SpaceX CRS-10 Dragon Landing: View 2 | International Space Station

SpaceX CRS-10 Dragon Landing: View 2 | International Space Station
The SpaceX Dragon is the only commercial spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS). Dragon landed a few hundred miles west of Baja California on March 19th. It has returned with approximately 3,600 pounds of space station cargo, ending its 10th operational cargo flight to the complex.

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Credit: SpaceX
Image Date: March 19, 2017

Elon Musk
NASA Johnson Space Center


Intrepid Crater on Mars

Intrepid Crater on Mars

On 2010, the robotic rover Opportunity chanced across a small crater on Mars. Pictured below is Intrepid Crater, a 20-meter across impact basin slightly larger than Nereus Crater that Opportunity chanced across 2009.

This image is in approximately true color but horizontally compressed to accommodate a wide angle panorama.

Intrepid crater on Mars carries the name of the lunar module of NASA’s Apollo 12 mission, which landed on Earth’s moon Nov. 19, 1969.
Apollo 12’s lunar module Intrepid carried astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad to the surface of Earth’s moon while crewmate Dick Gordon orbited overhead in the mission’s command and service module, Yankee Clipper.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded this view of the crater during the 2,417th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Nov. 11, 2010).

Beyond Intrepid Crater and past long patches of rusty Martian desert lie peaks from the rim of large Endeavour Crater, visible on the horizon.

Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA

Further reading and references

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8 Real World Enceladus Science Facts | NASA JPL

8 Real World Enceladus Science Facts | NASA JPL
Note: Click on the image and select the “More” option at the top of the screen and then choose “Download Photo” to better view this high-res infographic.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sampled the ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, today Wednesday, Oct. 28, after it flew through the moon’s plume of icy spray.

Cassini launched in 1997 and entered orbit around Saturn in 2004. Since then, it has been studying the huge planet, its rings and its magnetic field. Here are some things to know about the mission’s close flyby of Enceladus:

— Enceladus is an icy moon of Saturn. Early in its mission, Cassini discovered Enceladus has remarkable geologic activity, including a towering plume of ice, water vapor and organic molecules spraying from its south polar region. Cassini later determined the moon has a global ocean and likely hydrothermal activity, meaning it could have the ingredients needed to support simple life.

— The flyby is Cassini’s deepest-ever dive through the Enceladus plume, which is thought to come from the ocean below. The spacecraft has flown closer to the surface of Enceladus before, but never this low directly through the active plume.

— The flyby is not intended to detect life, but it will provide powerful new insights about how habitable the ocean environment is within Enceladus.

— Cassini scientists are hopeful the flyby will provide insights about how much hydrothermal activity—that is, chemistry involving rock and hot water—is occurring within Enceladus. This activity could have important implications for the potential habitability of the ocean for simple forms of life. The critical measurement for these questions is the detection of molecular hydrogen by the spacecraft.

— Scientists also expect to better understand the chemistry of the plume as a result of the flyby. The low altitude of the encounter is, in part, intended to afford Cassini greater sensitivity to heavier, more massive molecules, including organics, than the spacecraft has observed during previous, higher-altitude passes through the plume.

— The flyby will help solve the mystery of whether the plume is composed of column-like, individual jets, or sinuous, icy curtain eruptions—or a combination of both. The answer would make clearer how material is getting to the surface from the ocean below.

— Researchers are not sure how much icy material the plumes are actually spraying into space. The amount of activity has major implications for how long Enceladus might have been active.

Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
European Space Agency, ESA 
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