NASA Solar System Exploration


NASA's Planetary Science Division. Our robots & scientists explore our solar system, from the Sun to beyond Pluto.
What's Up for December: The most reliable meteors of the year will soon be here, and if you'd like to add "asteroid observer" to your list of accomplishments, try your hand at observing Vesta with binoculars or a small telescope. See more at: #NASA #space #science #skywatching #stargazing #planets #Moon
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6 days ago
On Nov. 1, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft flew by not just its first asteroid, but its first two. The first images returned by Lucy reveal that the small main belt asteroid Dinkinesh is actually a binary pair. Video credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center #NASA #space #science #LucyMission #asteroids
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10 days ago
What message would you put in a time capsule for future generations? Muskogee (Creek) Nation member and U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo sent these words into space, aboard a plaque on our #LucyMission . #nativeamericanheritagemonth Remember the earth whose skin you are: red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth, brown earth, we are earth. Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families, their histories, too. Remember you are all people and all people are you. Remember you are this universe and this universe is you. Remember.
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11 days ago
How did life on Earth arise? Scientific analysis has begun on the asteroid sample delivered by the #OSIRISREx spacecraft in September. The @NASAGoddard Astrobiology Analytical Lab just received its first piece of the 4.5-billion-year-old material. The team is looking for amino acids and nucleobases, which, if found, would add more evidence to the theory that asteroids like Bennu provided the fundamental building blocks of life to Earth. ¼ of the sample will be distributed to institutions across the globe, while ¾ will remain preserved at @NASA_Johnson for future generations. #space #science #nasa #osirisrex #ToBennuAndBack #astrobiology #asteroids #life
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24 days ago
Did you know that you can sign your name on @NASA ’s Europa Clipper spacecraft? See how JPL technicians in the Microdevices Laboratory will use an electron beam to stencil names onto microchips that will be attached to a metal plate on the exterior of the spacecraft that will travel 1.8 billion miles (2.8 billion km) to Jupiter’s icy moon. The Europa Clipper mission aims to determine whether Europa has conditions that could support life. Once spacecraft assembly has been completed at JPL, the orbiter will be shipped to @NASAKennedy in Florida in preparation for launch in October 2024. But time is running out to add your name to the spacecraft: Visit the link in our bio to #SendYourName , too! #NASA #JPL #EuropaClipper #Europa #Spacecraft #IcyMoon #Exploration #Oceans #Microdevices #Microchips #MessageInABottle
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26 days ago
Europa Clipper is on the move! The spacecraft relocated last weekend from High Bay 1 to a testing location on lab as it prepares for launch next year. Swipe to watch the move! ➡️ #NASA #JPL #Spacecraft #Jupiter #Europa #EuropaClipper #Engineering 📸 Image Descriptions Image 1: A view of the spacecraft moving through lab to its new location. It sits on the back of a semi truck and is housed inside a gigantic box that is wrapped in a glistening silver cover. Several team members and a forklift follow behind the semi truck which is being escorted by a JPL golf cart. The escort is stopped waiting on a deer to cross the road. Yes, a deer. 🦌 Image 2: The spacecraft has arrived outside of its new location and slowly disappears into a large white building that looks similar to a large warehouse or movie studio. Image 3: Inside Europa Clipper's new testing location, several JPL team members are dressed in head to toe white protective suits, or bunny suits as we call them here at JPL. The spacecraft has arrived and is still in its gigantic box that is wrapped in a glistening silver cover. The team members are waiting for the spacecraft to be fully moved into the new space. Image 4: The spacecraft has made it to its new location and several team members, dressed in white head-to-toe protective suits, start to help unbox it. The shiny silver cover has been removed and one side panel from the box revealing the spacecraft inside. Image 5: A different angle of the spacecraft inside it's new location. Several team members help to push the spacecraft to a different area inside the testing facility. Image 6: The spacecraft is fully unboxed as several team members help guide the spacecraft to its stand where it will be anchored in for testing.
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29 days ago
“I would have never expected a system that looks like this... This is going to be fun for the scientific community to figure out.” - Lucy Principal Investigator Hal Levison 🧩 Well Lucy, you’ve surprised us again. The Lucy Mission has given us a new solar system puzzle to solve. After downlinking more images from the #LucyMission’s flyby of asteroid Dinkinesh, the team discovered that the asteroid's satellite, already unexpected, is actually made of two objects – called a contact binary. This is the first time we’ve seen a contact binary orbiting another asteroid, and it raises new questions about how satellites and contact binaries form. Image Description: A diamond-shaped asteroid taking up about a third of the height of the image is on the left-hand side. It's lit from the left. At the very right of the image, two small rocks are next to each other. There's a black line in between them which is a shadow from the left-hand rock.
