www.jpl.nasa.gov

You don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to watch one of the sky’s most awesome shows: a solar eclipse. With just a few simple supplies, you can make a pinhole camera that allows you to view the event safely and easily. Before you get started, remember: You should never look at the Sun directly without equipment that’s specifically designed for solar viewing. Do not use standard binoculars or telescopes to watch the eclipse, as the light could severely damage your eyes. Sunglasses also do NOT count as protection when attempting to look directly at the Sun. Stay safe and still enjoy the Sun’s stellar show by creating your very own pinhole camera. It’s easy! 

See another pinhole camera tutorial at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera/

Watch this and other eclipse videos on our YouTube channel:  https://youtu.be/vWMf5rYDgpc?list=PL_8hVmWnP_O2oVpjXjd_5De4EalioxAUi

A pinhole camera is just one of many viewing options. Learn more at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety 

Music credit: Apple of My Eye by Frederik Wiedmann

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Solar System: 10 Things to Know This Week

Need some space? 

Here are 10 perspective-building images for your computer desktop and mobile device wallpaper. 

These are all real images, sent very recently by our planetary missions throughout the solar system. 

1. Our Sun

Warm up with this view from our Solar Dynamics Observatory showing active regions on the Sun in October 2017. They were observed in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that reveals plasma heated to over a million degrees. 

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2. Jupiter Up-Close

This series of enhanced-color images shows Jupiter up close and personal, as our Juno spacecraft performed its eighth flyby of the gas giant planet on Sept. 1, 2017. 

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3. Saturn’s and Its Rings

With this mosaic from Oct. 28, 2016, our Cassini spacecraft captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance. 

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4. Gale Crater on Mars

This look from our Curiosity Mars rover includes several geological layers in Gale crater to be examined by the mission, as well as the higher reaches of Mount Sharp beyond. The redder rocks of the foreground are part of the Murray formation. Pale gray rocks in the middle distance of the right half of the image are in the Clay Unit. A band between those terrains is “Vera Rubin Ridge,” where the rover is working currently. The view combines six images taken with the rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Jan. 24, 2017. 

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5. Sliver of Saturn

Cassini peers toward a sliver of Saturn’s sunlit atmosphere while the icy rings stretch across the foreground as a dark band on March 31, 2017. This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 7 degrees below the ring plane. 

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6. Dwarf Planet Ceres 

This image of the limb of dwarf planet Ceres shows a section of the northern hemisphere, as seen by our Dawn mission. Prominently featured is Occator Crater, home of Ceres’ intriguing “bright spots.” The latest research suggests that the bright material in this crater is comprised of salts left behind after a briny liquid emerged from below. 

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7. Martian Crater

This image from our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows a crater in the region with the most impressive known gully activity in Mars’ northern hemisphere. Gullies are active in the winter due to carbon dioxide frost, but northern winters are shorter and warmer than southern winters, so there is less frost and less gully activity. 

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8. Dynamic Storm on Jupiter

A dynamic storm at the southern edge of Jupiter’s northern polar region dominates this Jovian cloudscape, courtesy of Juno. This storm is a long-lived anticyclonic oval named North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. 

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9. Rings Beyond Saturn’s Sunlit Horizon 

This false-color view from the Cassini spacecraft gazes toward the rings beyond Saturn’s sunlit horizon. Along the limb (the planet’s edge) at left can be seen a thin, detached haze. 

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10. Saturn’s Ocean-Bearing Moon Enceladus

Saturn’s active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus sinks behind the giant planet in a farewell portrait from Cassini. This view of Enceladus was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back before its mission came to an end on Sept. 15, after nearly 20 years in space. 

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Applying Wallpaper:
1. Click on the screen resolution you would like to use.
2. Right-click on the image (control-click on a Mac) and select the option ‘Set the Background’ or 'Set as Wallpaper’ (or similar).

Places to look for more of our pictures include solarsystem.nasa.gov/galleries, images.nasa.gov and www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Almost every day, we receive a message from a spacecraft more than 10.6 billion miles (about 17 billion km) away.

At that unimaginable distance, it takes the radio signal almost 16 hours to arrive. The spacecraft is Voyager 2, which launched 40 years ago this month. It’s still operating, sending back dispatches from the dark reaches well beyond the orbit of Pluto. Even now, scientists are still actively exploring the outer boundaries of the solar system using Voyager 2, decades after its “Grand Tour” of the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune revealed their splendors like never before. This week, we recall 10 highlights from one of the most epic voyages in human history.

1. A Journey of 10 Billion Miles Begins With the First Step

Voyager 2 set out from Earth on Aug. 20, 1977. Even though it launched before its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, it carried the ‘2’ moniker because mission planners knew its trajectory would bring it to Jupiter after Voyager 1’s arrival there.

2. The Grand Tour

Voyager 2’s trajectory was special because it took advantage of a rare orbital alignment to fly by all four gas giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It was the first, and so far the only, spacecraft to carry out a close-up reconnaissance of Uranus and Neptune.

