NASA’s DART mission has given asteroid Dimorphos a new tail, an intergalactic shockwave is revealed and Europa’s icy scars come into focus. These are some of this week’s top photos.
Asteroid Dimorphos has a new tail
Two days after NASA slammed a spacecraft into asteroid Dimorphos, a telescope in Chile captured the sight of its new tail of debris. The space agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) struck the small moon of a larger asteroid on Sept. 26 to assess how a kinetic impact might alter the rock’s path in space, with implications for how humans might save themselves in the event that a doomsday asteroid is on a collision course with Earth in the future.
Footage of the impact’s aftermath is crucial to determining the success of the strike. But it’s also incredible footage to admire. This view comes from the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope, at the National Science Foundation-funded NOIRLab’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Researchers estimate that Dimorphos’ new tail extends thousands of miles.
Methane gas leak in the Baltic Sea
Satellites caught gas bubbling up from beneath the surface of the Baltic Sea. Damaged Nord Stream pipelines are releasing hundreds of tons of climate-warming methane into the atmosphere. Four ruptures have spewed methane gas since Sept. 26. Several countries believe the damage is geopolitical sabotage, and they suspect Russia did it as revenge against the sanctions it received following its invasion of Ukraine.
Scorching shockwave in galactic clash
This is a new view of Stephan’s Quintet, where four galaxies and a distant galaxy visually interlopes to create this chaotic scene. It was among the first objects that the James Webb Space Telescope viewed.
Now, another NASA spacecraft — the Chandra X-Ray Observatory — is illuminating new details about this same region of space. The result is a visible shock wave belt, seen in light blue. Here, gas is heated to tens of millions of degrees as the galaxies careen into one another.
Fort Myers after Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian devastated western Florida last week when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm. Severe flooding, produced by torrential rains and a storm surge, slammed communities like Fort Myers in Florida’s County Lee, along with 155-mile-per-hour (250 kilometer-per-hour) winds.
Satellites have taken images of the devastation. This one here from U.S. company Maxar Technologies shows a beach in Fort Myers in the wake of the hurricane.
Icy scars on Europa
In these two side-by-side images of Europa’s surface, the viewer can see a comparison between minimally and heavily processed images from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Jupiter and its moons — including Europa — have been Juno’s target since the probe arrived at the gas giant in July 2016.
The enhanced color contrast on the right makes surface features stand out. The image data from Juno’s JunoCam beamed back to NASA team members on Earth after the spacecraft performed its closest flyby of Europa, on Sept. 29.
Europa gets a psychedelic treatment in a new image from Juno’s close flyby
An image of Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa taken during a recent flyby by NASA’s Juno probe received a psychedelic treatment revealing the mysterious world in unexpected colors.
The picture was taken by Juno’s JunoCam camera during the pass on Sept. 29 and was processed by citizen scientist Fernando Garcia Navarro. Navarro’s unorthodox treatment lent the rather plain white and brownish moon a psychedelic look, creating a bridge between science and art. – Tereza Pultarova
Europe’s delayed Ariane 6 rocket completes upper stage test
The European rocket-maker ArianeGroup has successfully tested the upper stage of its new, delayed, heavy-lift rocket Ariane 6.
The upper-stage, which can be repeatedly ignited, completed its first hot-fire test at a rocket research laboratory in Lampoldshausen, Germany, on Wednesday (Oct. 5). During the test, engineers simulated conditions the stage will experience in flight. The upper stage, responsible for injecting customer payloads into correct orbits, is the part of the rocket that operates for the longest time. Further tests have to be performed before the rocket can get a green light for its debut flight, which was originally scheduled for 2020. – Tereza Pultarova
Falcon 9 clears launch pad with Crew-5 atop
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon Crew Endurance capsule atop is clearing the launch pad in this photo taken during Crew-5’s launch to the International Space Station.
The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:00pm EDT (1600 GMT) on Wednesday (Oct. 5). The capsule will take NASA astronauts John Cassada and Nicole Mann, Japan’s Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos’ cosmonaut Anna Kikina to the International Space Station. Kikina is the first Russian to fly to the International Space Station aboard the Dragon spacecraft. The capsule is expected to dock at the orbital outpost on Thursday (Oct. 6) at 4:57pm EDT (20:57 GMT). – Tereza Pultarova
Crew 5 prepares for launch to space station
Two NASA astronauts, a Japanese space farer and a Russian cosmonaut have practiced for their launch to the International Space Station today in a final dress rehearsal test.
The quartet makes up Crew 5, which will travel to the orbital outpost tomorrow aboard a SpaceX Dragon Crew capsule. NASA’s John Cassada and Nicole Mann will be joined by Koichi Wakata of Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency and Roscosmos’ cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Kikina is the first Russian to fly to the International Space Station aboard the Dragon spacecraft. The launch comes a day after reports of a Russian nuclear convoy seen heading toward the borders of the invaded Ukraine appeared in the news. The launch is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 12:00 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center. – Tereza Pultarova
DART’s death witness LICIACube snaps a photo of Earth with the moon
The tiny cubesat that traveled with NASA’s DART mission to the Didymos binary asteroid system to witness DART’s collision with the rock snapped a picture of Earth and the moon.
The picture, released by the LICIACube team on Twitter on Sunday (Oct. 2), was taken just before DART smashed into the asteroid Dimorphos on Monday (Sept. 26).
LICIACube’s purpose was to witness DART’s encounter with the 525-foot-wide (160 meters) asteroid moonlet Dimorphos and inspect the aftermath of the experiment, which marked the first ever attempt to alter the orbit of a celestial body. Dimorphos orbits a larger, 2,560-foot-wide (780 m) rock called Didymos, and it was the orbit of the moonlet around the parent asteroid that the DART mission intended to change. Astronomers are now observing the system to determine whether DART succeeded. The technique might one day be used to deflect a stray rock on a collision course with Earth. – Tereza Pultarova