Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander captured this stunning image of the backside of the Moon around the time of a rocket firing to brake into an initial lunar orbit. Beresheet is scheduled to attempt a landing on Mare Serenitatis 11 April, becoming the first privately funded, non-superpower spacecraft to soft land on the moon. Flight controllers plan to circularize the orbit at an altitude of about 224 miles before preparing the small ship for landing. During the descent to Mare Serenitatis, an instrument will measure magnetic field strength and the spacecraft’s camera system will send back panoramic views across the Moon’s cratered surface. Intended primarily to promote interest in STEM careers and to serve as an inspiration to students across Israel and around the world, Beresheet is only expected to operate for a few days after landing.
Observers in the British Isles and western Europe with a clear sky low to the east around 10pm local time on Wednesday, 27 January can see the rising 18-day-old waning gibbous Moon in a close conjunction with Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. Jupiter draws steadily closer to Earth and grows in apparent size over the coming weeks.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spied details on the pockmarked surface of Saturn’s moon Prometheus (86 kilometres, or 53 miles across) during a moderately close flyby on 6 December 2015. This is one of Cassini’s highest resolution views of Prometheus, a moon which orbits Saturn just interior to the narrow F ring, which is seen here at top.