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SPOW: Crescent Ceres, SpaceX landing and Toronto from space


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Saturday, April 18, 2015, 2:13 PM - Watch dwarf planet Ceres rotate in crescent, a rocket landing near-miss, and see contrasting views of Toronto from the International Space Station. It's Science Pictures of the Week!

The Crescent of Ceres Spins in Space

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been pulling a wide 'U-Turn' in space over the past month or so, to reach a close orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. On April 10, from just 33,000 kilometres away, the spacecraft snapped a sequence of images of the northern crescent of Ceres - the only part of the dwarf planet that illuminated from Dawn's perspective - which are shown in the animation below:


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The amazing part is that with Ceres' 'day' being only a little over 9 hours long, we get to see plenty of detail rotate into view during the animation.

According to NASA:

Ceres, with an average diameter of about 590 miles (950 kilometers), is the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn has been using its ion propulsion system to maneuver to its first science orbit at Ceres, which it will reach on April 23. The spacecraft will remain at a distance of 8,400 miles (13,500 kilometers) from the dwarf planet until May 9. Afterward, it will make its way to lower orbits.

SpaceX's Spectacular Landing Attempt, in Vibrant Colour

A short Vine video came out on Tuesday from SpaceX, revealing the moments leading up to the 'touchdown' of their Falcon 9 reusable rocket from that afternoon, but it left out an important sequence of details.... specifically the actual moment of touchdown and what happened after. Fortunately, they released a full video of the attempt shortly thereafter, in high-resolution and full vibrant colour, so that we wouldn't miss any of the details.

To reflect the feelings of nearly everyone who watched this... SO CLOSE!!


RELATED: What's Up In Space? Watch SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket moments before all goes wrong


Contrasting Views of Toronto, from the International Space Station

NASA astronaut Terry Virts, who is the current commander of the International Space Station, would appear to be something of a baseball fan.

According to NASA

Though his view isn't very close to the action, NASA astronaut Terry Virts may have the best seat in all of baseball. Orbiting some 250 miles above Earth, the life-long baseball fan hopes to photograph all 28 cities with a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium. His challenge to you? Look at his pictures from space and guess the cities.
Each time Virts photographs a new MLB city, he'll post the pictures to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. You can follow along and guess the cities using the hashtag #ISSPlayBall.“I grew up in Baltimore in the ‘70s and ‘80s as an Orioles fan and I started a lifelong love of baseball and the O’s. It was my favorite sport that I played as a kid, and I played through high school,” said Virts.


Follow Commander Virts on his Twitter account (@AstroTerry) to find more of the MLB stadiums and other great images he delivers from his vantage point in space!

Sources: NASA JPL | SpaceX | NASA

RELATED VIDEO: Missed any of SpaceX's amazing Falcon 9 rocket launches? Catch up on them all in this one video!

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