The panorama seen by the Mars Rover Opportunity on the top of Cape Tribulation (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

NASA released an image of the Martian landscape seen from the Mars Rover Opportunity on the occasion of the earth’s eleventh anniversary of its arrival on Mars. Opportunity landed at 5:05 UTC on January 25, 2004 and now has traveled for about 41.7 km (25.9 miles) on the red planet. About three weeks ago it reached the top of the segment of the Endeavour Crater called Cape Tribulation and from there it used its Pancam (panoramic camera) instrument to take a series of photographs that were combined together.

The NGTS dome during the day. In the background the VLT and VISTA domes (Photo ESO/R. Wesson)

In recent days the NGTS (Next-Generation Transit Survey) has been put into operation. It’s a new instrument to search for exoplanets built to find super-Earths with a size starting from twice the Earth up to Neptune-like planets eight times the size of the Earth. It’s composed of an array of 12 telescopes with an aperture of 20 cm each which is located at the ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The most promising exoplanet found with the Kepler Space Telescope with their size proportional to that of the Earth (Image NASA)

At the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society there was the announce of the identification of the 1000th exoplanet verified using observations of the Kepler space telescope. That’s become a routine but the interesting thing is that among the verified planets there are eight that have a size less than twice the Earth and are in the habitable zone of their star.

ESA has declared the end of the Venus Express space probe’s mission. As of November 28, 2014, communications have become unstable and the mission control center lost control of the spacecraft. It was known that it was almost out of fuel but ESA hoped that there was still some increase the altitude of Venus Express to allow it to extend its mission for some more days. Now it’s expected to fall in the atmosphere of the planet Venus, where it will be destroyed by its enormous pressure and its high temperatures corrosive compounds.