Behold, direct images of an exoplanet. The Very Large Telescope in Chile took these photos of a Jupiter-sized planet in orbit around AF Leporis, a star 87.5 light-years away that is about as massive and as hot as the Sun. The telescope used an instrument fitted with a coronagraph, which blocked the star’s light (the black circle with the classic star symbol) to observe the planet, which is at about the same distance from the star as Saturn is from the Sun. This is the least massive exoplanet the telescope has imaged thus far. Image credit: ESO/Mesa, De Rosa et al.
China’s Zhurong Mars rover appears to be facing challenges. Images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that the rover has not moved since at least September 2022. Zhurong was expected to autonomously resume activities around December after a planned hibernation during the Martian winter. The Chinese government has not provided any public updates about the state of the mission.
The European Space Agency is planning an in-space asteroid hunting mission. The proposed mission, called NEOMIR, would send a spacecraft to a stable orbit between the Earth and the Sun, allowing it to spot asteroids coming from the direction of the Sun. Details of the mission are currently being fleshed out, with a 2030 target launch date.
A NASA safety panel has raised concerns about Artemis. The annual report from the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel stated a concern that “NASA’s concerted attention to a healthy safety culture may have diminished, leaving NASA vulnerable to the same flaws that contributed to previous failures.” The panel also pointed out that the “irregular cadence” of Artemis missions and the changing nature of each mission could lead to challenges, essentially making every new mission a test mission.