“Of all celestial bodies within reach or view, as far as we can see, out to the edge, the most wonderful and marvelous and mysterious is turning out to be our own planet Earth.
January 02 | 2018
There is nothing to match it anywhere, not yet anyway.” —Lewis Thomas This image was taken by NavCam 1 on September 22, 2017, as our OSIRIS-REx—Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer—spacecraft completed an Earth gravity-assist maneuver—flying close enough to our planet to steal some momentum and speed up the craft on its way asteroid Bennu. This is the view from 69,000 miles away. The purpose of our OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is to map and return samples from asteroid Bennu, a carbon-rich hunk of rock that might contain organic materials or molecular precursors to life. NavCam images will track starfields and landmarks on Bennu to determine the spacecraft position during mission operations. Image Credit: NASA
Darker, cooler areas on the Sun – known as sunspots – have been absent for almost two weeks, as of Feb. 1.
February 06 | 2018
A single, tiny one appeared on Jan. 31, but even that is hard to see in this rotating view from our Solar Dynamics Observatory. The video shows a rotating sun in filtered light for the past week, but it is even hard to tell the sun is rotating since there are just about no features. This spotless period is a prelude to the approaching period of solar minimum next year, when the Sun’s activity will be at the low end of its 11-year cycle. Credit: NASA/SDO