Pictures of Spacecraft
Soyuz TMA-08M, carrying the crew of Expedition 36, touches down on the Kazakh steppe on Sept. 11, 2013. The bright orange flash under the vehicle is caused by retro-rockets firing to slow the spacecraft's descent.
In March 2011 the Curiosity rover was housed in a space-simulation chamber to be put through its paces at simulated Martian temperatures and pressures. Curiosity is fully assembled with all primary flight hardware and instruments. The test chamber's door is still open. After the door is closed, a near-vacuum environment can be established, and the chamber walls flooded with liquid nitrogen for chilling to minus 130 degrees Celsius (minus 200 degrees Fahrenheit). A bank of powerful lamps simulates sunshine on Mars. The technician in the picture is using a wand to map the solar simulation intensities at different locations in the chamber just prior to the start of the testing.
LADEE to the Moon! As seen from the Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, about 200 miles north of the launch pad, the first Orbital Sciences Minotaur V rocket sends NASA's LADEE spacecraft on its way to the Moon! The Empire State Building was lit up green and blue in honor of the U.S. Open of Tennis, being played in Flushing, Queens, the week of the launch.
The bright spot in this photo is the Deep Impact impactor, as seen by the Medium Resolution Imager on the flyby spacecraft. It was taken at 06:58 UTC, spacecraft event time, which is just short of an hour after the two spacecraft separated.
This image, taken with the TAROT CNES telescope (Latitude: 43.75deg N - Longitude: 6.92deg E) in southeastern France, reveals the position of MESSENGER as a streak of light near the center. At the time that the image was taken, 20:16:39 UTC (8:16 pm), the MESSENGER spacecraft was about 21,640 km above the eastern Atlantic Ocean near the western coast of Africa - due west of Luanda, Angola and due south of Cote d'Ivoire. Photo credit:
Sixty days of efforts to extricate Spirit from the sand trap at Troy have been, so far, unsuccessful. This animation is composed of 21 right-front hazard avoidance camera images captured from sols 2078 to 2138. The camera has a wide "fish-eye" field of view that can see the workspace in front of the rover, between the two front wheels, all the way to the horizon and Husband Hill in the background.
From the day of its landing to January 2010, the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter obtained photos of the Phoenix lander on Mars. There was a long hiatus in imaging during the Martian winter, when there was not sufficient light for HiRISE to see by; there followed another several-month hiatus while Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was in safe mode. It obtained two photos of Phoenix in the slanting light of northern spring before going into safe mode on August 26, 2009. The difference between the views from 2008 and 2009 may reflect some differences at the landing site (the presence of frost, for instance) but has at least as much to do with the extremely oblique lighting in the 2009 images. The January 2010 image, obtained after the spacecraft came out of safe mode, is under much better lighting conditions.
HiRISE captured this photo of Opportunity on the rover's sol 3361, July 8, 2013. At the time, the rover was taking advantage of summer sunlight to drive southward along the rim of Endeavour crater from Cape York (at the top of the photo), past Sutherland Point and Nobby's Head (at the center of the photo), toward Solander Point (at the bottom). Opportunity is just past halfway from Nobby's Head to the northern tip of Solander Point.
Opportunity took this image of Luis de Torres, a target in the Yuma area along the southeastern rim of Santa Maria Crater. The rover is currently examining the target to determine its content and if these rocks are the source of the hydrated sulfate signal detected from orbit by the CRISM intrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Opportunity used its navigation camera to record this view during its Sol 2476 (Jan. 10, 2011) from a position close to the crater rim on the southeastern edge. Santa Maria is more polygonal in shape than circular, and is estimated to be from 80 to 90 meters in diameter. Contrast has been enhanced to emphasize the textures.
Launched from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers from the cloud tops at closest approach.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.