Pictures of Spacecraft
Curiosity took this self-portrait with its arm-mounted MAHLI camera on sol 1126, a few days after drilling in the Stimson unit at Big Sky. The portrait is a mosaic of dozens of images; the arm cannot photograph itself, so is not visible in the composite photo, although its shadow on the ground is.
Drives by the Spirit rover from Jan. 14 to Feb. 4, 2010 (Sols 2145 to 2165) moved the center of the rover approximately 13.4 inches (34 centimeters) backwards. Since Jan 26 (sol 2157), drive commands have concentrated on placing Spirit into a favorable tilt toward the sun as the Martian winter approaches.
On March 13, 2008, the International Space Station (ISS) passed across the field of view of Germany's remote sensing satellite, TerraSAR-X, at a distance of 195 kilometers.
In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not "see" surfaces. Instead, it is much more sensitive to the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits. Unless they are directly facing the radar spacecraft, smooth surfaces such as those on the ISS solar and radiator panels, do not reflect a strong signal to the detector, so they appear dark. Yet the bright spots outlining edges and corners clearly show the shape of the ISS. The central element on the ISS, to which all the modules are docked, has a grid structure that presents a multiplicity of reflecting surfaces to the radar beam, making it readily identifiable. This image has a resolution of about one meter.
A mosaic of two Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images solves a longstanding puzzle in lunar exploration: just how close together did the Soviet sample return missions Luna 23 and Luna 24 land? Both were sent to Mare Crisium. Luna 23 was damaged during its landing on November 6, 1974 and failed to collect any samples, though it did return data for three days. Luna 24 landed nearby on August 22, 1976, collecting 170 grams of dust and rocks and returning them to Earth. But the landing locations were never very well constrained until now. These photos reveal the two landers to be well separated at about 2,400 meters apart. Furthermore, they show Luna 24 to be located on the edge of a small crater, meaning that its samples came from the crater's ejecta blanket. Original image
The Luna 20 descent stage has been sitting on the lunar highlands since its landing on February 21, 1972. On February 22, 1972, a sample return capsule launched from this spot, carrying 55 grams of lunar soil back to Earth.
The HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this view of the Opportunity rover as it sat near the edge of the small, very fresh crater Concepción on sol 2153 (February 13, 2010). Opportunity's tracks can be seen marching off to the north behind it.
Dawn launched at dawn (7:34 a.m. EDT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Sep. 27, 2007. Its mission is to learn about the dawn of the solar system by studying Vesta and Ceres. The intricate sequence of activities between the time this photo was taken and Dawn’s separation from the rocket to fly on its own is described here.
Two images of the Phoenix lander taken by the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on July 20, 2008 (top) and May 7, 2010 (bottom) document the damage done to the lander by the intervening Martian polar winter. The images are enlarged by a factor of three. The two most obvious differences are a lack of bright reflection from the metal surfaces of the lander's main body -- which suggest that it is covered with dust -- and the disappearance of the solar panels and their accompanying shadows -- which suggest that the panels collapsed over the winter.
The 3.6-meter optical/infrared Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Hawaii captured this impressive sequence of SMART-1 impact images showing before, during, and after the impact. The impact flash -- which lasted only about 1 millisecond -- may have been caused by the thermal emission from the impact itself or by the release of spacecraft volatiles, such as the small amount of hydrazine fuel remaining on board.
Curiosity performed a complete five-position survey of all wheels on sol 1046 with the MAHLI camera on the end of the arm. The damage to the wheels has changed only slightly since sol 708.
Artist's concept of the Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), an Arizona State University-built CubeSat about the size of a shoebox that will be used to produce a map of the water resources on the Moon for future human exploration.
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.
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