The mission team for NASA’s InSight lander called off its attempts to try to dig deeper into Mars with the heat probe known as “the mole.” Meanwhile, the rest of the mission gained an extension to December 2022.
Here's the NASA's InSight lander's heat probe - nicknamed "the mole" - on October 3, 2020, when the spike-like mole was still trying to burrow into the red Martian soil. The copper-colored ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet's heat flow. Now NASA engineers have called a halt to this part of the mission. Image via NASA
FAST’s 500-meter (1,640-foot) dish makes it the world’s largest single-dish radio observatory. It’s expected to open to international observers in 2021.
Photo from January 11, 2020 showing the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in southwest China's Guizhou province. Image via Xinhua/ China.org.cn.
A waxing gibbous moon is in the sky when darkness falls. It lights up the early evening. It appears more than half lighted, but less than full.
Waxing gibbous moon about to set on the night of August 12-13. The golden color stems from the fact that - when we see a moon low in the sky - we're seeing it through a greater-than-usual amount of atmosphere. Photo by Peter Lowenstein
SpaceX launched 60 more of its Starlink satellites on January 20, 2021. SpaceX ultimately intends to launch tens of thousands of these satellites, to provide global internet access. Here’s why astronomers are concerned.
A batch of 60 Starlink test satellites stacked atop a Falcon 9 rocket, close to being placed in orbit, May 24, 2019. Image via SpaceX/ Wikimedia Commons
This final test of NASA’s SLS megarocket was needed to launch the first uncrewed mission in the Artemis program – Artemis 1 – by the end of 2021. Now the program’s schedule is uncertain.
The hot fire is the final test of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the moon. Image via NASA
Many saw Mars around last October, when Earth was passing between it and the sun. It was bright in our sky then and in the sky all night. What’s ahead for Mars in 2021?
View at EarthSky Community Photos
. | Abigail Atienza wrote: "I just want to share a photo of the waning gibbous moon
and the red planet Mars (on the right) with the northern lights in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. September 6, 2020, 9:20 p.m. Road to Nowhere." Thank you, Abigail!
See photos of rare lenticular clouds, sometimes called UFO clouds, and learn how they form.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Jill Phipps in Tucson, Arizona captured this image on January 18, 2021. She said: “These clouds caught my eye, as I was driving home last night. I had never seen anything like them. To me they looked like flying saucers, or stacks of pancakes.” Thanks for sharing your image with us, Jill!
The US Postal Service announced that they’ll be releasing a series of stamps highlighting images of the sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
View larger. | https://earthsky.org/upl/2021/01/us-postal-stamps-sun.png Image via NASA/ SDO/ USPS. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2021/the-us-postal-service-to-issue-nasa-sun-science-forever-stamps
The first quarter moon occurs halfway between new moon and full moon. One quarter of the moon is visible from Earth, meaning that you see half the daylit side of the moon.
View at EarthSky Community Photos
. | Composite image of a moon nearly at 1st quarter with some of the features you can see on the moon at this phase - captured April 30, 2020 - by our friend Dr Ski in the Philippines. He wrote: " ... 10 hours before 1st quarter and the Lunar V and Lunar X are well defined ... " More about Lunar V and X below. Thank you Dr Ski!