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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Celebrate with us as our Opportunity rover turns 13, view art from our fans and more!

1. All Grown Up

After exceeding her 90-day mission and design parameters many times over, our plucky little rover Opportunity turns 13 years old on the Red Planet. She’s officially a teenager!

2. People’s Space

The public contributes so much wonderful art that we decided to make a place to share it. Enjoy!

3. Ready for a Close Up

Our Juno spacecraft recently got a closer look at Jupiter’s Little Red Spot. The craft’s JunoCam imager snapped this shot of Jupiter’s northern latitudes on December 2016, as the spacecraft performed a close flyby of the gas giant. The spacecraft was at an altitude of 10,300 miles above Jupiter’s cloud tops.

4. A New Test for Life on Other Planets 

A simple chemistry method could vastly enhance how scientists search for signs of life on other planets. The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components. It was designed specifically to analyze for amino acids, the structural building blocks of all life on Earth.

5. Blurring the Line Between Asteroid and Comet  

Our NEOWISE mission recently discovered some celestial objects traveling through our neighborhood, including one on the blurry line between asteroid and comet. An object called 2016 WF9 was detected by the NEOWISE project in November 2016 and it’s in an orbit that takes it on a scenic tour of our solar system. A different object, discovered by NEOWISE a month earlier, is more clearly a comet, releasing dust as it nears the sun.

Discover the full list of 10 things to know about our solar system this week HERE.

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