Science & Faith, JWST

“To the limits of our knowledge as humans, we’ve analysed and tested just about everything we could. You put the greatest minds on it, you have a plan, and then you’ve just got to have faith and believe it’s going to work.”

Engineer Michael Kaplan, who kicked off the planning of the James Webb Space Telescope in the 1990s, gives insight into how the wildly ambitious project came to be — and what comes next. (The Times of Israel | 19 min read)

The first picture of Aurora

The first picture of Aurora 📷

130 years ago the German astronomer Martin Brendel made the first-ever picture of the polar lights. Together with his colleague, german geographer Otto Baschin, on January 1, 1892, he arrived at Alta fjord near Bossekop in northern Norway to study the Northern Lights and conduct magnetic field measurements. Brendel began photographing the aurora the next day, and his first extant photograph (the first ever) was taken on January 5, 1892.

Look how photos of the aurora borealis have changed over time @StarWalk

Perseverance landing on Mars 02-18-2021

An image of Perseverance taken by a rocket-powered ‘sky crane’ as it lowered the rover onto Mars’s dusty surface on 18 February.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Humanity has just been given a front-row seat to a Mars landing, thanks to a high-resolution, full-colour video that NASA released of its Perseverance rover descending into Jezero Crater on 18 February.

The video shows the drama of the spacecraft’s final descent, from the 21.5-metre-wide parachute billowing overhead to slow it down, to the dusty orange landscape of Jezero gently rocking below as Perseverance drifted downwards, to the final moments when the rover’s six corrugated wheels touched down on a flat, rock-studded surface.

This image, taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows where Perseverance’s landing gear struck Jezero Crater, relative to the rover. The ‘descent stage’ is the component that set the rover down in the final sky crane manoeuvre.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Since it landed, the Perseverance rover has captured many images of its Mars surroundings and beamed them back to Earth. This panorama was stitched together from six of those individual images.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

South African springhare

The South African springhare (Pedetes capensis) fluoresces hot pink under ultraviolet light, researchers reported in February. The animals join wombats and platypuses in an expanding glow-in-the-dark gang. But the springhare’s striking patterning and intense colour are unique among known biofluorescent mammals, say researchers — and the glow’s function remains a mystery.

Photo credit: (J. Martin and E. Olson, Northland College/Olson et al. 2021, Scientific Reports)