Pictures of Spacecraft
On Dec. 3, 2013, SpaceX's Falcon 9 version 1.1 placed a communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. This view was taken from a camera mounted to the upper stage from an altitude of 13,000 kilometers.
Chang'e 3 launched toward the Moon on December 1, 2013. Less than an hour after launch, the Chang'e 3 lander separated from its third stage and departed for the Moon, with the crescent Earth as a backdrop. A few seconds in to the video, a sun glint off the spacecraft produces a blinding flare to the camera. Afterward, the third stage was deliberately rolled to capture Earth in its camera field of view.
Just after separation from its third stage rocket on December 1, 2013, the Chang'e 3 lander fires attitude adjustment rockets to trim its course toward the Moon, with a sunrise Earth in the background.
Curiosity used her hand-lens imager to capture a view of the rover's wheels sitting on Martian soil on sol 463 (November 24, 2013). The clear air permits a detailed view of the distant rim of Gale crater in the background. Several holes have been punched clear through the thin metal between Curiosity's wheel treads.
This diagram is in the reference frame of the spacecraft, meaning that the spacecraft is considered fixed and the asteroid appears to be moving from left to right across the diagram. In this reference frame, the asteroid moved with a relative velocity of 10.7277 kilometers per second, and the minimum separation between the spacecraft and asteroid was 770±120 meters.
In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space center, Charley Kohlhase (left), then Cassini's science and mission design manager, and Richard Spehalski, then program manager of the Cassini mission, display the DVD bearing 616,400 digitized signatures from people around the world, before it is attached to the Cassini spacecraft in the background. The handwritten signatures were scanned by volunteers from The Planetary Society.
After rolling off its lander onto the surface of Mars, Spirit turned back to capture this 20-frame mosaic of its empty nest on sol 16 (January 18/19, 2004). The Red Rover Goes to Mars DVD is visible toward the back of the right-hand lander petal.
A technician installs a compact disc on the exterior of the New Horizons spacecraft. The disc contains the names of 434,738 people who signed up to send their names to Pluto, including all current Planetary Society members.
At the Astrotech Space Operations facility at Kennedy Space Center on May 17, 2007, technicians install a microchip onto a side brace of the Dawn spacecraft. The microchip (inset, upper left) contains the names of more than 360,000 people who signed up to send their names to the asteroid belt, as well as the names of all Planetary Society members.
Six instruments comprise the Particles and Fields package: Solar Energetic Particle (SEP); Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA); Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA); SupraThermal and Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC); Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW); and Magnetometer (MAG). There is also an Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) and a Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS).
On sol 34 (September 9, 2012), Curiosity made the first use of her MAHLI arm-mounted camera to take a good look at her wheels and her four Hazcams.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.