Saturday, April 30, 2022

First Horizon Scale Image of a Black Hole

What does a black hole look like? To find out, radio telescopes from around the Earth coordinated observations of black holes with the largest known event horizons on the sky. Alone, black holes are just black, but these monster attractors are known to be surrounded by glowing gas. This first image resolves the area around the black hole at the center of galaxy M87 on a scale below that expected for its event horizon. Pictured, the dark central region is not the event horizon, but rather the black hole's shadow -- the central region of emitting gas darkened by the central black hole's gravity. The size and shape of the shadow is determined by bright gas near the event horizon, by strong gravitational lensing deflections, and by the black hole's spin. In resolving this black hole's shadow, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) bolstered evidence that Einstein's gravity works even in extreme regions, and gave clear evidence that M87 has a central spinning black hole of about 6 billion solar masses. Since releasing this featured image in 2019, the EHT has expanded to include more telescopes, observe more black holes, track polarized light,and is working to observe the immediately vicinity of the black hole in the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. ( May 01, 2022)

Friday, April 29, 2022

M44: The Beehive Cluster

A mere 600 light-years away, M44 is one of the closest star clusters to our solar system. Also known as the Praesepe or the Beehive cluster its stars are young though, about 600 million years old compared to our Sun's 4.5 billion years. Based on similar ages and motion through space, M44 and the even closer Hyades star cluster in Taurus are thought to have been born together in the same large molecular cloud. An open cluster spanning some 15 light-years, M44 holds 1,000 stars or so and covers about 3 full moons (1.5 degrees) on the sky in the constellation Cancer. Visible to the unaided eye, M44 has been recognized since antiquity. Described as a faint cloud or celestial mist long before being included as the 44th entry in Charles Messier's 18th century catalog, the cluster was not resolved into its individual stars until telescopes were available. A popular target for modern, binocular-equipped sky gazers, the cluster's few yellowish tinted, cool, red giants are scattered through the field of its brighter hot blue main sequence stars in this telescopic group snapshot. Dramatic diffraction spikes highlighting the brighter cluster members were created with string crossed in front of the telescope's objective lens. ( April 30, 2022)

Astronaut Victor Glover: Inspiring Washington Area Students

NASA astronaut Victor Glover greets one of his youngest fans, 3-year-old Ezra Garrel.

from NASA

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Portrait of NGC 3628

Sharp telescopic views of NGC 3628 show a puffy galactic disk divided by dark dust lanes. Of course, this portrait of the magnificent, edge-on spiral galaxy puts some astronomers in mind of its popular moniker, the Hamburger Galaxy. It also reveals a small galaxy nearby (below), likely a satellite of NGC 3628, and a very faint but extensive tidal tail. The drawn out tail stretches for about 300,000 light-years, even beyond the upper left edge of the frame. NGC 3628 shares its neighborhood in the local universe with two other large spirals M65 and M66 in a grouping otherwise known as the Leo Triplet. Gravitational interactions with its cosmic neighbors are likely responsible for creating the tidal tail, as well as the extended flare and warp of this spiral's disk. The tantalizing island universe itself is about 100,000 light-years across and 35 million light-years away in the northern springtime constellation Leo. ( April 29, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/27/2022



Crew-4 Launch: At 2:52 AM CT today, SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom lifted off from Launch Complex-39A at Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket and is scheduled to dock to the ISS tonight at 6:30 PM CT. Crew Dragon Freedom carries NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins and ESA astronaut Samantha … ...

April 27, 2022 at 12:00PM
From NASA:

Improving Weather Data Using High-Altitude Balloons

In this image, World View’s Stratollite high-altitude balloon is inflated on the launch pad in Tucson, Arizona on April 9, 2022.

from NASA

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Lyrid of the Lake

In the early hours of April 24 this bright Lyrid meteor flashed along the central Milky Way. For a moment, it cast a bright reflection across Lake Nian, Yunnan province, China. The annual Lyrid meteor shower, one of the oldest known, is active in late April, as our fair planet plows through dust left along the orbit of long-period comet Thatcher. The trail of the bright fireball points back toward the shower's radiant in the constellation Lyra high in the northern springtime sky and off the top of the frame. Just rising in that starry sky, light from a third quarter moon also cast a glow on the peaceful waters of the lake. ( April 28, 2022)

NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 Launch

The mission launched April 27, 2022.

from NASA

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/26/2022



Payloads: Dose Distribution Inside the ISS – 3D (DOSIS-3D): DOSIS passive detector packs (PDPs) were uninstalled from both the USOS and RS. ISS crewmembers are continually exposed to varying levels of radiation which can be harmful to their health. DOSIS-3D uses several active and passive detectors to determine the radiation doses inside the ISS. The … ...

