Wednesday, November 30, 2016

W5: The Soul of Star Formation

Explanation: Where do stars form? Many times, stars form in energetic regions where gas and dark dust are pushed around in chaotic mayhem. Pictured, bright massive stars near the center of W5, the Soul Nebula, are exploding and emitting ionizing light and energetic winds. The outward-moving light and gas push away and evaporate much surrounding gas and dust, but leave pillars of gas behind dense protective knots. Inside these knots, though, stars also form. The featured image highlights the inner sanctum of W5, an arena spanning about 1,000 light years that is rich in star forming pillars. The Soul Nebula, also cataloged as IC 1848, lies about 6,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Queen of Aethopia (Cassiopeia). Likely, in few hundred million years, only a cluster of the resulting stars will remain. Then, these stars will drift apart.
Image Credit: José Jiménez Priego (Astromet)


Monday, November 28, 2016

Arb 240: A Bridge Between Spiral Galaxies from Hubble


Why is there a bridge between these two spiral galaxies? Made of gas and stars, the bridge provides strong evidence that these two immense star systems have passed close to each other and experienced violent tides induced by mutual gravity. Known together as Arp 240 but individually as NGC 5257 and NGC 5258, computer modelling and the ages of star clusters indicate that the two galaxies completed a first passage near each other only about 250 million years ago.Gravitational tides not only pulled away matter, they compress gas and so caused star formation in both galaxies and the unusual bridge. Galactic mergers are thought to be common, with Arp 240 representing a snapshot of a brief stage in this inevitable process. The Arp 240 pair are about 300 million light-years distant and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of Virgo. Repeated close passages should ultimately result in a merger and with the emergence of a single combined galaxy.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Space Telescope; Processing & Copyright: Chris Kotsiopoulos

Hubble Space Telescope

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Verona Rupes: Tallest Known Cliff in the Solar System

Could you survive a jump off the tallest cliff in the Solar System? Quite possibly.Verona Rupes on Uranus' moon Miranda is estimated to be 20 kilometers deep -- ten times the depth of the Earth's Grand Canyon. Given Miranda's low gravity, it would take about 12 minutes for a thrill-seeking adventurer to fall from the top, reaching the bottom at the speed of a racecar -- about 200 kilometers per hour. Even so, the fall might be survivable given proper airbag protection. The featured image of Verona Rupes was captured by the passing Voyager 2 robotic spacecraft in 1986. How the giant cliff was created remains unknown, but is possibly related to a large impact or tectonic surface motion.
Image Credit: Voyager 2, NASA

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Apollo 17 VIP Site Analglyph

Get out your red/blue glasses and check outthis stereo scene from Taurus-Littrow valley on the Moon! The color anaglyph features adetailed 3D view of Apollo 17's Lunar Rover in the foreground -- behind it lies the Lunar Module and distant lunar hills. Because the world was going to be able to watch the Lunar Module'sascent stage liftoff via the rover's TV camera, this parking place was also known as the VIP Site. In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead. The crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than from any of the other lunar landing sites. Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk (or drive) on the Moon.
Image Credit: Gene CernanApollo 17NASA; Anaglyph by Erik van Meijgaarden

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ring Scan

Scroll right and you can cruise along the icy rings of Saturn. This high resolution scan is a mosaic of images presented in natural color. The images were recorded in May 2007 over about 2.5 hours as the Cassini spacecraft passed above the unlit side of the rings. To help track your progress, major rings and gaps are labeled along with the distance from the center of the gas giant in kilometers. The alphabetical designation of Saturn's rings is historically based on their order ofdiscovery; rings A and B are the bright rings separated by the Cassini division. In order of increasing distance from Saturn, the seven main rings run D,C,B,A,F,G,E. (Faint, outer rings G and E are not imaged here.) Four days from now, on November 29, Cassini will make a close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan and use the large moon's gravity to nudge the spacecraft into a series of 20 daring, elliptical,ring-grazing orbits. Diving through the ring plane just 11,000 kilometers outside the F ring (far right) Cassini's first ring-graze will be on December 4.
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging TeamSSIJPLESANASA

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Prototype of Space Station's Advanced Plant Habitat

A high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), the largest plant chamber built for the agency, arrived at Kennedy Space Center the third week of November, 2016. The APH unit, containing small flowering plant seeds, will be delivered to the International Space Station in 2017.

