A realtime animation of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Schiaparelli module entering and descending through the atmosphere to land on Mars. The animation starts when the lander enters the atmosphere at an altitude of 121 km at 14:42 GMT. In six minutes it will use a heatshield, parachute and thrusters to brake from 21,000 km/h to a near standstill 2 metres above the surface, where a crushable structure on its underside will absorb the final shock.
Some 3.9 billion years ago in the heart of a distant galaxy, the intense tidal pull of a monster black hole shredded a star that passed too close. After X-rays produced in this event first reached Earth on 28 March 2011, scientists concluded that the outburst, now known as Swift J1644+57, also represented the sudden flare-up of a previously inactive black hole.
Observers should direct their gaze to the southern sky at dusk on Saturday, 12 January to view the 6-day-old waxing Moon in the constellation of Pisces. Look a little closer around 6pm GMT in the UK this night to see Mars as a magnitude +0.6 orange-coloured ‘star’ above the lunar crescent. If you own wide-angle 7× or 8× binoculars, you can see the Moon and Red Planet in the same field of view.