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Pictures of Spacecraft

MAVEN solar panel deployment test

MAVEN solar panel deployment test

Deployment of the two "gull-wing" solar panels on the MAVEN spacecraft at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado on March 21, 2013. Wingtip to wingtip, the spacecraft measures 11.43m in length.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, MAVEN

Soyuz TMA-08M touches down

Soyuz TMA-08M touches down

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.

Filed under spacecraft, human spaceflight, Russian human spaceflight

Curiosity undergoing environmental testing

Curiosity undergoing environmental testing

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.

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

LADEE heads to the Moon aboard Minotaur V

LADEE heads to the Moon aboard Minotaur V

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.

Filed under pretty pictures, best of, LADEE, spacecraft

The Deep Impact Impactor spacecraft, an hour after separation

The Deep Impact Impactor spacecraft, an hour after separation

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.

Filed under mission status, pics of spacecraft in space, Deep Impact

MESSENGER as seen from Earth, a year after launch

MESSENGER as seen from Earth, a year after launch

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:

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, pics of spacecraft in space, MESSENGER

Spirit forward hazcam animation, sols 2078-2138

Spirit forward hazcam animation, sols 2078-2138

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.

Filed under pics of spacecraft in space, pretty pictures, Spirit, amateur image processing, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars, animation

The sun sets on Phoenix

The sun sets on Phoenix

In this artist's concept illustration, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander begins to shut down operations as winter sets in.

Filed under pretty pictures, Phoenix, spacecraft, Mars, art

Phoenix landing site monitoring from HiRISE: January 6, 2010

Phoenix landing site monitoring from HiRISE: January 6, 2010

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, its backshell and its heatshield are visible within this enhanced-color image of the Phoenix landing site.

Filed under pics of spacecraft in space, pretty pictures, Phoenix, Mars, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Five views of the Phoenix lander from HiRISE

Five views of the Phoenix lander from HiRISE

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.

Filed under pics of spacecraft in space, pretty pictures, amateur image processing, Phoenix, Mars, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, animation

HiRISE view of Opportunity, sol 3361

HiRISE view of Opportunity, sol 3361

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.

Filed under pics of spacecraft in space, pretty pictures, Opportunity, amateur image processing, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Luis de Torres brushed

Luis de Torres brushed

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.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, amateur image processing, Mars, Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity

Opportunity at Santa Maria

Opportunity at Santa Maria

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.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, Mars, Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity

Juno

Juno

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.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, art, Juno

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