China shares photos from the far side of the moon, space images show how the world is mobilizing to combat the spread of coronavirus and NASA's Curiosity Mars rover snaps a new selfie from the Red Planet. These are just some of the top photos this week on Space.com.
Lunar far side
After a year on the moon, China's Chang'e 4 lander, its Yutu 2 rover and their science payloads are in good operating condition. This image, released March 2020, shows the tracks of the Yutu 2 rover on the lunar far side. The Chang'e 4 mission recently began its 16th lunar day of work with Yutu 2 searching for new areas on the lunar far side to explore.
The latest test version of SpaceX's Starship spacecraft, called the SN3, has been stacked at SpaceX's South Texas facilities, new photos tweeted out by company founder and CEO Elon Musk show. One of the new pictures is this shot, which Elon Musk shared on Thursday (March 26). Musk didn't provide much in the way of context, writing simply "SN3." Starship is the SpaceX project to bring humans to Mars.
Expedition 62 wear mission shirts
The three-member Expedition 62 crew — Oleg Skripochka, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan — pose together wearing their mission patch t-shirts at the International Space Station, on Feb. 7, 2020. The official Expedition 62 insignia includes the astronauts' names and an astronaut holding a star alongside another carrying a leaf. — Christine Lunsford
Huoshenshan Hospital site (before)
These images show a look at China's Huoshenshan hospital before and after the outbreak. The first image, taken on Apr. 28, 2017 by Maxar's WorldView satellite, shows fields and forests full of trees on the site. The second image, taken on Feb. 22, 2020, shows the impact of China's outbreak, with a fully built hospital facility. — Christine Lunsford
Curiosity snaps a selfie on Mars
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity snapped this selfie after drilling a hole at a rock feature called "Hutton" and making its way up to the Greenheugh Pediment, the rocky mound seen here behind the rover and to the left. This panorama combines 86 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on Curiosity's robotic arm on Feb. 26, the 2,687th Martian day, or "sol," of the rover's mission on the Red Planet. You can see an annotated version of this image here.
Comet Atlas blazes through the night sky
Comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas is slowly brightening in the night sky as it gets ready to swing around the sun in a couple months. Astrophotographer Mike Cuffe captured these two images of the green comet through his backyard telescope on Monday (March 23). In the first stacked image, the comet appears a bit blurry as it moves across a fixed background of stars. For the second image, the telescope was fixed on the comet, so the background stars appear as short trails behind a sharper image of the comet. Comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on May 23, about one week before it reaches perihelion, or its closest point to the sun. It will brighten dramatically during this approach, and it may become visible to the naked eye in late April or May.
VLT's Laser Guide Star
The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) beams its laser guide star into the night sky over Chile, creating a beam of light that arcs above the Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers use giant laser beams like these to help their telescopes correct for the distortion caused by turbulence in Earth's atmosphere, which can make stars appear to twinkle. For observations at the VLT, astronomers rely on the Laser Guide Star Facility at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Pictured in the foreground are four domes of the SPECULOOS Southern Observatory.
Orion and the USS John P. Murtha
NASA's Orion crew capsule floats behind the USS John P. Murtha in the Pacific Ocean after the landing and recovery crews from the Exploration Ground Systems team at the agency's Kennedy Space Center performed their first full mission profile test of recovery procedures for the Artemis 1 mission, on March 13. Scheduled to launch in the second half of 2021, the Artemis 1 mission will mark the first uncrewed test flight of NASA's Space Launch System megarocket and Orion spacecraft. After landing, air bags on top of the spacecraft will ensure that the capsule floats upright.
Atlas V rocket stands ready for launch
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket stands ready for launch on Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket successfully launched the U.S. Space Force's sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite, or AEHF-6 on Thursday (March 26) at 4:18 p.m. EDT (2018 GMT). It was the first national security mission for the Space Force, and this Atlas V will be the first rocket to launch bearing the Space Force's new logo.