Hubble Spies Spiral Galaxy

Spiral galaxy NGC 3274 is a relatively faint galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion).  This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image comes courtesy of Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), whose multi-color vision allows astronomers to study a wide range of targets, from nearby star formation to galaxies in the most remote regions of the cosmos.
This image combines observations gathered in five different filters, bringing together ultraviolet, visible and infrared light to show off NGC 3274 in all its glory.  NGC 3274 was discovered by Wilhelm Herschel in 1783. The galaxy PGC 213714 is also visible on the upper right of the frame, located much farther away from Earth.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Calzetti
Text Credit: ESA (European Space Agency)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

NGC 7635: Bubble in the Cosmic Sea

Do you see the bubble in the center? Seemingly adrift in a cosmic sea of starsand glowing gas, the delicate, floating apparition in this widefield view is cataloged as NGC 7635 - The Bubble Nebula. A mere 10 light-years wide, the tiny Bubble Nebula and the larger complex of interstellar gas and dust clouds are found about 11,000 light-years distant, straddling the boundary between the parental constellations Cepheus andCassiopeia. Also included in thebreathtaking vista is open star cluster M52 (upper left), some 5,000 light-years away. The featured image spans about two degrees on the sky corresponding to a width of about 375 light-years at the estimated distance of the Bubble Nebula.
Image Credit & Copyright: Sébastien Gozé

Pluto's Sputnik Planum - Is there a Ocean on Pluto

Is there an ocean below Sputnik Planum on Pluto? The unusually smooth 1000-km wide golden expanse, visible in the featured image from New Horizons, appears segmented into convection cells. But how was this region created? One hypothesis now holds the answer to be a great impact that stirred up anunderground ocean of salt water roughly 100-kilometers thick. The featured imageof Sputnik Planum, part of the larger heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio, was taken last July and shows true details in exaggerated colors. Although the robotic New Horizons spacecraft is off on a new adventure, continued computer-modeling of this surprising surface feature on Pluto is likely to lead to more refined speculations about what lies beneath.
Image Credit: NASAJohns Hopkins U./APLSouthwest Research Inst.

New Horizons

Linear Dunes, Nabib Sand Sea

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) used a long lens to document what crews have termed one of the most spectacular features of the planet: the dunes of the Namib Sand Sea.

Looking inland (from an ISS position over the South Atlantic) near sunset, the highest linear dunes show smaller linear dunes riding along their crests. Linear dunes are generally aligned parallel to the formative wind'”in this case, strong winds from the south. Southerly winds explain the parallel north-aligned linear dunes on the left side of the image.

But this simple pattern is disrupted near the Tsondab valley. The valley acts as a funnel for winds from the east. These less frequent but strong winter winds are channeled down the valley and usuallycarry large amounts of sand, similar to theSanta Ana winds in California. These strong easterly winds significantly deflect all the linear dunes near the valley so that they point downwind (image center).

Further inland (right), the north-pointing and west-pointing patterns appear superimposed, making a rectangular pattern. Because the Namib Desert is very old'”dating from the time when the cold, desert-forming Benguela ocean currentstarted to flow about 37 million years ago'”wind patterns and dune patterns have shifted over time. North-oriented dunes have shifted north and east with drier climates and stronger winds, overriding but not removing earlier dune chains and making the rectangular dune network we see today.

