In 1st, NASA prepares to fly helicopter on Mars
NASA is getting ready for yet another historic flight: A 4-pound helicopter is being prepared to fly on Mars. During a news briefing on Tuesday, NASA officials and engineers talked about preparations for the upcoming maiden voyage of the small helicopter, named Ingenuity. AdSee: Part of Wright brothers’ 1st airplane on NASA’s Mars chopperNASA is hoping to fly the small Ingenuity on April 8. NASA’s successfully landed its Mars Rover Perseverance on Feb. 18 this year near an ancient river delta in the Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient microscopic life. AdMore: Check out these new photos from Mars Rover ‘Perseverance’Related: Dream realized: Rochester Hills native named NASA flight director
NASA space probe spots northern lights on Jupiter
If you thought the northern lights were a rare sight for us earthlings, you may want to think again. Those beautiful colors most visible in the Arctic and Antarctic are not only found on Earth: Jupiter has northern lights, too. Northern lights here on Earth result from charged particles from the sun that interact with the earth’s magnetosphere to create that glow that we see. AdPrevious missions did not really provide a good look at the Jovian aurorae, but Juno is a polar-orbiting spacecraft, so these images are our first real deep dive into the planet’s northern lights. New revelations on Jupiter, combined with those recently discovered on Mars, have made for an interesting year of space exploration so far!
You can now enjoy free U-M planetarium shows from your living room
ANN ARBOR – Its perhaps one of the silver linings of so much isolation -- fun events streaming straight into your home. The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is now offering free virtual planetarium programs for the whole family. Starting on Thursday, go to the edge of the solar system, learn about planets and constellations with this fun, educational event. To register, click here. Virtual planetarium show schedule (Thursdays at 4 p.m.):Feb. 25March 4March 11March 18March 25More dates may be added in the future.
‘Christmas Star’ set to light up night sky on winter solstice
DETROIT – If the weather cooperates, something very special will be visible on the winter solstice this Monday night -- the “Star of Bethlehem,” also known as the “Christmas Star.”Despite the names, it’s actually not a star at all. Since Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years and Saturn orbits the sun every 30 years, the two largest planets in the solar system don’t line up very often. The two gas giants will cross paths in the night sky on the winter solstice on Monday, Dec. 21. Though the planets are 450 million miles apart, to the naked eye, they will appear as one bright light in the sky. To view the Christmas Star, turn your gaze toward the southwest sky a little after sunset on Monday, Dec. 21.
NASA rovers capture stunning Mars in 4K images
NASA has released 4K images from its Martian rovers. It truly is a stunning new way to see the surface of the Red Planet, even though it’s not video. NASA has an explanation for the lack of video:“Although the cameras are high quality, the rate at which the rovers can send data back to earth is the biggest challenge. Curiosity can only send data directly back to earth at 32 kilo-bits per second. Instead, when the rover can connect to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get more favourable speeds of 2 Megabytes per second,” reads the statement from NASA.
Heres how you can see Comet NEOWISE
Heres a nice shot of Comet NEOWISE, shot this past weekend by Mike Thompson in White Lake, Mich. Keep in mind that this is a fifteen second exposure -- its not what youd see with the naked eye:Comet NEOWISE (Mike Thompson)Comet NEOWISE is not what we scientists call a Great Comet. In other words, its not so bright that it can be seen prominently in the sky with the naked eye. Until now, to see Comet NEOWISE you had to get up at 5 a.m. And I know a LOT of people who will never get up at 5 a.m. Not even for a comet. However, I have good news: Over the next week, NEOWISE will transition to an evening object! And if you miss Comet NEOWISE this time, dont worry -- itll be back in 8,000 to 9,000 years. Comet 67P (NASA)
2nd interstellar visitor to our solar system confirmed
It first was spotted on Aug. 30, almost two years after the first interstellar visitor detected in our solar system, known as 'Oumuamua, was found in October 2017. Interstellar means that the object originated outside our solar system. After this initial observation, the Scout system at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory also flagged the object as possibly originating outside our solar system. It's due to enter the inner part of our solar system on Oct. 26. "The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated outside our solar system but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space."