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Pictures of Spacecraft

Philae's passenger-side view of comet Churuymov-Gerasimenko

Philae's passenger-side view of comet Churuymov-Gerasimenko

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.

Filed under Rosetta and Philae, pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, comets, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, spacecraft

COSIMA's first comet dust

COSIMA's first comet dust

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.

Filed under Rosetta and Philae, pretty pictures, spacecraft

Rosetta and Philae prepare to undergo vibration testing, April 2002

Rosetta and Philae prepare to undergo vibration testing, April 2002

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.

Filed under Rosetta and Philae, pretty pictures, spacecraft

Philae's panoramic camera

Philae's panoramic camera

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.

Filed under Rosetta and Philae, spacecraft, art, animation

Dawn in LAMO at Ceres

Dawn in LAMO at Ceres

Artist’s concept of Dawn in LAMO, pointing its scientific instruments at Ceres.

Filed under pretty pictures, asteroids, Dawn, spacecraft, art, asteroid 1 Ceres

SLS pierces the clouds

SLS pierces the clouds

The 70-metric-ton version of NASA's Space Launch System pierces the clouds in this artist's rendering.

Filed under Space Policy, human spaceflight, spacecraft

Progress M-23M departs

Progress M-23M departs

The Progress M-23M spacecraft departs from the ISS on July 22, 2014. The vehicle's serial number, 427, is hand-written on the docking hatch.

Filed under pretty pictures, human spaceflight, spacecraft, International Space Station

Animation of Curiosity Rover's Arm Movements for Taking a Self-Portrait

Animation of Curiosity Rover's Arm Movements for Taking a Self-Portrait

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.

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

New Horizons at Pluto

New Horizons at Pluto

Artist's concept of New Horizons as it reaches Pluto.

Filed under New Horizons, pretty pictures, Pluto, spacecraft, art

LightSail-A in the clean room

LightSail-A in the clean room

The LightSail-A spacecraft sits in a Cal Poly clean room prior to a scrubbed day-in-the-life test on Aug. 20, 2014.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, LightSail

Troubleshooting LightSail's radio system

Troubleshooting LightSail's radio system

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.

Filed under spacecraft, LightSail, Planetary Society People

Curiosity wheel survey, sol 708

Curiosity wheel survey, sol 708

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.

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

Curiosity mobility system, labeled

Curiosity mobility system, labeled

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.

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

Diagram of a Curiosity wheel

Diagram of a Curiosity wheel

A Curiosity wheel before it was attached to the rover and flown to Mars, labeled with all of its component parts.

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

I'll save you, robots!

I'll save you, robots!

Never let it be said that Mars does not care about its robot companions.

(Mars shelters its orbiters from comet Siding Spring.)

Filed under Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), pretty pictures, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, comet Siding Spring, MAVEN, spacecraft, Mars, art, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mars 2020 RIMFAX

Mars 2020 RIMFAX

Artist’s concept of how the RIMFAX surface penetrating radar aboard the Mars 2020 rover will study rock formations below the surface.

Filed under Mars 2020, pretty pictures, spacecraft, Mars, art

Deep Space 1

Deep Space 1

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.

Filed under pretty pictures, spacecraft, art, Deep Space 1

Dawn spacecraft, a million kilometers away

Dawn spacecraft, a million kilometers away

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.

Filed under pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, Dawn, spacecraft, optical telescopes, animation

Photo of Deep Space 1

Photo of Deep Space 1

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).

Filed under pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, spacecraft, Deep Space 1, optical telescopes

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