The Tsondab River is a well-known Namib Desert river because it is blocked by linear dunes (just outside the left margin of the image) 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean. Research has shown that during wetter times, it did reach the ocean. The name Tsondab means 'that which is running is suddenly stopped'� in the local Khoisan language.

Along the edge of the dune-free Tsondab River valley, we can see star dunes, which are smaller and display multiple arms (top left).

Astronaut photograph ISS047-E-23405was acquired on March 27, 2016, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 500 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 47 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. TheInternational Space Station Programsupports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC.

Instrument(s):andnbsp;ISS - Digital Camera 

International Space Station

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nova Over Thailand

A nova in Sagittarius is bright enough to see with binoculars. Detected last month, the stellar explosion even approached the limit of naked-eye visibility last week. A classical nova results from a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star -- a dense star having the size of our Earth but the mass of our Sun. In the featured image, the nova was captured last week above ancient Wat Mahathatin SukhothaiThailand. To see Nova Sagittarius 2016 yourself, just go out just after sunset and locate near the western horizon the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius), popularly identified with an iconic teapot. Also visible near the novais the very bright planet Venus. Don’t delay, though, because not only is the nova fading, but that part of the sky is setting continually closer to sunset.
Image Credit & CopyrightJeff Dai (TWAN)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hubble Nets a Subtle Swarm

This Hubble image shows NGC 4789A, a dwarf irregular galaxy in the constellation of Coma Berenices. It certainly lives up to its name '” the stars that call this galaxy home are smeared out across the sky in an apparently disorderly and irregular jumble, giving NGC 4789A a far more subtle and abstract appearance than its glitzy spiral and elliptical cousins.

These stars may look as if they have been randomly sprinkled on the sky, but they are all held together by gravity. The colors in this image have been deliberately exaggerated to emphasize the mix of blue and red stars. The blue stars are bright, hot and massive stars that have formed relatively recently, whereas the red stars are much older. The presence of both tells us that stars have been forming in this galaxy throughout its history.

At a distance of just over 14 million light-years away NGC 4789A is relatively close to us, allowing us to see many of the individual stars within its bounds. This image also reveals numerous other galaxies, far more distant, that appear as fuzzy shapes spread across the image.

Image Credit:andnbsp;ESA/Hubble andamp; NASA, Acknowledgements: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)
Text Credit:andnbsp;European Space Agency

Hubble Space Telescope

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Expedition 50 Crew Launched to the International Space Station

In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, Kazakh time (Nov 17 Eastern time). Whitson, Novitskiy, and Pesquet will spend approximately six months on the International Space Station.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

International Space Station

Satellite Detects Human Contribution to Atmospheric CO2

Launched in July 2014, NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) was designed to give scientists comprehensive, global measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Now a team of scientists has used that satellite data to identify a human signal amid the seasonal fluctuations of the greenhouse gas.

For decades, ground-based observatories have been measuring CO2, and those measurements have been steadily climbing. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide now averages more than 400 parts per million, year-round, which is more than one third higher than CO2 levels before modern industrialization and fossil fuel use began.

Ground stations have provided a broad view of carbon in the atmosphere, and other models and estimates (such as economic data) have filled in some details. Even a few satellites have offered short-term or regional glimpses of CO2patterns. But past efforts have been limited in various ways: by the inability to collect measurements over the oceans; by a lack of resolution or methodical measurement from space-based instruments; and by incomplete reporting by countries and companies monitoring the gas. Most of all, past measurements could not necessarily pinpoint the sources of carbon dioxide.

Various studies and models have determined that humans release about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. But where, exactly, are those emissions coming from today? A group of scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) have used OCO-2 data to make satellite-based maps of human emissions of carbon dioxide. Those satellite observations match well with ground-based estimates.

The maps on this page depict carbon dioxide anomalies in the atmosphere; that is, places where CO2 levels were higher than the normal fluctuations that occur with the seasons. They are based on work published in November 2016 by Janne Hakkarainen and colleagues at FMI. The maps depict widespread carbon dioxide around major urban areas, as well as some smaller pockets of high emissions. The highest values in the study were observed over eastern China, with other hot spots in the eastern United States, Central Europe, the Middle East, and Japan.

