Sunday, January 16, 2022

Chamaeleon Dark Nebulas


Sometimes the dark dust of interstellar space has an angular elegance. Such is the case toward the far-south constellation of Chamaeleon. Normally too faint to see, dark dust is best known for blocking visible light from stars and galaxies behind it. In this four-hour exposure, however, the dust is seen mostly in light of its own, with its strong red and near-infrared colors giving creating a brown hue. Contrastingly blue, the bright star Beta Chamaeleontis is visible just to the right of center, with the dust that surrounds it preferentially reflecting blue light from its primarily blue-white color. All of the pictured stars and dust occur in our own Milky Way Galaxy with -- but one notable exception: the white spot just below Beta Chamaeleontis is the galaxy IC 3104 which lies far in the distance. Interstellar dust is mostly created in the cool atmospheres of giant stars and dispersed into space by stellar light, stellar winds, and stellar explosions such as supernovas.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220117.html ( January 17, 2022)

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A Retreating Thunderstorm at Sunset


What type of cloud is that? This retreating cumulonimbus cloud, more commonly called a thundercloud, is somewhat unusual as it contains the unusual bumpiness of a mammatus cloud on the near end, while simultaneously producing falling rain on the far end. Taken in mid-2013 in southern Alberta, Canada, the cloud is moving to the east, into the distance, as the sun sets in the west, behind the camera. In the featured image, graphic sunset colors cross the sky to give the already photogenic cloud striking orange and pink hues. A darkening blue sky covers the background. Further in the distance, a rising, waxing, gibbous moon is visible on the far right.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220116.html ( January 16, 2022)

Friday, January 14, 2022

Galileo's Europa


Looping through the Jovian system in the late 1990s, the Galileo spacecraft recorded stunning views of Europa and uncovered evidence that the moon's icy surface likely hides a deep, global ocean. Galileo's Europa image data has been remastered here, with improved calibrations to produce a color image approximating what the human eye might see. Europa's long curving fractures hint at the subsurface liquid water. The tidal flexing the large moon experiences in its elliptical orbit around Jupiter supplies the energy to keep the ocean liquid. But more tantalizing is the possibility that even in the absence of sunlight that process could also supply the energy to support life, making Europa one of the best places to look for life beyond Earth. What kind of life could thrive in a deep, dark, subsurface ocean? Consider planet Earth's own extreme shrimp.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220115.html ( January 15, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/13/2021

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Payloads: AstroPi: After moving an AstroPi from Columbus to a Node 2 window, the focus and aperture were adjusted for the 5mm camera lens. This was performed during ISS orbital day to make sure the camera was viewing the Earth. Two augmented Raspberry Pi computers (called AstroPis) were originally flown to the ISS as part … ...

January 13, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/13/iss-daily-summary-report-1-13-2021/

Thursday, January 13, 2022

NGC 1566: The Spanish Dancer Spiral Galaxy


An island universe of billions of stars, NGC 1566 lies about 60 million light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado. Popularly known as the Spanish Dancer galaxy, it's seen face-on from our Milky Way perspective. A gorgeous grand design spiral, this galaxy's two graceful spiral arms span over 100,000 light-years, traced by bright blue star clusters, pinkish starforming regions, and swirling cosmic dust lanes. NGC 1566's flaring center makes the spiral one of the closest and brightest Seyfert galaxies. It likely houses a central supermassive black hole wreaking havoc on surrounding stars, gas, and dust. In this sharp southern galaxy portrait, the spiky stars lie well within the Milky Way.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220114.html ( January 14, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/12/2021

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ISS Reboost: Today, the ISS performed a reboost using the aft 79 Progress thrusters. The purpose of this reboost is to set up the phasing conditions for the 80 Progress 34-Orbit rendezvous in February and begin to set up the phasing conditions for the 66 Soyuz landing and 67 Soyuz launch in March. The burn … ...