April 26, 2022 at 12:00PM
From NASA:

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Moon Shadow on Jupiter

What is that large dark spot on Jupiter? It's the shadow of Io, one of Jupiter's largest moons. When Jupiter's moons cross between the Jovian giant and the Sun, they created shadows just like when the Earth's moon crosses between the Earth and the Sun. Also like on Earth, if you were in a dark shadow on Jupiter, you would see a moon completely eclipse the Sun. Unlike on Earth, moon shadows occur most days on Jupiter -- what's more unusual is that a spacecraft was close enough to record one with a high-resolution image. That spacecraft, Juno, was passing so close to Jupiter in late February that nearby clouds and the dark eclipse shadow appear relatively large. Juno has made many discoveries about our Solar System's largest planet, including, recently, rapidly expanding circular auroras. ( April 27, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/25/2022



Axiom-1 (Ax-1) Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Undock and Landing: SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour undocked from the ISS on Sunday, April 24th at 8:10 PM CT to return private astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe following a successful 15 day docked mission. The vehicle splashed down near Jacksonville, Florida at 12:06 PM … ...

April 25, 2022 at 12:00PM
From NASA:

An Angel Wing in Space

This Hubble Space Telescope image features two merging galaxies in the VV-689 system, nicknamed the Angel Wing.

from NASA

Monday, April 25, 2022

Planet Parade over Sydney Opera House

The world is waking up to a picturesque planet parade. Just before dawn, the eastern skies over much of planet Earth are decorated by a notable line of familiar planets. In much of Earth's northern hemisphere, this line of planets appears most nearly horizontal, but in much of Earth's southern hemisphere, the line appears more nearly vertical. Pictured over the Sydney Opera House in southern Australia, the planet line was captured nearly vertical about five days ago. From top to bottom, the morning planets are Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. As April ends, the angular distance between Venus and Jupiter will gradually pass below a degree as they switch places. Then, as May ends, Jupiter will pass near Mars as those two planets switch places. In June, the parade will briefly expand to include Mercury. ( April 26, 2022)

Artemis I, Crew-4, & Starlink Rockets on the Pad

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a batch of the company's Starlink internet satellites lifts off from Launch Complex 40.

from NASA

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Great Nebula in Carina

In one of the brightest parts of Milky Way lies a nebula where some of the oddest things occur. NGC 3372, known as the Great Nebula in Carina, is home to massive stars and changing nebulas. The Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324), the bright structure just below the image center, houses several of these massive stars. The entire Carina Nebula, captured here, spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically. While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that much of the Great Nebula in Carina has been a veritable supernova factory. ( April 25, 2022)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Split the Universe

Just now, before you hit the button, two future universes are possible. After pressing the button, though, you will live in only one. A real-web version of the famous Schrödinger's cat experiment clicking the red button in the featured astronaut image should transform that image into a picture of the same astronaut holding one of two cats -- one living, or one dead. The timing of your click, combined with the wiring of your brain and the millisecond timing of your device, will all conspire together to create a result dominated, potentially, by the randomness of quantum mechanics. Some believe that your personally-initiated quantum decision will split the universe in two, and that both the live-cat and dead-cat universes exist in separate parts of a larger multiverse. Others believe that the result of your click will collapse the two possible universes into one -- in a way that could not have been predicted beforehand. Yet others believe that the universe is classically deterministic, so that by pressing the button you did not really split the universe, but just carried out an action predestined since time began. We at APOD believe that however silly you may feel clicking the red button, and regardless of the outcome, you should have a thought-provoking day. Or two. ( April 24, 2022)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Messier 104