'OCO-2 can even detect smaller, isolated emitting areas like individual cities. It's a very powerful tool that gives new insight,'� said Hakkarainen, the atmospheric scientist at FMI who led the study. 'One of the most interesting findings was to see a strong signal over Middle East that is not present in emission inventories'”suggesting that the inventories might be incomplete over that area.'� (Note that the Middle East map does not show data east of Iran because calculations have not yet been made for those areas.)

Carbon dioxide molecules linger in the atmosphere for a century or more, so much of what OCO-2 observes is greenhouse gas that was emitted and accumulated years ago. The amount also fluctuates with the seasons, as plants and phytoplankton soak up more carbon during spring and summer and less in the winter.

The human fingerprint in any given year is relatively small. 'Human emissions within the past year may add only something like three parts per million to that total,'� Hakkarainen noted. The challenge was to isolate the recent manmade emissions from natural cycles and long-term accumulations.

The researchers analyzed and processed OCO-2 data to account for seasonal changes, as well as the background level (already near 400 parts per million). That left them with the signal of emissions from motor vehicles, power plants, and other industrial processes. But to be sure their signal was true, the team turned to another sensor, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite. Built by a Dutch-Finnish team, OMI can measure nitrogen dioxide, another gas emitted during fossil fuel combustion. Carbon detections from OCO-2 lined up with NO2 detections by OMI, confirming the extra carbon dioxide was a result of human activities.

'This is a first step to realizing the potential of the OCO2 data,'� said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He was not involved in the study. 'This provides a baseline against which future changes and variability can be assessed.'�

References and Related Reading

Hakkarainen, J., Ialongo, I., and Tamminen, J. (2016) Direct space-based observations ofanthropogenic CO2 emission areas from OCO-2. Geophysical Research Letters 43.NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2016, November 2) A New Space-Based View of Human Made Carbon Dioxide. Accessed November 11, 2016.NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2016) Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2.Accessed November 11, 2016.University of East Anglia (2016, November 10) Low growth in global carbon emissions continues for third successive year. Accessed November 11, 2016.NASA Earth Observatory (2011, June 16) The Carbon Cycle.NASA Earth Observatory (2013, September 27) Global Patterns of Carbon Dioxide.

NASA Earth Observatory maps by Joshua Stevens, using OCO-2 anomaly data courtesy of Hakkarainen, J., Ialongo, I., andamp; Tamminen, J. (2016). Caption by Mike Carlowicz, NASA Earth Observatory, and Carol Rasmussen, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Instrument(s):andnbsp;OCO-2 

OCO-2

Friday, November 18, 2016

Expedition 50 Crew Waves Farewell

Expedition 50 crewmembers ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, top, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, middle, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos wave farewell before boarding their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft for launch Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, (Kazakh Time) in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The trio will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:20 p.m. EST, Nov. 17 (Nov. 18, Kazakh time). All three will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

International Space Station

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Third Crewed Skylab Mission Launches- Nov 16 1973

This week in 1973, Skylab's third and final crewed mission, launched to America's first space station. This image of Skylab in orbit was taken as the crew departed the space station after 84 days in the station. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center provided the Saturn launch vehicles for the four Skylab missions and directed many of the space station's experiments. Today Marshall's Payload Operations Integration Center serves as "science central" for the International Space Station, working 24/7, 365 days a year in support of the orbiting laboratory's scientific experiments. The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating, and preserving NASA's remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological, and scientific aspects of NASA's activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA's history, visit the History Program's webpage.

