1. spaceplasma:

    Animations of Saturn’s aurorae

    Earth isn’t the only planet in the solar system with spectacular light shows. Both Jupiter and Saturn have magnetic fields much stronger than Earth’s. Auroras also have been observed on the surfaces of Venus, Mars and even on moons (e.g. Io, Europa, and Ganymede). The auroras on Saturn are created when solar wind particles are channeled into the planet’s magnetic field toward its poles, where they interact with electrically charged gas (plasma) in the upper atmosphere and emit light. Aurora features on Saturn can also be caused by electromagnetic waves generated when its moons move through the plasma that fills the planet’s magnetosphere.  The main source is the small moon Enceladus, which ejects water vapor from the geysers on its south pole, a portion of which is ionized. The interaction between Saturn’s magnetosphere and the solar wind generates bright oval aurorae around the planet’s poles observed in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. The aurorae of Saturn are highly variable. Their location and brightness strongly depends on the Solar wind pressure: the aurorae become brighter and move closer to the poles when the Solar wind pressure increases.

    Credit: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. Calçada)

     

  2. whitehouse:

    “Forty-five years ago, while the world watched as one, the United States of America set foot on the moon. It was a seminal moment not just in our country’s history, but the history of all humankind.” —President Obama on meeting with the Apollo 11 crew and their families to mark the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

    todaysdocument:

    Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin make the first moonwalk, on July 20, 1969.

    In these clips they can been seen planting the U.S. Flag on the lunar surface and experimenting with various types of movement in the Moon’s lower gravity, including loping strides and kangaroo hops.

    Moonwalk One, ca. 1970

    From the series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981. Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1903 - 2006

    via Media Matters » Stepping Stones to the Moon

    (via spaceandstuffidk)

     

  3. usagov:

    Image description: An American astronaut stands on the surface of the moon. July 20th is the anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong saying the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

    See more photos of the Apollo 11 crew and this historic event.

    Photo by NASA.

     

  4. OCO-2 Lifts Off

    On the foggy morning of July 2, 2014, a Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) roared off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The landmark satellite will survey carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere and is expected to provide insight into how the planet is responding to the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    While sensors on the ground have monitored carbon dioxide for decades, key questions about how carbon cycles between Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and land surfaces persist. For instance, it isn’t well understood how a significant portion of carbon dioxide emissions get recycled to other parts of the planet rather than remaining in the atmosphere.

    “Half of the carbon dioxide we’re dumping into the atmosphere every year is disappearing somewhere,” explained OCO-2 project scientist David Crisp during a press conference prior to the launch. “We know from measurements that about a quarter of it is dissolving into the ocean, and we assume that the other quarter is going into the land biosphere somewhere—into forests, into trees, into grasslands—but we don’t know where. It is absolutely critical that we learn what processes are absorbing carbon dioxide because we need to understand how much longer they might continue to do us that great favor.”

    There are also unanswered questions about why the atmosphere holds more carbon dioxide during some years than others. “Sometimes almost 100 percent of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere stays there; sometimes almost none does. We don’t know why,” said Crisp. “We need to understand these processes in order to understand how carbon dioxide will build up in our system in the future, and how we might manage carbon dioxide if that’s what policy makers decide to do.”

    NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured this photograph a few seconds after liftoff at 5:56 a.m. Eastern time. The video, shot by NASA TV, shows the first two minutes of the rocket’s flight. The launch was from the West Coast so the spacecraft could enter a polar orbit, a flight path that will see it cross over the Arctic and Antarctic regions during each revolution and get a complete picture of the Earth. It will fly about 438 miles (705 kilometers) above the planet’s surface.

    Photos by Bill Ingalls. YouTube video by NASATV. Caption by Adam Voiland, with information from NASA news releases.

    Instrument(s): Photograph
     

  5. propagandery:

    Venusian Surface and Sky, from Venera 13, the Soviet craft that landed on March 1, 1982.

    This image was digitally remastered from multiple panoramas scanned and transmitted in real time to Earth.

    "The lander survived for 127 minutes (the planned design life was 32 minutes) in an environment with a temperature of 457 °C (855 °F) and a pressure of 89 Earth atmospheres."

