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Apollo 17’s Moonship

Awkward and angular looking, Apollo 17’s lunar module Challenger was designed for flight in the near vacuum of space. Digitally enhanced and reprocessed, this picture taken from Apollo 17’s command module America shows Challenger’s ascent stage in lunar orbit. Small reaction control thrusters are at the sides of the moonship with the bell of the ascent rocket engine underneath. The hatch allowing access to the lunar surface is seen at the front, with a round radar antenna at the top. Mission…

Comet CG Evaporates

Where do comet tails come from? There are no obvious places on the nuclei of comets from which the jets that create comet tails emanate. One of the best images of emerging jets is shown in the featured picture, taken in 2015 by ESA’s robotic Rosetta spacecraft that orbited Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Comet CG) from 2014 to 2016. The picture shows plumes of gas and dust escaping numerous places from Comet CG‘s nucleus as it neared the Sun and heated up. The comet has two prominent lobes, the larger one…

The NGC 253 galaxy

NGC 253 is one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible, but also one of the dustiest. Dubbed the Silver Coin for its appearance in smalltelescopes, it is more formally known as the Sculptor Galaxy for its location within the boundaries of the southern constellation Sculptor. Discovered in 1783 by mathematician and astronomer Caroline Herschel, the dusty island universe lies a mere 10 million light-years away. About 70 thousand light-years across, NGC 253, pictured, is the…

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