Image credit: NASA

The Heart and Soul Nebulas

Is the heart and soul of our Galaxy located in Cassiopeia? Possibly not, but that is where two bright emission nebulas nicknamed Heart and Soul can be found. The Heart Nebula, officially dubbed IC 1805 and visible in the featured image on the right, has a shape reminiscent of a classical heart symbol. Both nebulas shine brightly in the red light of energized hydrogen. Several young open clusters ofstars populate the image and are visible here in blue, including the nebula centers.Light takes about 6,000 years to reach us from these nebulas, which together span roughly 300 light yearsStudies of stars and clusters like those found in theHeart and Soul Nebulas have focused on how massive stars form and how theyaffect their environment.
Image Credit & Copyright: David Lindemann

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cloudscape Over the Philippine Sea

Flying over the Philippine Sea, an astronaut looked toward the horizon from the International Space Station and shot this photograph of three-dimensional clouds, the thin blue envelope of the atmosphere, and the blackness of space. The late afternoon sunlight brightens a broad swath of the sea surface on the right side of the image. In the distance, a wide layer of clouds mostly obscures the northern Philippine islands (top right).

Looking toward the Sun to capture an image is a special technique used by astronauts to accentuate the three dimensions of landscapes and cloudscapes through the use of shadows. Two large thunderclouds rise next to one another (lower right). These clouds have long tails, also known as anvils, that stretch nearly 100 kilometers to the south. Anvils form when thunderstorm clouds rise high into the atmosphere and reach a 'capping layer'� thousands of meters (tens of thousands of feet) above sea level. Capping layers stop the upward growth of a cloud, deflecting air currents horizontally to form anvils.

Related Images

NASA Earth Observatory (2016, March 21) East Indonesia Island Chain.NASA Earth Observatory (2012, May 28) Sunglint and Clouds off Western South America.

Astronaut photograph ISS048-E-10018 was acquired on June 25, 2016, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 116 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 48 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC.

Instrument(s) ;ISS - Digital Camera 

International Space Station

Super moon and Expedition 50 Soyuz

The moon, or supermoon, is seen rising behind the Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station at 3:20 p.m. EST, Nov. 17 (2:20 a.m., Nov. 18, Kazakh time). All three will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex. A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. 

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

International Space Station

Monday, November 14, 2016

Super Moon and International Space Station

What are those specks in front of the Moon? They are silhouettes of theInternational Space Station (ISS). Using careful planning and split-second timing, a meticulous lunar photographer captured ten images of the ISSpassing in front of last month's full moon. But this wasn't just any full moon -- this was the first of the three consecutive 2016 supermoons. A supermoon is a full moon that appears a few percent larger and brighter than most other full moons. The featured image sequence was captured near Dallas, Texas. Occurring today is the second supermoon of this series, a full moon that is the biggest and brightest not only of the year, but of any year since 1948. To see today's super-supermoon yourself, just go outside at night and look up. The third supermoon of this year's series will occur in mid-December.
Image Credit & Copyright: Kris Smith

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Cosmic Web of the Tarantula Nebula

It is the largest and most complex star forming region in the entire galactic neighborhood. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy orbiting our Milky Way galaxy, the region's spidery appearance is responsible for its popular name, the Tarantula nebula. This tarantula, however, is about 1,000 light-years across. Were it placed at the distance of Milky Way's Orion Nebula, only 1,500 light-years distant and the nearest stellar nursery to Earth, it would appear to cover about 30 degrees (60 full moons) on the sky. Intriguing details of the nebula are visible in the featured image shown incolors emitted predominantly by hydrogen and oxygen. The spindly arms of the Tarantula nebula surround NGC 2070, a star cluster that contains some of the brightest, most massive stars known, visible in blue in the image center. Since massive stars live fast and die young, it is not so surprising that the cosmic Tarantula also lies near the site of the closest recent supernova.
Image Credit & Copyright: Josep Drudis

