The Enterprise space shuttle inspired a new wristwatch, aviation pioneer Wally Funk celebrates her first trip into space and the team behind the first high-definition photo of a black hole gets new imagery of a supermassive black hole's jet. These are some of the top photos this week from Space.com.
This image from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a region on Mars called Cerberus Fossae. It is full of steep slopes with active landslides, according to a NASA image description. The light bluish boulders on Cerberus Fossae's slope appear to originate near the top, by a layer of bedrock.
NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars lander is designed to measure the movement of the planet's interior. Since reaching the Red Planet in November 2018, InSight has detected "marsquakes" and other tectonic activity. The two largest quakes detected by InSight appear to have originated from Cerberus Fossae.
Wally Funk returns from space
Aviation pioneer Wally Funk, 82, greets a crowd after launching on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket on Tuesday (July 20). "I've been waiting a long time to finally get up there," Funk said during the postflight briefing. In the 1960s, Funk and her Mercury 13 colleagues trained for spaceflight alongside the Mercury 7, but the Mercury 13 were not allowed to fly into space due to the sexism of the time. Mercury 7 included John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, and Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
Tuesday's 10-minute jaunt into space was the first crewed flight of the suborbital New Shepard rocket and capsule. The spacecraft took off from Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas with three other crew members, including billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Gigantic jet shoots out from supermassive black hole
This is one of several new images of a powerful jet ejected from a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Centaurus A galaxy. In 1949, Centaurus A was identified as the first known source of radio waves outside of the Milky Way, and it is one of the brightest objects in the sky when observed at radio wavelengths.
The new images were produced by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), the project behind the iconic first high-resolution image of a black hole in April 2019. The technology behind EHT allows the jet to be viewed with a ten times higher accuracy and with sixteen times sharper resolution than was previously possible. This type of clarity allows astronomers to observe how a gigantic jet is launched from a supermassive black hole.
Pirs module on the ISS
The Russian Pirs module, seen here, has been attached to the International Space Station since 2001 and is scheduled to be de-orbited on Saturday (July 24). Initially, Pirs was scheduled to leave the ISS on Friday (July 23). However, its replacement module experienced a few issues during its trip to the ISS which prompted officials from Russia's space agency Roscosmos to change plans.
Once Pirs is detached from the ISS, it will partially burn in the atmosphere. Pieces from it will land in the Pacific Ocean about four hours after its departure from the space station, according to Russian news agency TASS. Pirs will be replaced by Nauka, the largest space laboratory Russia has ever launched.
Wristwatch inspired by Enterprise space shuttle
This wristwatch from luxury Swiss watchmaker Urwerk is an homage to NASA's Enterprise space shuttle. The UR-100V P.02 wristwatch was unveiled on Tuesday (July 20) and is a collaboration with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, which displays the retired Enterprise.
The look of this wristwatch is inspired by the flight deck of the 40-year old space shuttle. It is limited to just 20 pieces and part of the proceeds will be donated to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for the shuttle's ongoing display.
Astrophotographer captures Nauka in orbit as ground teams battle to fix its engines
British astrophotographer Martin Lewis captured Russia's Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka in orbit a few hours after its launch to the International Space Station.
Lewis, who posts his images on the website Skyinspector.co.uk, took the photo shortly after 10 pm BST on Wednesday (July 21) from his back garden in St. Albans, some 20 miles (35 kilometers) north of London, using his home-built 222mm Dobsonian telescope. — Tereza Pultarova
Chandra images the brightest known pulsar
NASA’s X-ray space telescope Chandra has obtained new images of the brightest pulsar in the sky. The M82 X-2 pulsar, a fast spinning neutron star, is located in the galaxy Messier 82 some 12 million light-years from Earth. M82 X-2’s brightness varies but at its brightest it can be more than 10 times brighter than any other known pulsars of this type, NASA said on Twitter.
The pulsar, which defies some of the physical limits for pulsar brightness, rotates around its axis very fast, completing one rotation every 1.37 seconds. Being extremely dense, the pulsar draws to itself matter, which generates the X-ray light detected by Chandra. — Tereza Pultarova
Blue Origin crew having fun in microgravity
The first crew to get to the edge of space on board Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is enjoying their moments in microgravity during the historic flight.
82-year-old aviator Wally Funk is floating inside the capsule while Jeff Bezos’ brother Mark and Dutch space tourist Oliver Daemen play with ping pong balls. Funk, who was refused her chance to fly to space in the 1960s because of her gender, became the oldest person ever to fly to space, fulfilling a life-long dream. 18-year-old Daemen, Blue Origin’s first paying customer, is, on the other hand, the youngest man to have flown to space. — Tereza Pultarova
Hubble back at work after computer recovery snaps bizarre galaxies
The Hubble Space Telescope has returned to work after recovering from a computer anomaly with new snaps of odd galaxies hundreds of millions lightyears away.
The image on the left is the first ever high resolution picture of ARP-MADORE2115-273, a pair of interacting galaxies some 297 million light-years away from Earth, which can be seen in the southern sky. The image, released on Monday (July 19), shows an intricate interaction with a rich network of stars and gas. The image on the right shows the large spiral galaxy ARP-MADORE0002-503 some 490 million light-years away. The galaxy’s long spiral arms, three times longer than those of the Milky Way, have a radius of 163,000 lightyears. On the other hand, ARP-MADORE0002-503 has only three spiral arms, while most spiral galaxies tend to have an even number of arms. — Tereza Pultarova
Boeing's astronaut space taxi readies for unmanned test flight
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi has been mated to the Atlas V rocket, which will launch it for its second unmanned test flight to the International Space Station later this month.
Over the weekend, engineering teams moved the capsule from the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the United Launch Alliance's Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station some 10 miles (16 kilometers) away. The rocket and the capsule, which is expected to soon join SpaceX's Dragon in ferrying astronauts to and from the space station, are now fully integrated, Boeing said in a statement. Engineers will now test whether the rocket and the capsule properly communicate with each other ahead of the launch, which is scheduled for July 30. — Tereza Pultarova