January 12, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/12/iss-daily-summary-report-1-12-2021-2/

Color Explosion; Beautiful Earth


This image, captured by the Landsat-8 satellite, shows the view over Western Australia on May 12, 2013.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/color-explosion-beautiful-earth
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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Supernova Remnant Simeis 147


It's easy to get lost following the intricate, looping, twisting filaments in this detailed image of supernova remnant Simeis 147. Also cataloged as Sharpless 2-240 it goes by the popular nickname, the Spaghetti Nebula. Seen toward the boundary of the constellations Taurus and Auriga, it covers nearly 3 degrees or 6 full moons on the sky. That's about 150 light-years at the stellar debris cloud's estimated distance of 3,000 light-years. This composite includes image data taken through narrow-band filters where reddish emission from ionized hydrogen atoms and doubly ionized oxygen atoms in faint blue-green hues trace the shocked, glowing gas. The supernova remnant has an estimated age of about 40,000 years, meaning light from the massive stellar explosion first reached Earth 40,000 years ago. But the expanding remnant is not the only aftermath. The cosmic catastrophe also left behind a spinning neutron star or pulsar, all that remains of the original star's core.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220113.html ( January 13, 2022)

Baby Stars in the Orion Constellation


Scores of baby stars shrouded by dust are revealed in this infrared image of the star-forming region NGC 2174.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/baby-stars-in-the-orion-constellation
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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Comet Leonard Closeup from Australia


What does Comet Leonard look like up close? Although we can't go there, imaging the comet's coma and inner tails through a small telescope gives us a good idea. As the name implies, the ion tail is made of ionized gas -- gas energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun and pushed outward by the solar wind. The solar wind is quite structured and sculpted by the Sun's complex and ever changing magnetic field. The effect of the variable solar wind combined with different gas jets venting from the comet's nucleus accounts for the tail's complex structure. Following the wind, structure in Comet Leonard's tail can be seen to move outward from the Sun even alter its wavy appearance over time. The blue color of the ion tail is dominated by recombining carbon monoxide molecules, while the green color of the coma surrounding the head of the comet is created mostly by a slight amount of recombining diatomic carbon molecules. Diatomic carbon is destroyed by sunlight in about 50 hours -- which is why its green glow does not make it far into the ion tail. The featured imagae was taken on January 2 from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Comet Leonard, presently best viewed from Earth's Southern Hemisphere, has rounded the Sun and is now headed out of the Solar System.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220112.html ( January 12, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/10/2021

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Payloads: Advanced Plant Experiment-07 (APEX-07): A harvest was performed for the plants that have been growing in petri plate experiment containers in the Veggie Facilities. This harvest follows approximately 12 days of plant growth for the Arabidopsis thaliana. APEX-07 examines how changes in gravity and other environmental factors associated with spaceflight affect plants at the … ...

January 10, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/10/iss-daily-summary-report-1-10-2021/

The Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole Has a Leak


Our Milky Way's central black hole has a leak.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/the-milky-ways-supermassive-black-hole-has-a-leak
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Monday, January 10, 2022

Orions Belt Region in Gas and Dust


You may have seen Orion's belt before -- but not like this. The three bright stars across this image are, from left to right, Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak: the iconic belt stars of Orion. The rest of the stars in the frame have been digitally removed to highlight the surrounding clouds of glowing gas and dark dust. Some of these clouds have intriguing shapes, including the Horsehead and Flame Nebulas, both near Alnitak on the lower right. This deep image, taken last month from the Marathon Skypark and Observatory in Marathon, Texas, USA, spans about 5 degrees, required about 20 hours of exposure, and was processed to reveal the gas and dust that we would really see if we were much closer. The famous Orion Nebula is off to the upper right of this colorful field. The entire region lies only about 1,500 light-years distant and so is one of the closest and best studied star formation nurseries known.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220111.html ( January 11, 2022)

Sidney Poitier's Visit to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Legendary actor and diplomat, Sidney Poitier, visited JPL in 1979.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/sidney-poitiers-visit-to-nasas-jet-propulsion-laboratory
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Sunday, January 9, 2022

Comet Leonards Tail Wag


Why does Comet Leonard's tail wag? The featured time-lapse video shows the ion tail of Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) as it changed over ten days early last month. The video was taken by NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-Ahead (STEREO-A) spacecraft that co-orbits the Sun at roughly the same distance as the Earth. Each image in this 29-degree field was subtracted from following image to create frames that highlight differences. The video clearly shows Comet Leonard's long ion tail extending, wagging, and otherwise being blown around by the solar wind -- a stream of fast-moving ions that stream out from the Sun. Since the video was taken, Comet Leonard continued plunging toward the Sun, reached its closest approach to the Sun between the orbits of Mercury and Venus, survived this closest approach without breaking apart, and is now fading as heads out of our Solar System.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220110.html ( January 10, 2022)

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Hubbles Jupiter and the Shrinking Great Red Spot


