions immediately in front of the rover.

Filed under pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, amateur image processing, spacecraft, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Curiosity MAHLI self-portrait, sol 1065

Curiosity MAHLI self-portrait, sol 1065

Curiosity captured this on Sol-1065 (August 5th, 2015) using its MAHLI camera on the end of the arm to mark its 3rd year on Mars.

Filed under pretty pictures, amateur image processing, spacecraft, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Dawn in survey orbit at Ceres

Dawn in survey orbit at Ceres

Artist’s concept of Dawn thrusting with ion engine #2. The background image was acquired on June 18, 2015 by the Dawn spacecraft.

Filed under pretty pictures, asteroids, Dawn, spacecraft, asteroid 1 Ceres

Pretty picture: Fly through the aurora

Pretty picture: Fly through the aurora

Noguchi took this photo from his berth aboard the International Space Station on April 5, 2010, as the Station flew through Earth's aurora at 28,000 kilometers per hour. A geomagnetic storm was exciting an unusual level of auroral activity at the time. A Russian Progress module is visible docked to the Station in the middle ground.

Filed under human spaceflight, Earth, spacecraft, International Space Station, Russian human spaceflight

Simulated New Horizons spacecraft views down spacecraft axes

Simulated New Horizons spacecraft views down spacecraft axes

Six views of the New Horizons spacecraft, looking down each of the spacecraft axes. The spacecraft coordinate system is such that +X is out along the RTG, +Y is up through the antenna, and +Z is out in the direction of Alice and Ralph. Visit this page for individual images devoted to each axial view. The same model was used to produce this animated turntable view of New Horizons.

Filed under New Horizons, pretty pictures, spacecraft, art

The long road to a Pluto mission

The long road to a Pluto mission

From Pluto 350 in 1990 to the launch of New Horizons in 2006, it took 16 years and five spacecraft designs to get a mission to Pluto.

Filed under New Horizons, pretty pictures, Pluto, spacecraft

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