Siccar Point on Mars

What created this unusual hill on Mars? No one is sure. A good outlook to survey the surrounding area, Siccar Point stands out from its surroundings in Gale Crater. The unusual mound was visited by the robotic Curiosity rover exploring Mars late last year. Siccar Point not only has a distinctive shape, it has dark rocks above lighter rocks. The apparent much younger age of the dark rocks indicates a time-break in the usual geological ordering of rock layers — by a process yet unknown. The Martian hill is named for Siccar Point on Earth, a place in Scotland itself distinctive as a junction between two different rock layers. Curiosity continues to explore Gale crater on Mars, looking for clues of ancient life. Simultaneously, 2300 kilometers away, its sister rover Perseverance explores Jezero crater, there assisted by the flight-capable scout Ingenuity. via NASA https://ift.tt/AWZzqjE

Jupiter from the Webb Space Telescope

This new view of Jupiter is illuminating. High-resolution infrared images of Jupiter from the new James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) reveal, for example, previously unknown differences between high-floating bright clouds — including the Great Red Spot — and low-lying dark clouds. Also clearly visible in the featured Webb image are Jupiter’s dust ring, bright auroras at the poles, and Jupiter’s moons Amalthea and Adrastea. Large volcanic moon Io’s magnetic funneling of charged particles onto Jupiter is also visible in the southern aurora. Some objects are so bright that light noticeably diffracts around Webb’s optics creating streaks. Webb, which orbits the Sun near the Earth, has a mirror over 6 meters across making it the largest astronomical telescope ever launched — with 15 times more light-collecting area than Hubble. via NASA https://ift.tt/2jJqXea

The Horsehead Nebula Region without Stars

The famous Horsehead Nebula in Orion is not alone. A deep exposure shows that the dark familiar shaped indentation, visible just right of center, is part of a vast complex of absorbing dust and glowing gas. The featured spectacular picture details an intricate tapestry of gaseous wisps and dust-laden filaments that were created and sculpted over eons by stellar winds and ancient supernovas. The Flame Nebula is visible in orange just to the Horsehead’s left. To highlight the dust and gas, most of the stars have been digitally removed, although a notable exception is Alnitak, just above the Flame Nebula, which is the rightmost star in Orion’s famous belt of three aligned stars. The Horsehead Nebula lies 1,500 light years distant towards the constellation of Orion. via NASA https://ift.tt/4UAmE7s

Perijove 11: Passing Jupiter

Here comes Jupiter! NASA’s robotic spacecraft Juno is continuing on its highly-elongated orbits around our Solar System’s largest planet. The featured video is from perijove 11 in early 2018, the eleventh time Juno has passed near Jupiter since it arrived in mid-2016. This time-lapse, color-enhanced movie covers about four hours and morphs between 36 JunoCam images. The video begins with Jupiter rising as Juno approaches from the north. As Juno reaches its closest view — from about 3,500 kilometers over Jupiter’s cloud tops — the spacecraft captures the great planet in tremendous detail. Juno passes light zones and dark belt of clouds that circle the planet, as well as numerous swirling circular storms, many of which are larger than hurricanes on Earth. After the perijove, Jupiter recedes into the distance, then displaying the unusual clouds that appear over Jupiter’s south. To get desired science data, Juno swoops so close to Jupiter that its instruments are exposed to very high levels of radiation. via NASA https://ift.tt/pt7EXLr