The Best Space Photos & Stories of the Week – Feb 3
The week of January 28 to February 3 was dominated by the super blue blood moon lunar eclipse, as well as a few things that SpaceX/Elon Musk did (like landing a rocket in the ocean without really trying and my girlfriend not letting me buy a flamethrower), but here are some of the best pictures and stories we found this week!
Astrophotographer Donna Chesler captured this unusual time-lapse image of what looks like a giant cotton swab looming over Mingus Mountain in Arizona’s Prescott National Forest in 2007. Chesler created this optical illusion by capturing a 3.5-hour-long exposure of the moon as it passed through Earth’s shadow in what’s known as a “blood moon” lunar eclipse.
The abandoned São Domingos mine in southern Portugal reflects the starlight from the Milky Way, the constellation Scorpius and the planet Saturn in this photo by astrophotographer Miguel Claro.
The Super Blue Blood Moon over the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California in a timelapse photo by NASA photographer Ken Ulbrich.
The atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan glows with colorful, hazy layers in this newly released image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. When Cassini acquired this view, it was approximately 20,556 miles (33,083 kilometers) from Titan, facing the night side of the moon’s north polar region. The spacecraft ended its mission by crashing into Saturn last September. (h/t Space.com)
The star-formation region Lupus 3, 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius, shows dazzlingly hot stars forming from collapsing gas and dust. This image comes from data gathered by the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope and the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope, both in Chile.
Amateur astronomer finds long-lost NASA satellite
The Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) satellite lost contact with NASA in 2005, but recently an amateur astronomer was able to make contact with the adrift spacecraft. NASA announced on Tuesday (Jan. 30) that a detected signal was analyzed by engineers at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and they found the signal came from the long-lost IMAGE satellite. [Full Story: Signal Detected by Amateur Astronomer Came from Long-Lost Satellite, NASA Confirms]
New students to learn from remains of shuttle disaster
Fifteen years after tragedy befell the space shuttle Columbia, a new generation of space professionals is learning from the debris left in its wake. Thousands of pieces have been collected, and will be used in NASA’s new Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program, or ACCLLP, to give lengthy seminars on the events that led to the loss of Columbia’s crew over the skies of Texas. [Full Story: Debris From Fallen Space Shuttle Columbia Has New Mission 15 Years After Tragedy]
Studying Europa got more complicated
Europa may have conditions that support life, so scientists are keen on landing a rover on this Jupiter moon to study its composition up-close. But a new study reveals that Europa may have a surface so porous — like freshly fallen snow — that a probe could likely sink through it. [Full Story: Jupiter Moon Europa’s Possibly Porous Surface Could Doom a Lander]
Happy 14th anniversary to Opportunity Mars rover
A marvelous robot currently trekking along the Martian surface has far outlasted its initial 90-day mission. This week, NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover celebrated its 14th anniversary on the Red Planet. Developed at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 24, 2004, a few weeks after its twin, Spirit. [Full Story: Opportunity Mars Rover Wheels Past 14 Years of Exploration]