    Sources: @AsteroidEnergy, Italian Planetary Foundation, Wikipedia

    (via itsfullofstars)

     

  6. The Day the Earth Smiled

    In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. It is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-moon system in it.

    The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The “breaks” in the brightness of Saturn’s limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.

    Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. An arrow indicates their location in the annotated version. (The two are clearly seen as separate objects in the accompanying composite image PIA14949.) The other bright dots nearby are stars.

    This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer solar system. The acquisition of this image, along with the accompanying composite narrow- and wide-angle image of Earth and the moon and the full mosaic from which both are taken, marked the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged. That opportunity allowed people around the world to join together in social events to celebrate the occasion.

    This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 20 degrees below the ring plane.

    Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 19, 2013 at a distance of approximately 753,000 miles (1.212 million kilometers) from Saturn, and approximately 898.414 million miles (1.445858 billion kilometers) from Earth. Image scale on Saturn is 43 miles (69 kilometers) per pixel; image scale on the Earth is 53,820 miles (86,620 kilometers) per pixel. The illuminated areas of neither Earth nor the Moon are resolved here. Consequently, the size of each “dot” is the same size that a point of light of comparable brightness would have in the wide-angle camera.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

    For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

    Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
    Image Addition Date:2013-07-22
     

  7. canadian-space-agency:

    ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti looking up into the Orbital Module from inside the Soyuz Descent Module.

    Credit: SpaceShuttleAlmanac

    (Source: twitter.com)

     

  8. theatlantic:

    This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First-Cousin

    Right now, 500 light years away from Earth, there’s a planet that looks a lot like our own. It is bathed in dim orangeish light, which at high noon is only as bright as the golden hour before sunset back home. 

    NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered. 

    It’s the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star—the sweet spot between too-hot Mercury-like planets and too-cold Neptunes— and it is likely to give scientists their first real opportunity to seek life elsewhere in the universe. “It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction,” said Elisa Quintana, a researcher at the SETI Institute. 

    But if there is indeed life on Kepler-186f, it may not look like what we have here. Given the redder wavelengths of light on the planet, vegetation there would sprout in hues of yellow and orange instead of green.

    Read more. [Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech]

    (via itsfullofstars)

     

  9. earth-as-art:

     

  10. Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke has a little difficulty picking up a hammer dropped on the moon.

     

  11. discoverynews:

    Curiosity Snaps Selfies, Begins Mars Rock Drill

    NASA’s rover Curiosity has begun drilling operations for the third time on Mars. Currently located at a geologically interesting location nicknamed “The Kimberley,” the one-ton rover also took the opportunity to photograph itself and the surrounding landscape in some stunning Martian “selfies.” View the gallery

    (via n-a-s-a)

     

  12. newsweek:

    In an unlikely corner of our solar system, scientists have discovered evidence of what they believe is a subterranean ocean. The water means a tiny moon orbiting Saturn could be one of the few places in the solar system with the right ingredients for life.

    The moon Enceladus is only 300 miles wide—it would fit between New York City and Charlottesville, Va. It’s a mini-world with a bright, icy, frigid surface, and it is just one of an astounding 62 moons orbiting the ringed planet. But it is not just a static, boring ice ball. Fractures on the moon’s surface—evocatively named “tiger stripes”—emit jets of frozen water that help form one of the bands in Saturn’s rings.

    Ocean as Large as Lake Superior Found on Enceladus, a Tiny Moon Orbiting Saturn

     

  13. canadian-space-agency:

    View of Saturn taken by Cassini’s camera system on March 28, 2014.

    Image credit: NASA / JPL / SSI / Ian Regan / Val Klavans

     

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  15. mikerugnetta:

    chels:

    explore-blog:

    A technical glitch causes the Hubble Space Telescope, which ordinarily captures magnificently crisp scientific imagery of the cosmos, to lose balance and create this inadvertent piece of modern art.

    It is suspected that in this case, Hubble had locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in this remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. 

    Glitch art goes interstellar.

    good morning

    (via itsfullofstars)