Pictures of Spacecraft
The Philae lander, attached to the side of Rosetta opposite its high-gain antenna, has six micro-cameras positioned around its circumference to capture panoramic views of its landing site after it touches down: the CIVA instrument. While Philae is still attached to Rosetta, two of CIVA's cameras are able to see the solar panels -- and sometimes other things, including, in this case, the comet. Churyumov-Gerasimenko was about 50 kilometers away when the spacecraft took this photo. Two images with different exposure times were merged to bring out the sunlit details on the comet in combination with the very faintly lit backside of the spacecraft's solar panels. This image has been rotated 180 degrees from the original so that solar illumination appears to be coming from the top.
Between August 11 and 24, the COSIMA instrument on Rosetta exposed a 1-centimeter-square target plate (left) to space to see if they could collect comet dust. Some time between August 17 and 24, the plate collected two large dust grains. More information via the ESA blog.
The box-shaped Rosetta spacecraft, fully assembled with solar panels folded at side and Philae lander attached, awaits vibration testing at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordvijk, the Netherlands.
Rosetta's lander Philae is equipped with the CIVA instrument (Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser). CIVA has six microcameras used to take panoramic pictures. This artist’s impression shows Philae using CIVA to create a panoramic view of its surroundings. The comet surface is an artist’s impression.
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).
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