3. Not-So-Gentle Giant

Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter in April 1979, capturing striking images of the planet’s volcanic moon Io and its violent storms larger than the entire Earth.

4. Saturn’s Not the Only One

Jupiter has its own ring system, and Voyager 2 provided the first pictures.

5. An Ocean Under Ice

During its Jupiter encounter, Voyager 2 obtained close-up looks at Jupiter’s moon Europa, including linear cracks and other features which first led scientists to realize Europa probably hides a vast sea of liquid water beneath an icy shell, the first known world outside Earth that could have an ocean.

6. Ringworld, the Prequel

Voyager 2 zoomed through the Saturn system in August 1981. It saw hints of mysterious features that the Cassini mission would later reveal in stunning detail, including Enceladus, with its bright surface that suggested geologic activity, and Saturn’s intriguing hexagonal jet stream.

7. Swiftly by a Tilted Planet

In January 1984, Voyager offered humanity its first detailed look at the seventh planet, Uranus, the only one tilted on its side relative to the Sun. Voyager images revealed 11 new moons, including Juliet, Puck, Cressida, Rosalind and Ophelia. The moon Miranda presented a bizarre landscape that left scientists debating its origins for years. Voyager also captured views of the planet’s lacy rings, and found that it is the coldest in the solar system, at minus 353 degrees Fahrenheit (59 Kelvin).

8. In Neptune’s Blue Realm

After picking up a gravitational speed boost at each previous planetary encounter, by the time Voyager reached Neptune it shot through the entire system of Neptunian rings and moons in a matter of hours. Voyager saw a titanic storm in Neptune’s windy atmosphere, discovered new moons, and revealed active geysers erupting on Triton’s frigid surface.

9. Postcards From the Edge

Although their cameras are no longer functioning, other key scientific instruments on board both Voyager spacecraft are still collecting data. Voyager 1 is exploring the boundary between the Sun’s realm and interstellar space. Voyager 2 hasn’t traveled quite as far. In September 2007, it crossed the termination shock (where the speed of the solar wind of charged particles drops below the speed of sound) at a point about 84 Astronomical Units from the Sun (more than twice the distance to Pluto). See https://go.nasa.gov/2uwrndb

10. Ride Along

Voyager’s mission is far from over. Engineers estimate the spacecraft will have enough power to operate into the mid-2020s. You can ride along at www.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager, or by following @NASAVoyager on Twitter and by downloading our free 3-D space simulation software, Eyes on the Solar System at eyes.nasa.gov.

One more thing: Inspired by the messages of goodwill carried on Voyager’s Golden Record, you’re invited to send a short, uplifting message to Voyager and all that lies beyond it via social media. With input from the Voyager team and a public vote, one of these messages will be selected for us to beam into interstellar space on Sept. 5, 2017—the 40th anniversary of Voyager 1’s launch. Post your message on social media with the tag #MessageToVoyager by Aug 15. Details: www.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/message/

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Making every night science movie night with these amazing videos.

1. Pure Beauty 

Our star sprouting coronal loops courtesy of the NASA sun team. See the full video: https://go.nasa.gov/2p47Lt2

2. Where’s the last place you’d expect to find enough ice to bury a city? 

Answer: Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. Watch the video: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11184

3. The Mars Fleet 

Only Earth has more satellites studying it. Full video: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4414

4. A Star-Studded Cast

Check out NASA’s satellite fleet of Earth observers. See the video: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12586

5. Jupiter in Ultra HD 

Thanks, Hubble Space Telescope! See the video: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12021

6. A Tear Jerker 

Our Cassini spacecraft starts her 4.5-month Grand Finale this week. Full video: https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/resources/7628

7. Faster Than the Speed of Sound

Winds on Neptune travel faster than the speed of sound. Full video: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11349

8. A Musical Number

This one features the planet Uranus doing pop and lock. Full video: https://youtu.be/CWuWoiHmXUs

9. Up Close and Personal 

Thanks to our New Horizons mission, we’ve been able to get up close and with Pluto. Full video: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12080

10: The Treasure Trove

TRAPPIST-1 is a treasure trove of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a distant star. Full video: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/details.php?id=1459

Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.

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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Our Psyche mission to a metal world, which will explore a giant metal asteroid known as 16 Psyche, is getting a new, earlier launch date. Psyche is now expected to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in 2022, cruise through the solar system for 4.6 years, and arrive at the Psyche asteroid in 2026, four years earlier than planned. 

Below are 10 things to know about this mission to a completely new and unexplored type of world.

1. Psyche, Squared 

Psyche is the name of the NASA space mission and the name of the unique metal asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid was discovered in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis and named after the Greek mythological figure Psyche, whom Cupid fell in love with. “Psyche” in Greek also means “soul.”

2. Mission: Accepted

The Psyche Mission was selected for flight earlier this year under NASA’s Discovery Program. And it will take a village to pull off: The spacecraft is being built by Space Systems Loral in Palo Alto, California; the mission is led by Arizona State University; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be responsible for mission management, operations and navigation.

3. An Unusual Asteroid 

For the very first time, this mission will let us examine a world made not of rock and ice, but metal. Scientists think Psyche is comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core - which means Psyche could be an exposed core of an early planet as large as Mars.

