PLANETARY RESEARCH MILESTONES
|The Phoenix Mars Lander - The End of the Mission
Phoenix is the first lander to study the ice-rich soil of Mars' arctic regions. On May 25, 2008, the lander successfully touched down near the red planetís north polar ice cap. For more than three months, its robotic arm obtained samples for analysis, while its stereo color camera and weather station studied the polar climate.
The changing Martian seasons brought an end to the mission as shorter days failed to provide enough sunlight for the solar-powered lander to charge its batteries. Communications with the lander ceased on November 2, 2008.
Artist concept courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech/University of Arizona
|New Views of New Worlds
In November 2008, two science teams independently succeeded in acquiring the first direct images of planets circling other stars. The Hubble Space Telescope captured one of those images (left or top?), which shows a planet orbiting the star Formalhaut (arrow). One of the brightest stars in the sky, it is 25 light-years from Earth. A wide ring of debris (red) surrounds the star. The close-up (inset) shows the planetís position as photographed in 2004 and later in 2006. The other image (right or bottom?) is an artistís concept of the star and planet.
Hubble image courtesy of NASA, ESA, P. Kalas, J. Graham, E. Chiang, and E. Kite (University of CA, Berkeley), M. Clampin (NASA/GSFC), M. Fitzgerald (Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, CA), and K. Stapelfeldt and J. Krist (NASA/JPL). Artistís concept courtesy of ESA, NASA, and L. Calcada (ESO for STScl).
The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft captured this image of the lunar surface on November 15, 2008. India's first mission to the Moon, the spacecraft launched on October 22 and entered lunar orbit on November 12. Armed with 11 scientific instruments, Chandrayaan-1 will map the lunar terrain and its chemical components and minerals. It will also study the Moon's magnetic field, radiation environment, and atmosphere.
Image courtesy of Indian Space Research Organisation
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