A gorgeous spiral galaxy, Messier 104 is famous for its nearly edge-on profile featuring a broad ring of obscuring dust lanes. Seen in silhouette against an extensive central bulge of stars, the swath of cosmic dust lends a broad brimmed hat-like appearance to the galaxy suggesting a more popular moniker, the Sombrero Galaxy. This sharp view of the well-known galaxy was made from over 10 hours of Hubble Space Telescope image data, processed to bring out faint details often lost in the overwhelming glare of M104's bright central bulge. Also known as NGC 4594, the Sombrero galaxy can be seen across the spectrum, and is host to a central supermassive black hole. About 50,000 light-years across and 28 million light-years away, M104 is one of the largest galaxies at the southern edge of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Still, the spiky foreground stars in this field of view lie well within our own Milky Way. ( April 23, 2022)

A Sunrise Across Our World

An orbital sunrise beams across Earth's horizon revealing silhouetted clouds above the South China Sea.

from NASA

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Planet Earth at Twilight

No sudden, sharp boundary marks the passage of day into night in this gorgeous view of ocean and clouds over our fair planet Earth. Instead, the shadow line or terminator is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. With the Sun illuminating the scene from the right, the cloud tops reflect gently reddened sunlight filtered through the dusty troposphere, the lowest layer of the planet's nurturing atmosphere. A clear high altitude layer, visible along the dayside's upper edge, scatters blue sunlight and fades into the blackness of space. This picture was taken in June of 2001 from the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 211 nautical miles. Of course from home, you can check out the Earth Now. ( April 22, 2022)

Happy 32nd Birthday to Hubble!

We're celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope's 32nd birthday with a stunning look at an unusual close-knit collection of five galaxies.

from NASA

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/20/2022



Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1 (Ax-1): Commercial, Payload, and Imagery Activities: The Ax-1 crew continued payload operations including Earth Observation, AstroRad, and Snowcone. Mike LA captured recorded video of a commercial activity. Ax-1 Undock Preparations: Due to the delayed undocking, the Ax-1 crew removed the Polars from the Ax-1 Dragon and re-installed the emergency equipment. … ...

April 20, 2022 at 12:00PM
From NASA:

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Apollo 16 Moon Panorama

Fifty years ago, April 20, 1972, Apollo 16's lunar module Orion touched down on the Moon's near side in the south-central Descartes Highlands. While astronaut Ken Mattingly orbited overhead in Casper the friendly command and service module the Orion brought John Young and Charles Duke to the lunar surface. The pair would spend nearly three days on the Moon. Constructed from images (AS16-117-18814 to AS16-117-18820) taken near the end of their third and final surface excursion this panoramic view puts the lunar module in the distance toward the left. Their electric lunar roving vehicle in the foreground, Duke is operating the camera while Young aims the high gain communications antenna skyward, toward planet Earth. ( April 21, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/19/2022



Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1 (Ax-1): Public Affairs Office (PAO) and Imagery Activities: The Ax-1 crew performed an imagery data transfer of all remaining images from Axiom’s D6 Nikon Camera and participated in a live farewell ceremony with the ISS crew.    Ax-1 Undock Preparations: The Ax-1 crew performed cargo packing in preparation for undock; however, … ...

April 19, 2022 at 12:00PM
From NASA:

Returning from the SpaceX Crew-4 Dress Rehearsal

A vehicle carrying two members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission passed by the VAB as it returned to Launch Complex 39A.

from NASA

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Planet Line over New York Bridge

There's an interesting sky to see if you wake up before the Sun. Lined up on toward the eastern horizon are four planets in a row. The planets are so bright they can even be seen from the bright sky inside a city. In fact, the featured image was taken from New York City, USA, with the foreground highlighted by the RFK (Triborough) Bridge. Pictured, the planets are, left to right, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn. The planets all appear in a row because they all orbit the Sun in the same plane. This plane, called the ecliptic plane, was created in the early days of our Solar System and includes all planets, including Earth. The morning planet parade will continue throughout April and May, and will even be joined by Mercury in June. ( April 20, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/18/2022



RS Extravehicular Activity (EVA) #52: During today’s EVA, FE-1 Oleg Artemyev and FE-2 Denis Matveev worked outside the MLM to unstow the European Robotic Arm (ERA) and configure it for operational use. FE-3 Sergey Korsakov assisted with the ERA checkout from within the RS. The following tasks were completed. Completed: Install and connect the ERA … ...

