September 2022

Neptune, its rings and some of its moons as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope (Image NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI))

Images of Neptune captured by the James Webb Space Telescope show details of the planet and its rings with a clarity comparable only to those taken in 1989 by NASA’s Voyager 2 space probe during a planet flyby. The observations made it possible to capture details of many storms existing in Neptune’s atmosphere, including the Great Dark Spot. Webb also photographed Triton and six of the smaller moons.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after a little more than three hours reached the International Space Station with three new crew members on board. It docked with the Station’s Rassvet module. As is becoming increasingly common for crewed trips as well, the ultra-fast track was used which halves the journey duration.

Mars seen on the left in a NASA image based on data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) and on the right by the Webb Space Telescope's Near-Infrared Camera instrument (NIRCam) at two different infrared wavelengths

The first images of Mars captured by the James Webb Space Telescope on September 5, 2022, offer views of the planet at different infrared wavelengths and some spectroscopies. Webb is in a position where it can see part of the sunlit side of Mars and can provide images and spectra to help complete the detections of space probes, rovers, and other telescopes. The red planet is very close and very bright compared to the normal targets of Webb’s observations, so the exposures used were very short to avoid causing problems to the instruments.

The "Wildcat Ridge" outcrop on Mars (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance collected rock samples in an outcrop that was named “Wildcat Ridge” in the Jezero Crater on Mars. The analyzes show a geological variety that includes a mudstone that contains organic compounds. These results indicate that the rocks in that area are very different from those found on the crater floor, which were igneous rocks that form underground from volcanic magma and on the surface during volcanic activity. These are very interesting samples considering the mission in the design phase that will aim to bring them back to Earth to conduct in-depth analyzes.

The Orion Nebula's inner region seen by the James Webb Space Telescope (Image courtesy NASA, ESA, CSA, PDRs4All ERS Team; image processing Salomé Fuenmayor)

New images of the Orion Nebula’s inner region captured by the James Webb Space Telescope show new details of a stellar nursery that has already been studied many over time but continues to reveal new objects every time a new instrument is used to study it. These observations were conducted as part of Webb’s Early Release Science (ERS) program and obtained on September 11, so at the moment, no scientific articles are available on the subject yet but in the future, we can expect an analysis of the collected data and some new discoveries about the processes of star and planet formation.