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NASA camera captures far side of the moon

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Washington: From nearly 1.6 lakh km away, a NASA camera has captured a stunning view of the far side of the moon as it moved in front of the sun-lit side of Earth last month.

The images show the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.

The lunar far side lacks the large and dark basaltic plains (called maria) that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side.

A thin sliver of shadowed area of moon is visible on its right side.

“It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon. Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface,” said said Adam Szabo, project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite orbiting 1 million miles (1.6 lakh km) from Earth.

EPIC maintains a constant view of the fully-illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere.

The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images.

Back_side_of_the_Moon_AS16-3021
Since then, several NASA missions have imaged the lunar far side in great detail.

The same side of the moon always faces an earthbound observer because the moon is tidally locked to Earth.

That means its orbital period is the same as its rotation around its axis.

Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, NASA will post daily colour images of Earth to a dedicated public website.

About twice a year, the camera will capture the moon and Earth together as the orbit of DSCOVR crosses the orbital plane of the moon.
(IANS)

 

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars
NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars. Pixabay

After a mechanical problem took NASA Mars rover Curiosity’s drill offline in December 2016, it has now successfully tested a new drilling method on the Red Planet, making a 50-millimetre deep hole in a target called “Duluth”, NASA has said.

Engineers working with the Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them.

On May 20, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new technique, called Feed Extended Drilling, keeps the drill’s bit extended out past two stabiliser posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks.

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home.

“The team used tremendous ingenuity to devise a new drilling technique and implement it on another planet,” said Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steve Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Those are two vital inches of innovation from 60 million miles away. We’re thrilled that the result was so successful,” Lee said.

Drilling is a vitally important part of Curiosity’s capabilities to study Mars.

Inside the rover are two laboratories that are able to conduct chemical and mineralogical analyses of rock and soil samples.

The samples are acquired from Gale Crater, which the rover has been exploring since 2012.

“We’ve been developing this new drilling technique for over a year, but our job isn’t done once a sample has been collected on Mars,” said JPL’s Tom Green, a systems engineer who helped develop and test Curiosity’s new drilling method.

Also Read: NASA Probe to ‘Touch’ the Sun Will Carry 1.1 mn Names

“With each new test, we closely examine the data to look for improvements we can make and then head back to our test bed to iterate on the process.”

There’s also the next step to work on — delivering the rock sample from the drill bit to the two laboratories inside the rover.

As soon as this Friday, the Curiosity team will test a new process for delivering samples into the rover’s laboratories, NASA said. (IANS)

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