April 18, 2022 at 12:00PM
From NASA:

Crew-4 Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Astronaut Kjell Lindgren speaks to members of the media after arriving att Kennedy Space Center, ahead of SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission.

from NASA

Monday, April 18, 2022

Stars and Globules in the Running Chicken Nebula

The eggs from this gigantic chicken may form into stars. The featured emission nebula, shown in scientifically assigned colors, is cataloged as IC 2944 but known as the Running Chicken Nebula for the shape of its greater appearance. Seen toward the bottom of the image are small, dark molecular clouds rich in obscuring cosmic dust. Called Thackeray's Globules for their discoverer, these "eggs" are potential sites for the gravitational condensation of new stars, although their fates are uncertain as they are also being rapidly eroded away by the intense radiation from nearby young stars. Together with patchy glowing gas and complex regions of reflecting dust, these massive and energetic stars form the open cluster Collinder 249. This gorgeous skyscape spans about 60 light-years at the nebula's estimated 6,500 light-year distance. ( April 19, 2022)

Sunlight on the Atlantic Ocean

In this image from April 10, 2022, sunlight glints off the Atlantic Ocean in this photograph from taken by the crew of the International Space Station.

from NASA

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Stars and Planets over Portugal

The mission was to document night-flying birds -- but it ended up also documenting a beautiful sky. The featured wide-angle mosaic was taken over the steppe golden fields in Mértola, Portugal in 2020. From such a dark location, an immediately-evident breathtaking glow arched over the night sky: the central band of our Milky Way galaxy. But this sky had much more. Thin clouds crossed the sky like golden ribbons. The planet Mars appeared on the far left, while the planets Saturn and Jupiter were also simultaneously visible -- but on the opposite side of the sky, here seen on the far right. Near the top of the image the bright star Vega can be found, while the far-distant and faint Andromeda Galaxy can be seen toward the left, just below Milky Way's arch. As the current month progresses, several planets are lining up in the pre-dawn sky: Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn. ( April 18, 2022)

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Shuttle Over Earth

What's that approaching? Astronauts on board the International Space Station in 2010 first saw it far in the distance. Soon it enlarged to become a dark silhouette. As it came even closer, the silhouette appeared to be a spaceship. Finally, the object revealed itself to be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and it soon docked as expected with the Earth-orbiting space station. Pictured here, Endeavour was imaged near Earth's horizon as it approached, where several layers of the Earth's atmosphere were visible. Directly behind the shuttle is the mesosphere, which appears blue. The atmospheric layer that appears white is the stratosphere, while the orange layer is Earth's Troposphere. Together, these thin layers of air -- collectively spanning less than 2 percent of Earth's radius -- sustain us all in many ways, including providing oxygen to breath and a barrier to dangerous radiations from space. ( April 17, 2022)

Friday, April 15, 2022

Orion Pines

Taken with a camera fixed to a tripod, many short exposures were aligned with the stars to unveil this beautiful, dark night sky. Captured near the rural village of Albany`a at the northeastern corner of Spain, the three stars of Orion's belt stretch across top center in the starry frame. Alnitak, the easternmost (left) of the belt stars is seen next to the more diffuse glow of the Flame Nebula and the dark notch of the famous Horsehead. Easily visible to the naked-eye The Great Nebula of Orion is below the belt stars. A mere 1,500 light-years distant, it is the closest large stellar nursery to our fair planet. Best seen in photographs, the broad and faint arc of Barnard's Loop seems to embrace Orion's brighter stars and nebulae though. In the northern spring the familiar northern winter constellation is setting. Near the western horizon toward lower right Orion's apparently bright blue supergiant Rigel just touches the branches of a pine tree. ( April 16, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/14/2022



Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1: Public Affairs Office (PAO), Payload, and Commercial Activities: Multiple NASA-sponsored and ESA-sponsored PAO events have been performed, including eight Ice Cube Media Set events, three Ham radio events, and three PAO events, including a duet in space between Mike LA and the neoclassical pianist BLKBOK. The Ax-1 crew completed activities … ...