What will become of Jupiter's Great Red Spot? Gas giant Jupiter is the solar system's largest world with about 320 times the mass of planet Earth. Jupiter is home to one of the largest and longest lasting storm systems known, the Great Red Spot (GRS), visible to the left. The GRS is so large it could swallow Earth, although it has been shrinking. Comparison with historical notes indicate that the storm spans only about one third of the exposed surface area it had 150 years ago. NASA's Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program has been monitoring the storm more recently using the Hubble Space Telescope. The featured Hubble OPAL image shows Jupiter as it appeared in 2016, processed in a way that makes red hues appear quite vibrant. Modern GRS data indicate that the storm continues to constrict its surface area, but is also becoming slightly taller, vertically. No one knows the future of the GRS, including the possibility that if the shrinking trend continues, the GRS might one day even do what smaller spots on Jupiter have done -- disappear completely.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220109.html ( January 09, 2022)

Friday, January 7, 2022

Quadrantids of the North


Named for a forgotten constellation, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower puts on an annual show for planet Earth's northern hemisphere skygazers. The shower's radiant on the sky lies within the old, astronomically obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. That location is not far from the Big Dipper, at the boundaries of the modern constellations Bootes and Draco. In fact north star Polaris is just below center in this frame and the Big Dipper asterism (known to some as the Plough) is above it, with the meteor shower radiant to the right. Pointing back toward the radiant, Quadrantid meteors streak through the night in the panoramic skyscape, a composite of images taken in the hours around the shower's peak on January 4, 2022. Arrayed in the foreground are radio telescopes of the Chinese Spectral Radioheliograph, Mingantu Observing Station, Inner Mongolia, China. A likely source of the dust stream that produces Quadrantid meteors was identified in 2003 as an asteroid.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220108.html ( January 08, 2022)

Waiting to Unfold


This image shows the James Webb Space Telescope atop its launch vehicle, but before it was encapsulated in the rocket fairing.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/waiting-to-unfold
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ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/06/2021

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Payloads: Acoustic Diagnostics:  Acoustic Diagnostics (AUDIO) measurements were taken.  The Acoustic Upgraded Diagnostics In-Orbit (Acoustic Diagnostics) investigation tests the hearing of ISS crew members before, during, and after flight. This study assesses the possible adverse effects of noise and the microgravity environment aboard the ISS on human hearing. The investigation compares the relationship between the … ...

January 06, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/06/iss-daily-summary-report-1-06-2021/

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Ecstatic Solar Eclipse


A male Adelie penguin performed this Ecstatic Vocalization in silhouette during the December 4 solar eclipse, the final eclipse of 2021. Of course his Ecstatic Vocalization is a special display that male penguins use to claim their territory and advertise their condition. This penguin's territory, at Cape Crozier Antarctica, is located in one of the largest Adelie penguin colonies. The colony has been studied by researchers for over 25 years. From there, last December's eclipse was about 80 percent total when seen at its maximum phase as the Moon's shadow crossed planet Earth's southernmost continent.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220107.html ( January 07, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/05/2021

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Payloads: Analyzing Interferometer for Ambient Air-2 (ANITA-2): ANITA-2 hardware was installed into an EXPRESS Rack. Power cables were mated, and the facility was powered up followed by photo documentation.  The ANITA-2 is a compact gas analyzer which can analyze and quantify 33 trace contaminants in the atmosphere aboard the ISS automatically. ANITA-2 can also detect … ...

January 05, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/05/iss-daily-summary-report-1-05-2021/

Hubble Spots Star-Hatching frEGGs!


This image shows knots of cold, dense interstellar gas where new stars are forming.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/hubble-spots-star-hatching-freggs
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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Last Days of Venus as the Evening Star


That's not a young crescent Moon posing behind cathedral towers after sunset. It's Venus in a crescent phase. About 40 million kilometers away and about 2 percent illuminated by sunlight, it was captured with camera and telephoto lens in this series of exposures as it set in western skies on January 1 from Veszprem, Hungary. The bright celestial beacon was languishing in the evening twilight, its days as the Evening Star coming to a close as 2022 began. But it was also growing larger in apparent size and becoming an ever thinner crescent in telescopic views. Heading toward a (non-judgemental) inferior conjunction, the inner planet will be positioned between Earth and Sun on January 9 and generally lost from view in the solar glare. A crescent Venus will soon reappear though. Rising in the east by mid-month just before the Sun as the brilliant Morning Star.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220106.html ( January 06, 2022)

NASA’s X-59 Kicks Off 2022 in Texas for Ground Testing


2021 saw significant milestones achieved in the assembly of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft (QueSST), and all eyes now look forward to a pivotal 2022.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/image-feature/x59-ground-testing.html
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ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/04/2021

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Payloads: Airborne Particulate Monitor (APM):  A crewmember removed the SD Card from APM, transferred its data to an SSC laptop, and re-insert the SD Card back into APM.  Air quality in crewed spacecraft is important for keeping astronauts healthy and comfortable. Although requirements exist for maximum allowable concentrations of particulate matter, currently no measurement capability … ...

