Pictures of Spacecraft
This animation shows how the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was positioned for taking multiple images that were combined into a self-portrait.
LightSail engineers and Cal Poly staff test the spacecraft's radio system at a Cal Poly clean room. The LightSail-A 3U CubeSat can be seen sitting on a blue pad behind the plastic curtains that form a dust-and-static free zone.
On sol 708 (August 3, 2014), Curiosity performed a series of short drives followed by MAHLI imaging of each of the wheels, to survey their condition. Here, the images have been sorted and the inter-cleat spaces numbered to make it easier to survey the locations of specific marks, tears, and punctures.
Curiosity's wheels are supported by a "rocker-bogie suspension system." Each side has two arms (a rocker and a bogie) that can pivot, connected to each other through a differential bar and pivot on top of the rover. When one rocker tilts in one direction, the linkage through the differential causes the other rocker to tilt in the opposite director, keeping the rover body relatively level even when the wheels are climbing large obstacles.
Never let it be said that Mars does not care about its robot companions.
(Mars shelters its orbiters from comet Siding Spring.)
Artist's conception of the Deep Space 1 spacecraft. Deep Space 1 flew by asteroid 9969 Braille (formerly known as 1992 KD) on July 28, 1999, at an altitude of only 26 kilometers. However, the only images of Braille were captured from much farther away, about 14,000 kilometers. It went on to fly by comet 19P/Borrelly on September 22, 2001. It flew within 2,171 km of the nucleus at 22:29:33 UT.
This blink animation consists of two 14-minute exposures. The faint speck that moves between the two images is the Dawn spacecraft, a million kilometers from Earth (about three times the Earth-Moon distance), and moving very fast. The telescope tracked Dawn during the long exposures, so the stars in the field of view form long and much brighter trails; the spacecraft glinted at only 20th magnitude at the time of the observation.
Using the 5-meter Hale telescope on Palomar mountain, astronomers captured the faint dot of the Deep Space 1 spacecraft in motion through the constellation Gemini on November 16, 1998, 23 days after its launch. At the time, the spacecraft was 3.7 million kilometers (2.3 million miles) from Earth, and receding at 1.7 kilometers per second (1.1 miles per second).
On the mast are upgraded versions of instruments on Curiosity: Mastcam-Z (color, stereo, 3D, zoom-capable cameras); and SuperCam (upgraded version of ChemCam). On the arm are PIXL, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and imager, and SHERLOC, a Raman spectrometer and imager. RIMFAX is a ground-penetrating radar; MEDA is a meteorological package; and MOXIE will advance goals in in-situ resource utilization by producing oxygen from carbon dioxide.
HiRISE captured Curiosity as the rover sat at the edge of a small ripple field on June 27, 2014 (sol 672). The original photo was grayscale, and has been colorized with an earlier image.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.