Super Moon vs Micro Moon

What is so super about tomorrow's supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon's fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee - when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, tomorrow's supermoon will undoubtedly qualify because it will be the closest, largest, and brightest full moon in over 65 years. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see -- just go outside and sunset and watch an impressive full moon rise! Since perigee actually occurs tomorrow morning, tonight's full moon, visible starting at sunset, should also be impressive. Pictured here, asupermoon from 2012 is compared to a micromoon -- when a full Moon occurs near the furthest part of the Moon's orbit -- so that it appears smaller and dimmer than usual. Given many definitions, at least one supermoonoccurs each year, with another one coming next month (moon-th). However, a full moon will not come this close to Earth again until 2034.
Image Credit & Copyright: Catalin Paduraru

NGC 891 vs Abell 347

Galaxies abound in this well-chosen field of view that spans about 1 degree on the sky toward the northern constellation Andromeda. At top right is large spiral galaxy NGC 891, 100 thousand light-years across and seen almostexactly edge-on. About 30 million light-years distant, NGC 891 looks a lot like our own Milky Way with a flattened, thin, galactic disk. Its disk and central bulge are cut along the middle by dark, obscuring dust clouds. Scattered toward the lower left, and beyond a foreground of Milky Way stars, are members of galaxy cluster Abell 347. Nearly 240 million light-years away,Abell 347 shows off its own large galaxies in the sharp telescopic image. They are similar to NGC 891 in physical size but located almost 8 times farther away, so Abell 347 galaxies have roughly one eighth the apparent sizeof NGC 891.
For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image websitehttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap161112.html

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Inverted City Beneath Clouds

How could that city be upside-down? The city, Chicago, was actually perfectly right-side up. The long shadows it projected onto nearby Lake Michigan near sunset, however, when seen in reflection, made the buildings appear inverted.This fascinating, puzzling, yet beautiful image was captured by aphotographer in 2014 on an airplane on approach to Chicago's O'HareInternational Airport. The Sun can be seen both above and below the cloud deck, with the later reflected in the calm lake. As a bonus, if you look really closely -- and this is quite a challenge -- you can find another airplane in the image, likely also on approach to the same airport.
Image Credit & Copyright: Mark Hersch

Monday, November 7, 2016

Star Burst Cluster in NGC 3603

A mere 20,000 light-years from the Sun lies NGC 3603, a resident of the nearby Carina spiral arm of our Milky Way GalaxyNGC 3603 is well known to astronomers as one of the Milky Way's largest star-forming regions. The central open star cluster contains thousands of stars more massive than our Sun, stars that likely formed only one or two million years ago in a single burst of star formation. In fact, nearby NGC 3603 is thought to contain a convenient example of the massive star clusters that populate much more distant starburst galaxiesSurrounding the cluster are natal clouds of glowing interstellar gas and obscuring dust, sculpted by energetic stellar radiation and winds. Recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope, the imagespans about 17 light-years.
Image Credit: NASAESAHubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/ Hubble Collaboration
Acknowledgment: J. Maiz Apellaniz (Inst. Astrofisica Andalucia) et al., & Davide de Martin (skyfactory.org)


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Portrait of NGC 281

Look through the cosmic cloud cataloged as NGC 281 and you might miss the stars of open cluster IC 1590. Still, formed within the nebula that cluster's young, massive stars ultimately power the pervasive nebular glow. The eye-catching shapes looming in this portrait of NGC 281 are sculpted columns and dense dust globules seen in silhouette, eroded by intense, energetic winds and radiation from the hot cluster stars. If they survive long enough, the dusty structures could also be sites of future star formation. Playfully called the Pacman Nebula because of its overall shape, NGC 281 is about 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. This sharp composite image was made through narrow-band filters, combining emission from the nebula's hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen atoms in green, red, and blue hues. It spans over 80 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 281.
For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image websitehttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap161104.html

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, In Color

On Nov. 1, 2016, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observed the impact site of Europe's Schiaparelli test lander, gaining the first color view of the site since the lander's Oct. 19, 2016, arrival.andnbsp;

These cutouts from the observation cover three locations where parts of the spacecraft reached the ground: the lander module itself in the upper portion, the parachute and back shell at lower left, and the heat shield at lower right. The heat shield location was outside of the area covered in color. The scale bar of 10 meters (32.8 feet) applies to all three cutouts.