January 04, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/04/iss-daily-summary-report-1-04-2021/

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

A Year of Sunrises


Does the Sun always rise in the same direction? No. As the months change, the direction toward the rising Sun changes, too. The featured image shows the direction of sunrise every month during 2021 as seen from the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The camera in the image is always facing due east, with north toward the left and south toward the right. As shown in an accompanying video, the top image was taken in 2020 December, while the bottom image was captured in 2021 December, making 13 images in total. Although the Sun always rises in the east in general, it rises furthest to the south of east on the December solstice, and furthest north of east on the June solstice. In many countries, the December Solstice is considered an official change in season: for example the first day of winter in the North. Solar heating and stored energy in the Earth's surface and atmosphere are near their lowest during winter, making the winter season the coldest of the year.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220105.html ( January 05, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/03/2021

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Payloads: BioMole: BioMole Surface Sampling and DNA Extraction was performed. The Environmental Health System (EHS) Biomole Facility non-culture based samples are capable of providing microbial identification on-orbit within days of sampling.  The goal of this Tech Demo is to conduct comparative analysis for possible replacement of current microbial monitoring systems. Cytoskeleton: The Med Reservoirs were … ...

January 03, 2022 at 11:00AM
From NASA: https://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/2022/01/03/iss-daily-summary-report-1-03-2021/

NASA Headquarters Photographers Pick Their Best


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen at Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/nasa-headquarters-photographers-pick-their-best
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Monday, January 3, 2022

Moons Beyond Rings at Saturn


What's happened to that moon of Saturn? Nothing -- Saturn's moon Rhea is just partly hidden behind Saturn's rings. In 2010, the robotic Cassini spacecraft then orbiting Saturn took this narrow-angle view looking across the Solar System's most famous rings. Rings visible in the foreground include the thin F ring on the outside and the much wider A and B rings just interior to it. Although it seems to be hovering over the rings, Saturn's moon Janus is actually far behind them. Janus is one of Saturn's smaller moons and measures only about 180 kilometers across. Farther out from the camera is the heavily cratered Rhea, a much larger moon measuring 1,500 kilometers across. The top of Rhea is visible only through gaps in the rings. After more than a decade of exploration and discovery, the Cassini spacecraft ran low on fuel in 2017 and was directed to enter Saturn's atmosphere, where it surely melted.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220104.html ( January 04, 2022)

The James Webb Telescope Lights Up the Sky During Launch


NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, launched aboard Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021.

from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/the-james-webb-telescope-lights-up-the-sky-during-launch
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Saturday, January 1, 2022

Quadruple Lunar Halo Over Winter Road


Sometimes falling ice crystals make the atmosphere into a giant lens causing arcs and halos to appear around the Sun or Moon. One Saturday night in 2012 was just such a time near Madrid, Spain, where a winter sky displayed not only a bright Moon but four rare lunar halos. The brightest object, near the top of the featured image, is the Moon. Light from the Moon refracts through tumbling hexagonal ice crystals into a somewhat rare 22-degree halo seen surrounding the Moon. Elongating the 22-degree arc horizontally is a more rare circumscribed halo caused by column ice crystals. Even more rare, some moonlight refracts through more distant tumbling ice crystals to form a (third) rainbow-like arc 46 degrees from the Moon and appearing here just above a picturesque winter landscape. Furthermore, part of a whole 46-degree circular halo is also visible, so that an extremely rare -- especially for the Moon -- quadruple halo was captured. Far in the background is a famous winter skyscape that includes Sirius, the belt of Orion, and Betelgeuse -- visible between the inner and outer arcs. Halos and arcs typically last for minutes to hours, so if you do see one there should be time to invite family, friends or neighbors to share your unusual lensed vista of the sky.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220102.html ( January 02, 2022)