Monday, March 12, 2018

Jovian Twilight Zone

Jovian ‘Twilight Zone’

This image captures the swirling cloud formations around the south pole of Jupiter, looking up toward the equatorial region.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took the color-enhanced image during its eleventh close flyby of the gas giant planet on Feb. 7 at 7:11 a.m. PST (10:11 a.m. EST). At the time, the spacecraft was 74,896 miles (120,533 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds at 84.9 degrees south latitude.

Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt processed this image using data from the JunoCam imagerThis image was created by reprocessing raw JunoCam data using trajectory and pointing data from the spacecraft. This image is one in a series of images taken in an experiment to capture the best results for illuminated parts of Jupiter's polar region.

To make features more visible in Jupiter’s terminator — the region where day meets night — the Juno team adjusted JunoCam so that it would perform like a portrait photographer taking multiple photos at different exposures, hoping to capture one image with the intended light balance. For JunoCam to collect enough light to reveal features in Jupiter’s dark twilight zone, the much brighter illuminated day-side of Jupiter becomes overexposed with the higher exposure.

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at:

www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam          

More information about Juno is at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt

Image download options

Juno

Monday, November 27, 2017

Apollo 17 in 1972

In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead. This sharp image was taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed the valley floor. The image shows Schmitt on the left with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater, near the spot where geologist Schmitt discoveredorange lunar soil. The Apollo 17 crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than was returned from any of the other lunar landing sites. Forty five years later, Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk on the Moon.

Image Copyright: Image Credit: Apollo 17 Crew,NASA

Apollo

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka,

AlnitakAlnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left) along the diagonal in this cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie from800 to 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the darkHorsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower right. The famous OrionNebula itself is off the right edge of this colorful starfield. This well-framed, 2-panel telescopic mosaic spans about 4 degrees on the sky.

Image Credit & CopyrightMohammad Nouroozi

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Behold!! Observing Sun

A broad hole in the corona was the Sun's dominant feature November 7-9, 2017, as shown in this image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The hole is easily recognizable as the dark expanse across the top of the Sun and extending down in each side. Coronal holes are magnetically open areas on the Sun that allow high-speed solar wind to gush out into space. They always appear darker in extreme ultraviolet. This one was likely the source of bright aurora that shimmered for numerous observers, with some reaching down even to Nebraska.

Image Credit:NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tending Your Garden .. In Space


If you plant it, will it grow (in space)? The answer is yes, at least for certain types of plants. The Vegetable Production System, or Veggie, was first deployed in 2013 and is capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew aboard the International Space Station with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food. Veggie provides lighting and nutrient delivery, but utilizes the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of carbon dioxide to promote growth. This image of a red lettuce plant was taken for the VEG-03 experiment in the Columbus Module by the Expedition 53 crew.

The Interstellar Asteroid "Oumuamua"


Nothing like it has ever been seen before. The unusual space rock 'Oumuamua is so intriguing mainly because it is the first asteroid ever detected from outside our Solar System -- although likely many more are to follow given modern computer-driven sky monitoring. Therefore humanity's telescopes -- of nearly every variety -- have put 'Oumuamua into their observing schedule to help better understand this unusual interstellar visitor. Pictured is an artist's illustration of what 'Oumuamua might look like up close. 'Oumuamua is also intriguing, however, because it has unexpected parallels to Rama, a famous fictional interstellar spaceship created by the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Like Rama, 'Oumuamua is unusually elongated, should be made of strong material to avoid breaking apart, is only passing through our Solar System, and passed unusually close to the Sun for something gravitationally unbound. Unlike a visiting spaceship, though, 'Oumuamua's trajectory, speed, color, and evenprobability of detection are consistent with it forming naturally around a normal star many millions of years ago, being expelled after gravitationally encountering a normal planet, and subsequently orbiting in our Galaxy alone. Even given 'Oumuamua's likely conventional origin, perhaps humanity can hold hope that one day we will have the technology to engineer 'Oumuamua -- or another Solar System interloper -- into an interstellar Rama of our own.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Pleiades Deep and Dusty

The well-known Pleiades star cluster is slowly destroying part of a passing cloud of gas and dust. The Pleiades is the brightest open cluster of stars on Earth's sky and can be seen from almost any northerly location with the unaided eye. The passing young dust cloud is thought to be part of Gould's Belt, an unusual ring of young star formation surrounding the Sun in the local Milky Way Galaxy. Over the past 100,000 years, part of Gould's Belt is by chance moving right through the older Pleiades and is causing a strong reaction between stars and dust. Pressure from the stars' light significantly repels the dust in the surrounding bluereflection nebula, with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly. A short-term result is that parts of the dust cloud have become filamentary and stratified. The featured deep image also captured Comet C/2015 ER61(PanSTARRS) on the lower left.

Image Credit & Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado(TWANEarth & Stars), Miquel Serra-Ricart & Daniel Padron, FECYT