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NASA’s InSight Captures New Images on Mars

More images from InSight's arm were scheduled to come down this past weekend. However, imaging was momentarily interrupted, resuming the following day

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

After the successful touchdown of NASA’s InSight on Mars last week, new images from the lander show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting.

With a reach of nearly 6 feet (2 metres), the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander’s deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia, the lava plain where InSight touched down on November 26.

But first, the arm will use its Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its elbow, to take photos of the terrain in front of the lander, the space agency said in a statement on Thursday.

These images will help mission team members determine where to set InSight’s seismometer and heat flow probe — the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet, it added.

“Today we can see the first glimpses of our workspace,” said Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

NASA, tissue
NASA. Flcikr

“By early next week, we’ll be imaging it in finer detail and creating a full mosaic.”

Another camera, called the Instrument Context Camera, is located under the lander’s deck. It will also offer views of the workspace, though the view won’t be as pretty.

“We had a protective cover on the Instrument Context Camera, but somehow dust still managed to get onto the lens,” said JPL’s Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager.

“While this is unfortunate, it will not affect the role of the camera, which is to take images of the area in front of the lander where our instruments will eventually be placed.”

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Over the past week and a half, mission engineers have been testing those instruments and spacecraft systems, ensuring they were in working order.

More images from InSight’s arm were scheduled to come down this past weekend. However, imaging was momentarily interrupted, resuming the following day.

Spacecraft engineers had already factored extra time into their estimates for instrument deployment to account for likely delays caused by faults. The mission’s primary mission is scheduled for two Earth years, or one Mars year. (IANS)

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Incredible Full Moon Falls on 50th Anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11

The partial lunar eclipse will occur during the full moon beginning Tuesday night

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Full Moon, Anniversary, NASA
The moon is seen during a lunar eclipse known as the "Super Blood Wolf Moon," in Manaus, Brazil, Jan. 21, 2019. VOA

The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place this week, allowing stargazers from large swathes of the globe to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomena.

The partial lunar eclipse will occur during the full moon beginning Tuesday night, and will be visible in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The only region that will miss out on viewing the eclipse entirely is North America.

A lunar eclipse occurs when there is an alignment of the moon, the sun and the Earth. It can only happen during a full moon, because that is the only time the moon can be directly opposite of the sun in Earth’s sky.

The upcoming alignment will result in a partial lunar eclipse because the moon will be slightly askew from a direct line with Earth’s shadow.

Full Moon, Anniversary, NASA
The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place this week, allowing stargazers from large swathes of the globe to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomena. Pixabay

This lunar eclipse will come two weeks after a total eclipse of the sun was visible over South America. This follows a typical astronomical pattern of lunar eclipses occurring within two weeks of a solar eclipse.

The last lunar eclipse took place in January 2019 and was visible from both Americas as well as parts of Europe and Africa. The next lunar eclipse will not take place until next year, however all four eclipses in 2020 will only be penumbral eclipses, which are much weaker than partial or full eclipses.

During penumbral eclipses, the moon passes through the weakest shadow cast by Earth and often does not visibly darken to the naked eye.

There won’t be another total lunar eclipse until May 2021.

Also Read- India Aborts Launch of Spacecraft Intended to Land on Far Side of Moon

Apollo anniversary

Tuesday’s lunar eclipse will be seen by stargazers at different times around the globe. Viewers in South America will be the first to see Earth’s shadow touch the moon’s surface when the moon is rising in the sky around sunset July 16, while watchers in Asia and Australia will see the moon in eclipse as it sets around sunrise July 17.

Interestingly, this celestial event falls on the anniversary of another lunar happening: July 16 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 rocket launch, which first landed humans on the moon. (VOA)