Exploration Images

SDO: "Extensive Arch" (September 19th 2014)

A giant arch of plasma rose up out of the Sun and then stretched itself until it had reached back to a point behind our view of the Sun (Sept, 17-18, 2014). Since it emerged from a magnetically intense active region, the arch is likely connecting to another active region over the Sun’s horizon. We rarely see material extend this distance. The images were observed in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 171 Angstroms. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA.

Launch of Apollo 17, the only night launch of a Saturn V rocket. NASA estimated at the time that the launch would be visible from 500 miles away.

"Star Tracker" Tracks Comet ISON (UW-Madison, December 2013)

Gaofen-1:  “Farms along the beach of an estuary”, part of an image release from China’s new earth resources satellite.

Gaofen-1: “Farms along the beach of an estuary”, part of an image release from China’s new earth resources satellite.

Curiosity:  Rover wheels & a little scenery, September 9th 2014

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on September 9, 2014, Sol 744 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 15:36:15 UTC.

When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 12582. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.

Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI’s two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off. 

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity: Rover wheels & a little scenery, September 9th 2014

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on September 9, 2014, Sol 744 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 15:36:15 UTC.

When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 12582. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.

Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI’s two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
MESSENGER: "Staring at the Sea, Staring at the Sand" (September 8th 2014)

Of Interest: The smooth, rolling terrain in this high resolution image looks almost like sand dunes or ripples on a beach. The smooth texture of this region is due to a blanket of pyroclastic material from the volcanic vent located about 85 km to the south of it. To put the size of this image into perspective, a human could run the length of this image in less than an hour (if they could breathe on Mercury, that is!).

This image was acquired as part of the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. During MESSENGER’s second extended mission, the spacecraft makes a progressively closer approach to Mercury’s surface than at any previous point in the mission, enabling the acquisition of high-spatial-resolution data. For spacecraft altitudes below 350 kilometers, NAC images are acquired with pixel scales ranging from 20 meters to as little as 2 meters.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

MESSENGER: "Staring at the Sea, Staring at the Sand" (September 8th 2014)

Of Interest: The smooth, rolling terrain in this high resolution image looks almost like sand dunes or ripples on a beach. The smooth texture of this region is due to a blanket of pyroclastic material from the volcanic vent located about 85 km to the south of it. To put the size of this image into perspective, a human could run the length of this image in less than an hour (if they could breathe on Mercury, that is!).

This image was acquired as part of the MDIS low-altitude imaging campaign. During MESSENGER’s second extended mission, the spacecraft makes a progressively closer approach to Mercury’s surface than at any previous point in the mission, enabling the acquisition of high-spatial-resolution data. For spacecraft altitudes below 350 kilometers, NAC images are acquired with pixel scales ranging from 20 meters to as little as 2 meters.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Apollo 16:  Far-ultraviolet image of the Earth, taken with a small telescope on the lunar surface.

AS16-123-19650 (21 April 1972) —- A far ultraviolet photograph reveals the geocorona, a halo of low density hydrogen which surrounds Earth. The photograph was taken by astronaut John W. Young, Apollo 16 mission commander, during the first spacewalk of his trip to the moon. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot, explored the moon’s surface while Thomas K. Mattingly II, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit. The UV camera was designed and built at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

Apollo 16: Far-ultraviolet image of the Earth, taken with a small telescope on the lunar surface.

AS16-123-19650 (21 April 1972) —- A far ultraviolet photograph reveals the geocorona, a halo of low density hydrogen which surrounds Earth. The photograph was taken by astronaut John W. Young, Apollo 16 mission commander, during the first spacewalk of his trip to the moon. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot, explored the moon’s surface while Thomas K. Mattingly II, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit. The UV camera was designed and built at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:  Before & after photos of a new crater on the moon.

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!

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Before & after photos of a new crater on the moon.

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!
Rosetta:  3D anaglyph of the prime landing site chosen for the Philae lander.

This anaglyph image of Philae’s primary landing site on the ‘head’ of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko can be viewed using stereoscopic glasses with red–green/blue filters.

The two images used to make the anaglyph were taken on 26 August 2014 from a distance of 48 km with Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera. The image scale is 0.96 metres/pixel.

The primary landing location, Site J, was selected during the Landing Site Selection Group meeting held 13–14 September 2014.

Full story: 'J' marks the spot for Rosetta's lander

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta: 3D anaglyph of the prime landing site chosen for the Philae lander.

This anaglyph image of Philae’s primary landing site on the ‘head’ of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko can be viewed using stereoscopic glasses with red–green/blue filters.

The two images used to make the anaglyph were taken on 26 August 2014 from a distance of 48 km with Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera. The image scale is 0.96 metres/pixel.

The primary landing location, Site J, was selected during the Landing Site Selection Group meeting held 13–14 September 2014.

Full story: 'J' marks the spot for Rosetta's lander
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA