The all-sky TESS mission will soon revolutionize our view of planets transiting the nearest, brightest stars to the Sun, just as the four-year survey by NASA’s Kepler mission transformed our understanding of exoplanet demographics. Using the repurposed Kepler spacecraft, the ongoing K2 mission provides a natural transition from Kepler to TESS in terms of sky coverage, survey duration, and intensity of ground-based follow-up observations. For the past three years I have led a large, multi-institutional team to discover, follow up, validate, and characterize hundreds of new candidates and planets using data from K2. I will highlight some of our key results from the first two years of K2 data, and will conclude with a discussion of the path forward to future exoplanet discovery and characterization.
SpaceX today successfully launched a communications satellite into orbit and also flew the first stage booster back down for a safe landing onto a floating platform at sea. This launch and landing are historic because the booster had flown once before (April 2016). This was the first time an orbital rocket booster had been re-flown.
Here is a video clip from the webcast showing video from the booster as it came down towards the sea. The video transmission dropped out briefly (the antenna on the platform is shaken by the plume of the rocket) but then the image comes of the rocket in the center of the ship:
Some words from Elon Musk about the successful mission:
At the time of closest approach (called perijove), Juno will be about 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops, traveling at a speed of about 129,000 miles per hour (57.8 kilometers per second) relative to the gas-giant planet. All of Juno’s eight science instruments will be on and collecting data during the flyby.
Some of the most dramatic Juno images of the solar system’s largest planet have come from private individuals who have downloaded raw images from the JunoCam and applied their own image processing recipies. The Juno mission in fact invites public to participate in such activities: JunoCam : Processing | Mission Juno
… do your own image processing, and we encourage you to upload your creations for us to enjoy and share. The types of image processing we’d love to see range from simply cropping an image to highlighting a particular atmospheric feature, as well as adding your own color enhancements, creating collages and adding advanced color reconstruction.
This enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter seems to reveal a Jovian “galaxy” of swirling storms.
Juno acquired this JunoCam image on Feb. 2, 2017, at 5:13 a.m. PDT (8:13 a.m. EDT), at an altitude of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above the giant planet’s cloud tops. This publicly selected target was simply titled “Dark Spot.” In ground-based images it was difficult to tell that it is a dark storm.
Citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko enhanced the color to bring out the rich detail in the storm and surrounding clouds. Just south of the dark storm is a bright, oval-shaped storm with high, bright, white clouds, reminiscent of a swirling galaxy. As a final touch, he rotated the image 90 degrees, turning the picture into a work of art.