April 15, 2022 at 02:43PM
From NASA:

Night Skies and National Parks

NASA helped to create a web-based tool that helps park managers better understand the impact of outdoor lighting and noise on animal species in national parks.

from NASA

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Gator Back Rocks of Mars

Wind-sharpened rocks known as ventifacts, cover this broad sloping plain in the foot hills of Mount Sharp, Gale crater, Mars. Dubbed gator-back rocks their rugged, scaly appearance is captured in these digitally stitched Mastcam frames from the Curiosity rover on mission sol 3,415 (March 15, 2022). Driving over gator-back rocks before has resulted in damage to the rover's wheels, so Curiosity team members decided to turn around and take another path to continue the rover's climb. Curiosity has been on an ascent of Gale crater's central 5.5 kilometer high mountain since 2014. As it climbs, it's been able to study layers shaped by water on Mars billions of years ago. ( April 15, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/13/2022



Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1 (Ax-1): Public Affairs Office (PAO), Payload, and Commercial Activities: Multiple NASA-sponsored and ESA-sponsored PAO events have been performed, including nine Ice Cube Media Set events, two HAM radio events, and one PAO event between the Ax-1 crew and youth at Space Center Houston. The Ax-1 crew completed activities associated with … ...

April 14, 2022 at 02:22PM
From NASA:

Finding the Origins of Supermassive Black Holes

This artist's impression is of a supermassive black hole that is inside the dust-shrouded core of a vigorously star-forming "starburst" galaxy.

from NASA

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Messier 96

Spiral arms seem to swirl around the core of Messier 96 in this colorful, detailed portrait of a beautiful island universe. Of course M96 is a spiral galaxy, and counting the faint arms extending beyond the brighter central region it spans 100 thousand light-years or so. That's about the size of our own Milky Way. M96 is known to be 38 million light-years distant, a dominant member of the Leo I galaxy group. Background galaxies and smaller Leo I group members can be found by examining the picture. The most intriguing one is itself a spiral galaxy seen nearly edge on behind the outer spiral arm near the 1 o'clock position from center. Its bright central bulge cut by its own dark dust clouds, the edge-on background spiral appears to be about 1/5 the size of M96. If that background galaxy is similar in actual size to M96, then it would be about 5 times farther away. ( April 14, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/12/2022



Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1 (Ax-1): Public Affairs Office (PAO) and Payload Activities: Multiple NASA-sponsored and ESA-sponsored PAO events were performed, including one PAO event between L. Conner and CNBC, and 13 Ice Cube Media Set events, one of which was shortened due to technical difficulties. The Ax-1 crew completed ISS National Lab sponsored payload … ...

April 13, 2022 at 03:10PM
From NASA:

Space Butterfly

What looks like a red butterfly in space is in reality a nursery for hundreds of baby stars, revealed in this infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

from NASA

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Milky Way over Devils Tower

What created Devils Tower? The origin of this extraordinary rock monolith in Wyoming, USA is still debated, with a leading hypothesis holding that it is a hardened lava plume that never reached the surface to become a volcano. In this theory, the lighter rock that once surrounded the dense volcanic neck has now eroded away, leaving the dramatic tower. Known by Native Americans by names including Bear's Lodge and Great Gray Horn, the dense rock includes the longest hexagonal columns known, some over 180-meters tall. High above, the central band of the Milky Way galaxy arches across the sky. Many notable sky objects are visible, including dark strands of the Pipe Nebula and the reddish Lagoon Nebula to the tower's right. Green grass and trees line the foreground, while clouds appear near the horizon to the tower's left. Unlike many other international landmarks, mountaineers are permitted to climb Devils Tower. ( April 13, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/11/2022



Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1 (Ax-1): Ax-1 PAM Dock: SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour successfully docked to the ISS on Saturday, April 9th, at 07:42 AM CST. The docking was delayed for approximately 45 minutes due to issues transmitting video from the Dragon centerline berthing camera to the Station Support Computer (SSC) on ISS. With the … ...

