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The SPIDER project started in the 2000s. It was made to map the thermal afterglow of the Big Bang. A giant helium balloon that carried SPIDER 115,000 feet above Antarctica, it landed in a remote region there. Most of the data was stored on hard drives on SPIDER, which had to be recovered from the landing site. This photo is of SPIDER in January before it launched.
RoboSimian is an ape-like robot with four limbs that it uses to move around. It was designed in the JPL and will compete in the DARPA robotics competition this year.
This is a still from a movie NASA made about the progression of its NEOWISE survey during the mission’s first year which started in December 2013. Green dots represent near-Earth objects and gray circles are all other asteroids. In that year, NEOWISE discovered 40 near-Earth objects.
Soil Moisture Active Passive
The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will show global maps of soil so that we can see water availability on planet Earth, which will hopefully help guide policy decisions. It’s a three-year mission that launched in January 2015.
The Mars rover took a pretty solid selfie back in January, showing off the drilling sites on the planet. “Pahrump Hills” is where the rover has been working for five months. This photo was assembled from many different selfies the rover took.
This is an artist’s rendering of the Dawn spacecraft headed toward dwarf planet Ceres. It’s scheduled to arrive on March 6. Ceres is located on the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn is the first spacecraft to reach a dwarf planet and orbit two worlds in deep space, according to NASA.
Five new missions
In the past year, NASA has added five satellite missions. The missions orbit Earth and give researchers a new look at carbon dioxide levels, precipitation, ocean winds, and particles in the atmosphere.
Mars rover marathon
The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is fast approaching a marathon-length distance of traveling on the planet, as of February 2015. The green spot shows how much farther it has to travel to get to 26.2 miles.
The Spitzer space telescope shows, using infrared light, where star deaths and births are taking place in the 12 billion-year-old galaxy NGC 1291. The outer ring has new stars, and the dust glows to show where they’re heating up. The blue stars have shorter wavelengths and are older.
Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
This series of images shows the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array of colliding galaxies in Arp 299. According to NASA, the center panel shows X-ray data overlaid on an image from the Hubble telescope, and “the panel on the left shows the NuSTAR data, and the visible-light image is on the far right.”