Space Probes

Artist’s concept of 2014 MU69 as a pair of asteroids (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker)

NASA has communicated the results of the observations of 2014 MU69, the object in the Kuiper Belt that represents the next target for the New Horizons space probe. The study of the observations made on July 17, 2017 when 2014 MU69 passed in front of a star suggests that it has the shape of an extreme prolate spheroid or that it’s actually two asteroids very close if not in contact.

Ancient volcanic deposits on the Moon (Image courtesy Milliken lab / Brown University)

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” describes a research that provides evidence of the existence of large amounts of water in ancient volcanic deposits on the Moon. Ralph E. Milliken and Shuai Li of Brown University used data collected by the Chandrayaan-1 space probe’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper Spectrometer to locate the water, perhaps formed after the collision between a planet and the primordial Earth that led to the Moon’s formation.

Libya Montes (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, , CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published images of the area of the planet Mars known as Libya Montes taken by its Mars Express space probe. It’s a mountain range near the Martian equator and is one of the oldest in Mars, altered by volcanic processes and impacts but also by processes associated with the existence of rivers. In the pictures it’s possible to identify various channels and valleys, traces of the ancient water streams.

Maps of Pluto and Charon (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/LPI)

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the New Horizons space probe’s Pluto flyby, NASA has published a map of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon. The American Space Agency has also created two videos that partially reproduce that flight concentrating one on Pluto and one on Charon. They provide a truly unique perspective, giving the impression of being on board a spaceship flying by those celestial bodies.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major)

Yesterday NASA started publishing the first raw photos of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot taken by the Juno space probe during its July 10 flyby. All the scientific instruments were active but JunoCam is the one that has obtained the most spectacular results with the pictures of the iconic storm larger than the Earth. From now on, many fans started processing the images by contributing to the NASA database.