April 12, 2022 at 01:44PM
From NASA:

April 12, 1981: Launch of the First Shuttle Mission

On April 12, 1981, NASA launched is first Space Transportation System, or space shuttle, mission, carrying astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into orbit.

from NASA

Monday, April 11, 2022

N11: Star Clouds of the LMC

Massive stars, abrasive winds, mountains of dust, and energetic light sculpt one of the largest and most picturesque regions of star formation in the Local Group of Galaxies. Known as N11, the region is visible on the upper right of many images of its home galaxy, the Milky Way neighbor known as the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The featured image was taken for scientific purposes by the Hubble Space Telescope and reprocessed for artistry. Although the section imaged above is known as NGC 1763, the entire N11 emission nebula is second in LMC size only to the Tarantula Nebula. Compact globules of dark dust housing emerging young stars are also visible around the image. A recent study of variable stars in the LMC with Hubble has helped to recalibrate the distance scale of the observable universe, but resulted in a slightly different scale than found using the pervasive cosmic microwave background. ( April 12, 2022)

ISS Daily Summary Report – 4/08/2022



Axiom-1 Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Launch: SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour successfully launched from Launch Complex-39A today at 10:17 AM CT on a Falcon 9 carrying Private Astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe for the Axiom-1 mission. Crew Dragon Endeavour is planned to dock to the ISS on Saturday, April 9th, at … ...

April 11, 2022 at 01:59PM
From NASA:

When Galaxies Collide

A spectacular head-on collision between two galaxies fueled the unusual triangular-shaped star-birthing frenzy, as captured in this image from Hubble.

from NASA

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A Space Station Crosses a Busy Sun

Typically, the International Space Station is visible only at night. Slowly drifting across the night sky as it orbits the Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen as a bright spot several times a year from many locations. The ISS is then visible only just after sunset or just before sunrise because it shines by reflected sunlight -- once the ISS enters the Earth's shadow, it will drop out of sight. The only occasion when the ISS is visible during the day is when it passes right in front of the Sun. Then, it passes so quickly that only cameras taking short exposures can visually freeze the ISS's silhouette onto the background Sun. The featured picture did exactly that -- it is actually a series of images taken earlier this month from Beijing, China with perfect timing. This image series was later combined with separate images taken at nearly the same time but highlighting the texture and activity on the busy Sun. The solar activity included numerous gaseous prominences seen around the edge, highlighted in red, filaments seen against the Sun's face, and a dark sunspot. ( April 11, 2022)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Shadows at the Moons South Pole

Was this image of the Moon's surface taken with a microscope? No -- it's a multi-temporal illumination map made with a wide-angle camera. To create it, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft collected 1,700 images over a period of 6 lunar days (6 Earth months), repeatedly covering an area centered on the Moon's south pole from different angles. The resulting images were stacked to produce the featured map -- representing the percentage of time each spot on the surface was illuminated by the Sun. Remaining convincingly in shadow, the floor of the 19-kilometer diameter Shackleton crater is seen near the map's center. The lunar south pole itself is at about 9 o'clock on the crater's rim. Crater floors near the lunar south and north poles can remain in permanent shadow, while mountain tops can remain in nearly continuous sunlight. Useful for future outposts, the shadowed crater floors could offer reservoirs of water-ice, while the sunlit mountain tops offer good locations to collect solar power. ( April 10, 2022)

Friday, April 8, 2022

Mars Saturn Conjunction

Fainter stars in the zodiacal constellation Capricornus are scattered near the plane of the ecliptic in this field of view. The two brightest ones at center aren't stars at all though, but the planets Mars and Saturn. Taken on the morning of April 4, the telescopic snapshot captured their tantalizing close conjunction in a predawn sky, the pair of planets separated by only about 1/3 of a degree. That's easily less than the apparent width of a Full Moon. Can you tell which planet is which? If you guessed Mars is the redder one , you'd be right. Above Mars, slightly fainter Saturn still shines with a paler yellowish tinge in reflected sunlight. Even at the low magnification, Saturn's largest and brightest moon Titan can be spotted hugging the planet very closely on the left. ( April 09, 2022)

Axiom Mission 1 at Pad 39A and Artemis I at Pad 39B

SpaceX’s Axiom-1 is in the foreground on Launch Pad 39A with NASA’s Artemis I in the background on Launch Pad 39B on April 6, 2022.

from NASA