March into the new month with these sky-gazing opportunities!
Looking up at night is more fun when you know what to look for. Learn about some of the night sky happenings throughout March:
- After a cosmic kiss, Jupiter and Venus will go their separate ways growing farther apart each night throughout the month.
- All throughout March, dwarf planet Ceres will be visible throughout the night and is at its brightest for the year. Find it using binoculars or a small telescope.
- The Moon will keep us on our toes, with a full moon on March 7 and a new moon on March 21. On March 23, the Moon will be a slim crescent after sunset, hanging just below a blazing bright Venus. On March 25, the crescent Moon sits beside the brilliant Pleiades star cluster.
Image description: A starry night lights up the sky above a wooded forest of evergreens dusted with snow.
Thumbnail credit: Bill Dunford
9 months ago
Does anything orbit the Moon?
Yes! A handful of satellites currently orbit the Moon, and on Nov. 13 they will welcome #CAPSTONE , a microwave oven-sized satellite designed to test a new and unique halo-shaped orbit to support long-term missions. NASA Small Satellites Engineer Ahn Nguyen tells us about it.
More on CAPSTONE: http://nasa.gov/capstone
1 year ago
Why does climate change matter? Because it's happening, and we're feeling its effects.
But there's hope. Dr. Kate Calvin, our senior @nasaclimatechange advisor and chief scientist, explains how we collect data and develop tech to help us better understand and prepare for a changing planet.
More on NASA's climate research: climate.nasa.gov
1 year ago
A lunar eclipse, the Moon and planets, and the Leonid meteors, oh my! We have lots to look up to this November:
Who’s down to gaze up? Tag your stargazing bestie in the comments. Here are the best times to spot some celestial bodies:
• November 8: Full moon and total lunar eclipse before sunrise
• November 11: The Moon appears directly between Mars and bright blue-white star Elnath in the west before sunrise
• November 20: In the hour before sunrise, find the crescent Moon above bright star Spica in the southeast
• November 18: Look directly overhead for Leonid meteors after midnight. The Moon is about 35% full, and will diminish the fainter meteors
• November 23: New moon
• November 28: The crescent Moon hangs beneath Saturn in the southwest after sunset
• All month: The Leonid meteor shower is active throughout November, and peaks between midnight and dawn on the 18th
So you want to slow down a spacecraft? Well, you’ve got two options–but coming soon, you might have a third. ☄
There are currently two methods for slowing down a spacecraft when landing; which option to choose (or if you use them together) depends primarily on how much atmosphere your landing site has.
The first option, retropropulsion, is best used when there is little to no atmosphere to help slow down a spacecraft. Retropropulsion is where you use thrusters pointed down at the surface of the planet to slow yourself down as you're coming in—like those used by the Apollo missions.
The second option, heat shields, is used if you do have an atmosphere, which makes slowing down much easier, as the atmosphere acts as a giant brake as you slow down. In this scenario, a heat-resistant shield is on the blunt end of your spacecraft as it travels through the atmosphere. Finally, once the heat shield has sufficiently slowed the spacecraft, parachutes are deployed to slow it down the rest of the way for a safe landing.
However, teams are working on a brand-new third method called Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD). Much like a traditional heat shield, HIAD can deploy to slow a spacecraft through the atmosphere, but unlike a traditional heat shield, it is fabricated out of a highly compactable flexible woven system instead of the bulky ceramics or metals of past missions. The result: improved heat shield results at a fraction of the space and weight.
Set to launch Nov. 1, 2022, with @NOAA ’s #JPSS2 mission, LOFTID will demonstrate this new heat shield's ability to slow down and survive atmospheric entry.
Producers: Scott Bednar, Jessica Wilde
Editor: Daniel Salazar
1 year ago
New month = new skywatching guide 👻
Make sure to bundle up, and find a safe, dark spot away from bright lights because October has a lot to offer in the night sky. Starting off, the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are visible throughout the night in October. Early in the evening, you'll find them to the southeast, moving slowly westward with the stars over the course of the night.
