Skip to main content

Spot the space missions in NASA’s animated holiday card

NASA has shared an animated holiday card — with a twist.

It’s been an incredibly busy year for the space agency, and so to make the card a bit more fun, it’s populated the animation with many of the space missions that it’s currently working on.

See how many you can spot!

Season’s Greetings from NASA

Set in a suitably snowy landscape that could be anywhere from Lapland to some imaginary planet deep in the cosmos, NASA’s animated holiday card kicks off with an Artemis moon buggy that could be trundling across the lunar surface before the decade is out.

Next, we see the James Webb Space Telescope with its distinctive gold-plated mirror. Following numerous delays, the telescope is set to launch on Friday, December 24. Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built and is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA is hoping the telescope’s discoveries will help scientists to unlock some secrets of our solar system — and beyond — as it peers into deep space.

Keep your eyes peeled for the DART spacecraft as it scoots across the snow in rapid pursuit of a couple of large boulders — or asteroids. The DART mission, for those not in the know, is a recently launched effort by NASA to find out if it can alter the path of an asteroid by smashing into it. The DART mission’s target rock poses no threat to Earth, but if flying DART into it can alter the direction in which it’s traveling, the method will give us a way of protecting Earth from potentially catastrophic impacts in the future.

Following DART, we see NASA’s Mars rover, Perseverance, making its way across a landscape markedly different to the one on the red planet, with the Ingenuity helicopter — the first aircraft to perform controlled, powered flight on another planet — swooping in low over the rover.

Last but not least, NASA’s T-38 aircraft makes an appearance. This is surely a nod to the recent unveiling of NASA’s latest batch of astronaut candidates, all of whom will learn to fly the supersonic jet as part of their training.

NASA’s animated holiday card was produced by Mark Hailey, art director for NASA TV.

Editors' Recommendations

Japan’s space agency destroys own rocket just after launch
Japan's H3 rocket at the start of a failed mission in March 2023.

Proving that rocket launches aren’t as easy as SpaceX makes them look, Japanese space agency JAXA was forced to destroy one of its own rockets after it developed a fault in the early stages of flight on Tuesday, March 7.

Mission personnel had no choice but to send a self-destruct command to the new H3 rocket after the second-stage engine malfunctioned just minutes after launch.

Read more
Roman Space Telescope will survey the sky 1,000 times faster than Hubble
NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

Since its launch in 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope has been delighting space fans with its stunning views of space objects near and far. But NASA has another space telescope in the works that will be able to help answer even more of the big questions in astronomy. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, set to launch in 2027 and colloquially known as Roman, will look at vast areas of space to help cosmologists understand the universe on a large scale.

In astronomy research, it's important to be able to look both in very great detail and on a very wide scale. Telescopes like Hubble and James Webb have exceptional sensitivity, so they can look at extremely distant objects. Roman will be different, aiming to get a broad view of the sky. The image below illustrates the differences between the telescopes, showing what Roman and Hubble can capture in one go and comparing Hubble's detailed, but narrow view to Roman's much wider view.

Read more
NASA and SpaceX Crew-6 mission ready for launch tonight
From left, NASA astronauts Warren “Woody” Hoburg and Stephen Bowen, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a dress rehearsal for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission launch on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.

NASA and SpaceX are ready to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station, with preparations underway and launch scheduled for late tonight PT. The Crew-6 mission is set to launch at 1:45 a.m. ET on Monday, February 27 (10:45 p.m. PT on Sunday, February 26) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a SpaceX Cargo Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket.

In a press conference following a readiness review on Saturday, February 25, NASA officials said that the crew and hardware had been given the go-ahead. "We had a good launch readiness review and we're on track for the 27 launch," said Dana Weigel, deputy manager of the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This morning I had a chance to talk to the crew. They're doing great. Spirits are high and they are ready to go."

Read more