Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 26, 1998

Interplanetary Spacecraft Passes Earth
Credit & Copyright: P. Jenniskens (NASA /ARC/ Leonid98)

Explanation: Last Thursday an interplanetary spacecraft flew right past the Earth. The above images show sunlight momentarily reflected from this spacecraft's solar panels. No aliens were involved - the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission actually originated from Earth. Launched in 1996, NEAR zipped past the asteroid 253 Mathilde last June. This Earth flyby gravitationally deflects NEAR onto a trajectory passing the asteroid 433 Eros next year. Above, NEAR appears to move through the constellation of Perseus, as clouds created a changing diffuse white glow. NEAR was only visible for about 2 minutes from San Jose, California, where these image-intensified video camera observations were taken.

上週四,一艘行星際太空船掠過地球。 上面影像呈現了陽光從該太空船的太陽能電池板,瞬間反射出的景像。 這個事件與外星人無涉,因為近地小行星會合任務(NEAR)其實來自地球。 NEAR發射於1996年,並在去年6月飛越小行星253 Mathilde。 此次地球飛越讓NEAR產生重力協助偏轉,以進入明年飛越小行星433 Eros的軌道。 在上圖裡,NEAR看似過英仙座的同時,因為雲層形成了另一團不斷變化的瀰漫白光。 這些來自影像強化攝影機的影片定格,記錄於美國加州聖荷西市可見到NEAR太空船的2分鐘期間。

Tomorrow's picture: The Great Nebula in Orion

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.