Schiaparelli was one component of the European Space Agency's ExoMars 2016 project, which placed the Trace Gas Orbiter into orbit around Mars on the same arrival date. The ExoMars project received data from Schiaparelli during its descent through the atmosphere. ESA reports that the heat shield separated as planned, the parachute deployed as planned but was released (with back shell) prematurely, and the lander hit the ground at a velocity of more than 180 miles per hour (more than 300 kilometers per hour).

Information gained from the Nov. 1 observation supplements what was learned from an Oct. 25 HiRISE observation, athttp://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21131, which also shows the locations of these three cutouts relative to each other.

Where the lander module struck the ground, dark radial patterns that extend from a dark spot are interpreted as "ejecta," or material thrown outward from the impact, which may have excavated a shallow crater. From the earlier image, it was not clear whether the relatively bright pixels and clusters of pixels scattered around the lander module's impact site are fragments of the module or image noise. Now it is clear that at least the four brightest spots near the impact are not noise. These bright spots are in the same location in the two images and have a white color, unusual for this region of Mars. The module may have broken up at impact, and some fragments might have been thrown outward like impact ejecta.andnbsp;

The parachute has a different shape in the Nov. 1 image than in the Oct. 25 one, apparently from shifting in the wind. Similar shifting was observed in the parachute of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission during the first six months after the Mars arrival of that mission's Curiosity rover in 2012 [http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16813].

At lower right are several bright features surrounded by dark radial impact patterns, located where the heat shield was expected to impact. The bright spots appear identical in the Nov. 1 and Oct. 25 images, which were taken from different angles, so these spots are now interpreted as bright material, such as insulation layers, not glinting reflections.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace andamp; Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Orion Crew Module Underway Recovery Testing

U.S. Navy divers and other personnel in a rigid hull Zodiac boat have attached tether lines to a test version of the Orion crew module during Underway Recovery Test 5 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California on Oct. 27, 2016. NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and the U.S. Navy are conducting a series of tests using the USS San Diego, various watercraft and equipment to practice for recovery of Orion on its return from deep space missions. The testing will allow the team to demonstrate and evaluate recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel in open waters.

Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and NASA's Journey to Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. Orion is scheduled to launch on NASA's Space Launch System in late 2018. 

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill White

Orion MPCV

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NGC:253 Dusty Island Universe

Shiny NGC 253 is one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible, and also one of the dustiest. Some call it the Silver Dollar Galaxy for its appearance in small telescopes, or just the Sculptor Galaxy for its location within the boundaries of the southern constellation Sculptor. First swept up in 1783 by mathematician and astronomer Caroline Herschel, the dusty island universe lies a mere 10 million light-years away. About 70 thousand light-years across, NGC 253 is the largest member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies, the nearest to our own Local Group of Galaxies. In addition to its spiral dust lanes, tendrils of dust seem to be rising from a galactic disk laced with young star clusters and star forming regions in this sharp color image. The high dust content accompanies frantic star formation,earning NGC 253 the designation of a starburst galaxy. NGC 253 is also known to be a strongsource of high-energy x-rays and gamma rays, likely due to massive black holes near the galaxy's center.

For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image websitehttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap161103.html

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

M27 : The Dumbbell Nebula

The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward theconstellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us from M27, shown above in colors emitted by hydrogen andoxygen. Understanding the physics and significance of M27 was well beyond 18th century science. Even today, many things remain mysterious aboutbipolar planetary nebula like M27, including the physical mechanism that expels a low-mass star's gaseous outer-envelope, leaving an X-ray hot white dwarf.
Image Credit & Copyright: John Hayes