Looking to spot the full Moon? Our lunar companion will be in full illumination starting on Oct. 9 and will appear full for about three days. As the full moon after the Harvest Moon, this will be the Hunter's Moon, named that because historically during this period the harvesters have finished reaping the fields, allowing hunters easier sight of the animals that have come out to feed.
Next up, Mars has been steadily moving through the sky in an eastward fashion all year, but at the end of October, Mars halts this apparent motion and then appears to reverse course. From November to late January, Mars is in retrograde. About every two years, Mars appears to change its direction—an illusion caused by the motion of our planet in its orbit passing by the Red Planet in its orbit.
Lastly, look to the skies for a beautiful show throughout October and November as the Orionid meteor shower is active, peaking on the night of Oct. 20. Expect the shower to produce 10-20 meteors per hour at its peak, under clear, dark skies. This year, the Moon will be about 20% full on peak nights so it will interfere slightly but shouldn’t totally spoil the show—best of all, you can observe the meteor showers without any special equipment.
Image Description: An illustrated graphic, with Earth in the foreground with Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the background. Between the planets, the dark black visual of the night sky is tinted in hues of navy blue with speckles of stars throughout. In the center of the graphic text reads “What’s Up Skywatching Highlights October 2022”.
1 year ago
Mars is visible this month high in the southern sky moving eastward; it is best seen in the early morning before sunrise. Later in the month, Mars will appear to form a triangle in the sky with the stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse.
Jupiter is highly visible, as it is in opposition this month: on the 11th, you’ll see it hanging out with the Moon, making for a great viewing opportunity to observe them together through binoculars. Finally, Sept. 23 brings the equinox marking the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
You can read our full skywatching guide and see What’s Up in September at go.nasa.gov/whatsup
1 year ago
We are ready. We are going! 🚀
Artemis stands ready. Ready to turn dreams into reality. Ready to return humanity to the Moon, and take us farther than ever before. The culmination of inspiration and innovation of herculean efforts and steadfast collaboration—#Artemis I is ready for departure.
Monday, Aug. 29, the uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System with the Orion spacecraft stacked atop it will launch into space for a journey around the far side of the Moon and back. Along the way it will conduct revolutionary research that will lay the path ahead for future crewed Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually on to Mars.
Our live coverage of the Aug. 29 launch starting at 6:30 a.m. EDT (10:30 UTC). Watch on our Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and in 4K on YouTube accounts, as well as on nasa.gov/live and NASA TV.
Image Description: Artemis I on the launch pad at sunset. In the distance the white and orange livery of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft are visible upright at the launch pad. Attached to the rocket is a large metallic grey support structure. To the left and right of the rocket are two tall and thin lightning towers. In the foreground of the image the silhouette of shrubbery is visible dominating the lower third of the image. The background of the upper portion of the image is a picturesque Florida sunset, with puffy and wispy white clouds and a sky painted with cozy hues of orange, pink, and red.
Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
“When we first get word we have touched the top of the atmosphere, the vehicle has been alive – or dead – for at least seven minutes”
On the 10-year anniversary of Curiosity Mars rover landing on Mars, we relive the most terrifying moments of the mission – the descent to the Red Planet’s surface.
Team members at @NASAJPL share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover's final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars. With zero margin of error, engineers choreographed a descent that would bring the spacecraft from 13,000 miles per hour, to zero – with no help from mission control.
The SUV-size explorer confirmed that billions of years ago, Mars had the conditions needed to support microscopic life.
Since landing, Curiosity has driven nearly 18 miles (29 kilometers) and ascended 2,050 feet (625 meters) as it explores Gale Crater and the foothills of Mount Sharp within it. The rover has analyzed 41 rock and soil samples, relying on a suite of science instruments to learn what they reveal about Earth’s rocky sibling. And it’s pushed a team of engineers to devise ways to minimize wear and tear and keep the rover rolling: In fact, Curiosity’s mission was recently extended for another three (Earth) years, allowing it to continue among NASA’s fleet of important astrobiological missions.