Mars Orbiter and Comet Siding Spring


This afternoon, Comet C/2013 A1 (AKA Comet Siding Spring) will pass within about 140,000 km of Mars. That’s less than half the distance between Earth and the Moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. Siding Spring’s nucleus will come closest to Mars around 18:27 UTC (2:27 pm ET) moving at around 56 km/s.

Video Credit: NASA

IRIS


NASA’s newest sun-watcher is the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph. It was launched last year to track how energy and heat move through a little understood region of the sun called the interface region which is sandwiched between the solar surface and its outer atmosphere or corona. The interface region is where the cooler temperatures of the sun’s surface transition to the hotter temperatures above. All the energy to power the sun’s output must make its way through this region. This movie shows succeeding images from IRIS of the same area of the sun in different wavelengths. Each image carries information about how fast the solar material is moving, which has shown scientists that a series of loops are twisting in the sun’s lower atmosphere.

Video: NASA

Venus Close Up


Video Credit: ESA

Lutetia


Lutetia (Rosetta)Lutetia is a large main-belt asteroid about 100 kilometers in diameter (120 km along its major axis). It’s named after Lutetia, the Latin name of the city that stood where Paris now stands. Lutetia has an irregular shape and is heavily cratered. The largest impact crater is around 45 km in diameter. It has a high average density, meaning that it is made of metal-rich rock.

This picture was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft when it passed within 3,162 km  of the asteroid in July, 2010. Lutetia was the largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft until the Dawn spacecraft arrived at Vesta a year later.

Image Credit: ESA

NGC 4206


A dusty spiral in VirgoNGC 4206 is about 70 million light-years away. It was imaged as part of a Hubble survey of nearby edge-on spiral galaxies made to measure the effect that the material between the stars, called the interstellar medium, has on the light that travels through it. Astronomers have been able to map the absorption and scattering of light by the material which causes objects to appear redder to distant observers.

Image Credit:  ESA / NASA
Acknowledgement: Nick Rose