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.

2023 April 6
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Terran 1 Burns Methalox
Image Credit: Relativity / John Kraus

Explanation: Relativity's Terran 1 Rocket is mostly 3D-printed. It burns a cryogenic rocket fuel composed of liquid methane and liquid oxygen (methalox). In this close-up of a Terran 1 launch on the night of March 22 from Cape Canaveral, icy chunks fall through the stunning frame as intense blue exhaust streams from its nine Aeon 1 engines. In a largely successful flight the inovative rocket achieved main engine cutoff and stage separation but fell short of orbit after an anomaly at the beginning of its second stage flight. Of course this Terran 1 rocket was never intended to travel to Mars. Still, the methane and liquid oxygen components of its methalox fuel can be made solely from materials found on the Red Planet. Methalox manufactured on Mars could be used as fuel for rockets returning to planet Earth.

Tomorrow's picture: Rigel wide

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