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1 month ago
What's Up for November? See Venus and Jupiter on opposite sides of the sky; the Leonid meteors return; and check out the celestial "sea" surrounding Saturn. More at #NASA #space #science #nature #stargazing #skywatching #planets #Moon
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1 month ago
Oh Dinkinesh, you are marvelous. 💫⁣ ⁣ On Nov. 1, our #LucyMission flew by the first of 10 asteroids in its planned 12-year mission. And it turns out that asteroid Dinkinesh is actually a party of two. ⁣ ⁣ This is why we explore. These images were captured while zooming by Dinkinesh at 10,000 mph (4.5 km/s) from 270 miles away (430 km) and reveal that the main belt asteroid, originally estimated to be one half-mile-wide asteroid, is made up of two asteroids of different sizes. From a preliminary analysis of these first images, the team estimates that the larger body is about 0.5 miles (790 m) at its widest, while the smaller is about 0.15 miles (220 m) in size.⁣ ⁣ Dinkinesh, meaning “you are marvelous,” is the Amharic name for Lucy, the ancient hominid discovered in Ethiopia for which our spacecraft is named. Dinkinesh truly lived up to its name.⁣ ⁣ The flyby was a test of Lucy’s terminal tracking systems, which Lucy passed with flying colors. The team will use the data from this encounter to prepare for the next close-up look at an asteroid, the main belt asteroid Donaldjohanson, in 2025. ⁣ ⁣ Image descriptions:⁣ 1) Two asteroids against black space. The larger is a diamond-shaped gray dusty rock lit from the right. The smaller, mostly spherical rock is visible behind the larger’s lower right edge.⁣ ⁣ 2) An animation of several images taken 13 seconds apart depicting the smaller asteroid passing from left to right behind the larger, spinning asteroid. The apparent motion of the two asteroids is due to the motion of the spacecraft as it flew past at 10,000 mph (4.5 km/s).⁣ ⁣ Credit:NASA/Goddard/SwRI/Johns Hopkins APL/ASU⁣ ⁣ #NASA #Space #Asteroids #Asteroid #Discovery #Lucy #Spacecraft #SpaceRocks
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When Halloween happens during Asteroid Autumn...🍂💀 This radar image shows asteroid 2015 TB145, a dead comet. The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico captured this view in 2015, with a resolution of 25 feet (7.5 meters) per pixel. Scientists have determined that the celestial object is more than likely a dead comet that has shed its volatiles (substances that readily evaporate, such as ice) after numerous passes around the Sun. Asteroid 2015 TB145 safely flew by our planet at just under 1.3 lunar distances, or about 302,000 miles (486,000 kilometers), on Halloween in 2015. #NASA #space #asteroid #halloween Image description: a grainy, black-and-white image of a cratered asteroid against the darkness of space resembles a human skull floating in the void
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Why is the outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, 2 million °F hotter than the Sun's surface? Almost 1,000 undergraduate researchers used data from the NASA MinXSS and NOAA/NASA GOES satellites to investigate this coronal heating problem – one of the great mysteries of heliophysics. You can read about their findings here:
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1 month ago
Boo! Just in time for Halloween, our Juno spacecraft captured this view of Jupiter's swirling clouds during its 54th close flyby of the giant planet. Spend some face time with Jupiter at Juno captured this view of an area in the giant planet’s far northern regions called Jet N7 on Sept. 7, 2023. The image shows turbulent clouds and storms along Jupiter’s terminator, the dividing line between the day and night sides of the planet. The low angle of sunlight highlights the complex topography of features in this region, which scientists have studied to better understand the processes playing out in Jupiter’s atmosphere. As often occurs in views from Juno, Jupiter’s clouds in this picture lend themselves to pareidolia, the effect that causes observers to perceive faces or other patterns in largely random patterns. Citizen scientist Vladimir Tarasov made this image using raw data from the JunoCam instrument. At the time the raw image was taken, the Juno spacecraft was about 4,800 miles (about 7,700 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. - - - Image description: The swirling clouds of Jupiter appear to form a frowning human face. Half of the image is in darkness on the planet's night side, almost making the face appear as if it's peering out from behind a door. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS⁣ ⁣ Image processing by Vladimir Tarasov © CC BY⁣ #space #science #nature #Jupiter #JunoMission #JunoCam #halloween
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1 month ago