Space News: Photos of the Week

This week there were just too many fantastic photo releases to pick just one and stick with it, so here are some of the great stories popping up with fantastic images to accompany them: Fine Detail From Rosetta on 67P This amazing shot from the Rosetta orbiter shows such incredible detail as comet 67P catches light from the sun.  The shadows are what makes this image spectacular as you can see so many fine features.  The other noteworthy part of the image is the bright streaks of material coming off the comet in the background.  As the comet and the...

Dawn is Approaching Ceres

…and not the ‘dawn’ we refer to when watching a sunrise.  Dawn is a NASA spacecraft that was launched in 2007 with the goal of exploring the asteroid belt by observing its largest and most interesting objects up close.  The two largest asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, have been the largest mission goals of Dawn as it has journeyed through the belt. From July 2011 to September 2012, Dawn was in orbit around the 525 Km wide Vesta, snapping amazing photos and studying the giant in detail. Since it’s departure from Vesta in September 2012, the craft has been on route...

Asteroid Belt vs. Kuiper Belt vs. Oort Cloud

Ever wondered the difference? The Asteroid Belt, shown above, consists of hundreds of thousands of rocks, with all kinds of different shapes, ranging in size from the Dwarf Planet Ceres at 950 Km in Diameter, down to small bits the size of dust particles.  It lies between Mars and Jupiter. The Kuiper Belt (pronounced Kai-per) consists of Icy rocks, and it a major source of short-period Comets in the Solar system.  Extending beyond the planet Neptune, Pluto was discovered to be one of the largest objects in the belt. The mysterious Oort cloud is a collection of Comets, thought to...

Voyager has been Rocked by Interstellar Tsunamis!

Voyager 1, launched way back in 1977, is still giving us Science, far away beyond the influence of the Sun.  In the past few years, the spacecraft has passed the boundary between the Solar System and the Interstellar Medium, the so called Heliopause.  This has given scientists the first ever direct look at the Space between stars. Since then, Voyager has felt some interesting shock waves, which are being referred to as ‘Tsunami Waves.’ When the Sun emits a Coronal Mass Ejection, the charged particles travel through the Solar System as a pressure wave.  When this wave hits the Heliopause...

Rosetta Sheds New Light on Origin of Earth’s Oceans

One of the most important science goals of the Rosetta mission is to determine the conditions in the early solar system, as well as the element abundance and climate that led to the development of life on Earth. By studying a comet that has been isolated in Space for 4.5 Billion years, we can learn about the formation of the Solar System and the origin of the raw materials for life on Earth.  The Earth was thought to be so warm when it formed that any water would have evaporated away into space.  If so, where did our vast oceans come...

Here’s what the Surface of the (2nd) Largest Asteroid Looks like

Vesta is the 2nd-largest Asteroid in the well known asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  525 Km in diameter, it is very big for an asteroid.  If it was much bigger we would call it a dwarf planet. The Dawn Spacecraft, launched in 2007, stopped by Vesta in 2011 and stuck with it until 2012 as it orbited the sun.  We are still seeing the results of that rendezvous, and just recently NASA released a complete map of the surface features of Vesta. It’s amazing to see so many interesting surface features on such a small world.  Geologic...