On 11 September 2013 the “Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System” (MIDAS) camera captured a bright 8-second long flash on the central nearside of the Moon. This was the brightest event captured so far by the MIDAS team, and they estimated that the crater should be between 46 and 56 meters in diameter. The LROC team targeted the reported coordinates (17.2°S, 339.5°E) of the flash and acquired several images over a few months until the crater was found on 13 April 2014!
Fortunately there was a NAC image of the target area acquired before the impact, so finding the new crater was relatively easy once an “after” image with comparable lighting to the “before” image was acquired. As it turns out the new crater is ~34 meters (112 feet) in diameter and is located at 17.167°S, 339.559°E, only 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the original telescope-based prediction. In the before-after animation you can see ejecta effects from the crater extend out more than 500 meters in all directions!
“The film describes the Lunar Orbiter’s mission to photograph landing areas on the Moon. The Orbiter will be launched from Cape Kennedy using an Atlas Agena booster rocket. Once it is boosted in a trajectory toward the Moon, the Orbiter will deploy two-way earth communication antennas and solar panels for electricity. Attitude control jets will position the solar panels toward the sun and a tracker for a fix on its navigational star. The Orbiter will be put in an off-center orbit around the Moon where it will circle from four to six days. Scientists on Earth will study the effects of the Moon’s gravitational field on the spacecraft, then the orbit will be lowered to 28 miles above the Moon’s surface. Engineers will control the Orbiter manually or by computer to activate two camera lenses. The cameras will capture pictures of 12,000 square miles of lunar surface in 25 and 400 square mile increments. Pictures will be sent back to Earth using solar power to transmit electrical signals. The signals will be received by antennas at Goldstone, CA, and in Australia and Spain. Incoming photographic data will be electronically converted and processed to produce large-scale photographic images. The mission will be directed from the Space Flight Operations Facility in Pasadena, CA by NASA and Boeing engineers. After the photographic mission, the Orbiter will continue to circle the Moon providing information about micrometeoroids and radiation in the vicinity.”
NASA Goldstone radar image of newly-discovered asteroid 2014 RC, which flew past the earth on Sunday, September 7th at a distance of only around 21,000 miles. It’s estimated to be around 20 meters across (roughly the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor), and rotates on its axis in less than 16 seconds, giving it the shortest known “day” of any object in the solar system. The radar image was made with the 70 meter dish at Goldstone, thus the rock is actually smaller (diameter-wise, at least) than the telescope that observed it. The NASA caption:
Bistatic delay-Doppler image from Sep. 7. Resolution is 3.75 m x 50 Hz. This is a 16-second integration that spans one full rotation by the asteroid. The asteroid rotates so rapidly and it’s so small that the radar images do not show any detail. Range increases downward and Doppler frequency increases to the right. At the time of the observations, the asteroid was slightly more than one lunar distance from Earth.
W00089409.jpg was taken on September 03, 2014 and received on Earth September 04, 2014. The camera was pointing toward SATURN at approximately 1,868,571 miles (3,007,174 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and RED filters.
"The Venus Pioneers" - Circa-1978 NASA film about the two Pioneer Venus missions. These probes are largely forgotten today, but they made a big impact on me as a kid. The Pioneer Venus Orbiter made the first, fairly low resolution radar map of the planet’s surface, which was compiled over the course of the first year or so in orbit. One of the monthly magazines, I forget whether it was Sky and Telescope or Astronomy, included an updated map in each month’s issue, so I’d go to the library when a new issue came out, and there’d be a new updated map, and a few more of the blank, empty spaces would be filled in, and later names started to appear. I was just a kid, but I knew I was seeing something everybody was seeing for the first time, and I thought that was amazing. I was hooked.
W00089247.jpg was taken on August 23, 2014 and received on Earth August 24, 2014. The camera was pointing toward SATURN at approximately 1,126,363 miles (1,812,706 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the MT2 and IRP0 filters.
The Sun sported a very long filament (over 30 times the size of Earth) that angled diagonally across its surface for over a week (July 31 – Aug. 6, 2014). Filaments are clouds of cooler gas suspended above the Sun’s surface by magnetic forces. They are notoriously unstable and often break apart in just hours or days. So far, this one has held together as it rotated along with the Sun for over a week. The images were taken in the 193 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light and were tinted red instead of its usual brown hue.
The largest interstellar dust track found in the Stardust aerogel collectors was this 35 micron-long hole produced by a 3 picogram speck of dust that was probably traveling so fast that it vaporized upon impact. The other two likely interstellar dust grains were traveling more slowly and remained in