4. Sweet 16 

Psyche the asteroid is officially known as 16 Psyche, since it was the 16th asteroid to be discovered. It lies within the asteroid belt, is irregularly shaped, about the size of Massachusetts, and is about three times farther away from the sun than Earth.

5. Discoveries Abound 

The Psyche mission will observe the asteroid for 20 months. Scientists hope to discover whether Psyche is the core of an early planet, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to Earth’s core, and what its surface is like. The mission will also help scientists understand how planets and other bodies separated into their layers including cores, mantles and crusts early in their histories. “Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the solar system and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core,” said Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University.

6. Think Fast 

The mission launch and arrival were moved up because Psyche’s mission design team were able to plot a more efficient trajectory that no longer calls for an Earth gravity assist, ultimately shortening the cruise time. The new trajectory also stays farther from the sun, reducing the amount of heat protection needed for the spacecraft, and will still include a Mars flyby in 2023.

7. Gadgets Galore

The Psyche spacecraft will be decked out with a multispectral imager, gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, magnetometer, and X-band gravity science investigation. More: https://sese.asu.edu/research/psyche

8. Stunning Solar Panels 

In order to support the new mission trajectory, the solar array system was redesigned from a four-panel array in a straight row on either side of the spacecraft to a more powerful five-panel x-shaped design, commonly used for missions requiring more capability. Much like a sports car, combining a relatively small spacecraft body with a very high-power solar array design means the Psyche spacecraft will be able to speed to its destination much faster. Check out this artist’s-concept illustration here: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/artists-concept-of-psyche-spacecraft-with-five-panel-array

9. See For Yourself

Watch the planned Psyche mission in action.

10. Even More Asteroids

Our missions to asteroids began with the orbiter NEAR of asteroid Eros, which arrived in 2000, and continues with Dawn, which orbited Vesta and is now in an extended mission at Ceres. The mission OSIRIS-REx, which launched on Sept. 8, 2016, is speeding toward a 2018 rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu, and will deliver a sample back to Earth in 2023. The Lucy mission is scheduled to launch in October 2021 and will explore six Jupiter Trojan asteroids. More: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6713

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week about the solar system HERE.

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Travel Posters of Fantastic Excursions

What would the future look like if people were regularly visiting to other planets and moons? These travel posters give a glimpse into that imaginative future. Take a look and choose your destination:

The Grand Tour

Our Voyager mission took advantage of a once-every-175-year alignment of the outer planets for a grand tour of the solar system. The twin spacecraft revealed details about Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – using each planet’s gravity to send them on to the next destination.

Mars

Our Mars Exploration Program seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be a habitable world. This poster imagines a future day when we have achieved our vision of human exploration of the Red Planet and takes a nostalgic look back at the great imagined milestones of Mars exploration that will someday be celebrated as “historic sites.”

Earth

There’s no place like home. Warm, wet and with an atmosphere that’s just right, Earth is the only place we know of with life – and lots of it. Our Earth science missions monitor our home planet and how it’s changing so it can continue to provide a safe haven as we reach deeper into the cosmos.

Venus

The rare science opportunity of planetary transits has long inspired bold voyages to exotic vantage points – journeys such as James Cook’s trek to the South Pacific to watch Venus and Mercury cross the face of the sun in 1769. Spacecraft now allow us the luxury to study these cosmic crossings at times of our choosing from unique locales across our solar system.

Ceres

Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to the sun. It is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, with an equatorial diameter of about 965 kilometers. After being studied with telescopes for more than two centuries, Ceres became the first dwarf planet to be explored by a spacecraft, when our Dawn probe arrived in orbit in March 2015. Dawn’s ongoing detailed observations are revealing intriguing insights into the nature of this mysterious world of ice and rock.

Jupiter

The Jovian cloudscape boasts the most spectacular light show in the solar system, with northern and southern lights to dazzle even the most jaded space traveler. Jupiter’s auroras are hundreds of times more powerful than Earth’s, and they form a glowing ring around each pole that’s bigger than our home planet. 

Enceladus

The discovery of Enceladus’ icy jets and their role in creating Saturn’s E-ring is one of the top findings of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Further Cassini discoveries revealed strong evidence of a global ocean and the first signs of potential hydrothermal activity beyond Earth – making this tiny Saturnian moon one of the leading locations in the search for possible life beyond Earth.

Titan

Frigid and alien, yet similar to our own planet billions of years ago, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan has a thick atmosphere, organic-rich chemistry and surface shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane. Our Cassini orbiter was designed to peer through Titan’s perpetual haze and unravel the mysteries of this planet-like moon.

Europa

Astonishing geology and the potential to host the conditions for simple life making Jupiter’s moon Europa a fascinating destination for future exploration. Beneath its icy surface, Europa is believed to conceal a global ocean of salty liquid water twice the volume of Earth’s oceans. Tugging and flexing from Jupiter’s gravity generates enough heat to keep the ocean from freezing.

You can download free poster size images of these thumbnails here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/

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