Monday, January 2, 2012: NASA's Cassini spacecraft looks toward the south polar region of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and sees a depression within the…Read More »
moon's orange and blue haze layers near the south pole. The moon's high altitude haze layer appears blue, while the main atmospheric haze has an orange color. Particle size of the haze may explain the color difference. The blue haze likely consists of smaller particles than the orange haze. Images taken using red, green and blue filters combined to create this natural color view. Cassini obtained the images on Sept. 11, 2011 at a distance of approximately 83,000 miles (134,000 kilometers) from Titan.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012: In this photo released December 21, 2011, the flight deck of space shuttle Atlantis' glows with light one final time during preparations…Read More »
to power down the orbiter. These preparations took place as Space Shuttle Program transition activities proceded in Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis will go on display in 2013 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. [See our exclusive gallery, Photos: Rare Last Look Inside Shuttle Atlantis, by collectSPACE editor Robert Pearlman.]
Wednesday, January 4, 2012: NASA research pilot Tom Ryan manages a self-portrait while streaking over New Mexico in the ER-2 Earth Resources aircraft on…Read More »
a high-altitude mission carrying the MABEL laser instrument in April 2011. MABEL (Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar) will demonstrate the photon-counting altimetry approach to simulate measurements from NASA's next ice-observing satellite, ICESat-2, scheduled for launch in 2016.
Thursday, January 5, 2012: Object IC 2574, a dwarf irregular galaxy, contains pink bubbles blown by supernova explosions The color of these shells derives…Read More »
from hydrogen gas irradiated by newborn stars. Shock waves from earlier supernova detonations that compressed material together triggered formation of the stars. IC 2574 is commonly known as Coddington's Nebula after the American astronomer Edwin Coddington, who discovered it in 1898. IC 2574 is located about 12 million light-years away, belonging to the Messier 81 group of galaxies.
Friday, January 6, 2012: Astrophotographer Jeff Berkes took this photo Jan. 4, 2012, and said: "[I] went to the Florida Keys where it wasn't all that warm,…Read More »
with wind chills in the 30's. I captured at least a dozen meteors and counted about 100. This year was certainly better than last year. The zodiacal light could been seen for a good hour before dawn started, as seen on the one side of the photo."
Monday, January 9, 2012: Cassini spacecraft's wide-angle camera caught Saturn's moon Tethys in front of wide shadows cast by the planet's rings. Tethys,…Read More »
which measures 660 miles (1062 kilometers) across, appears just below the rings near image center. This view shows the northern, sunlit side of the rings from less than one degree above the ring plane. Cassini took this picture on Dec. 7, 2011.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012: Earth gleams through the seven windows of the Cupola in the International Space Station. A lake, Egirdir Golu in Turkey, seems…Read More »
to float just above the camera (on bracket) at center. Also, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docks to the station at lower right, and part of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) appears just above it. An Expedition 30 crew member took the picture on Dec. 29, 2011.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012: Completely obscured by this enormous plume of water, an 18,000-pound (8,165 kg) Orion mockup plunged into NASA Langley Research…Read More »
Center's Hydro Impact Basin on Jan. 6, 2012. Orion is NASA's next deep space exploration vehicle. The tests simulated different water landing scenarios. The January 6 test represented a worst-case scenario of an abort in rough seas. The test impact conditions simulated all parachutes being deployed with a high impact pitch of 43 degrees. The capsule traveled approximately 47 mph (75.6 kph) before splashing into the basin and rolling over, upside down. The Orion flight design will feature an onboard up-righting system.
Thursday, January 12, 2012: Messier 82 (M 82), also known as the Cigar Galaxy, looks very different in this new Hubble image, the most detailed view ever…Read More »
of the core of this galaxy. Previous images show a galaxy ablaze with stars. This image looks quite unlike them, dominated instead by glowing gas and dust. Filters transparent only to the wavelengths emitted by specific chemical elements isolated the light from glowing gas clouds, while blocking out much of the starlight. Thus the stars appear faint in this image, and the dust lanes are sharply silhouetted against the brightly glowing gas clouds. The starburst galaxy lies about 12 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear).
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Friday, January 13, 2012: Crater Apollodorus on Mercury lies at the upper right of this image obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft. The Pantheon Fossae…Read More »
structure, a complex system of extensional troughs located near the center of the Caloris basin, appears to radiate from the crater. However, scientists do not believe the crater and trough system are related. North is located at the bottom of this image.
Credit: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ)
Monday, January 16, 2012: Japan's Subaru telescope obtained an image of star HR 4796 A so detailed that it confirms the dust ring surrounding the star…Read More »
does not circle in an orbit precisely centered on the star. Researchers suspect the gravitational force of one or more planets orbiting in the gap within the ring pulls at the dust, causing the offset. However, any potential planets causing the dust ring to wobble are too faint to detect with current instruments. HR 4796 A, a young star (8-10 million years old), lies only 240 light years away from Earth.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012: NGC 3259 is a bright barred spiral galaxy located approximately 110 million light-years from Earth. Its central bulge contains…Read More »
a supermassive black hole which emits intense radiation across the whole electromagnetic spectrum, including visible light, producing the bright central core. The spiral arms of the galaxy contain dark lanes of dust and gas, which spawn stars. Bright, young, hot stars appear in clusters in the galaxy's arms, giving the galaxy its bluish hue.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012: A multitude of faint galaxies was captured by the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The picture…Read More »
is part of the COMBO-17 survey (Classifying Objects by Medium-Band Observations in 17 Filters), which records detailed images of small patches of the sky through 17 different-colored filters. The area of this image is only about the size of the full moon, but contains thousands of identifiable galaxies. COMBO-17's extremely precise distance measurements permit astronomers to determine if two visually close galaxies lie at different distances from Earth. Closer galaxies act as gravitational lenses, providing very useful information for understanding how dark matter is distributed in the objects that act as lenses.
Thursday, January 19, 2012: On Jan. 2, 2012, the sun blasted forth a solar flare and coronal mass ejection from its far side. However, SDO spacecraft was…Read More »
able to photograph the strands of rising particle clouds in extreme ultraviolet light. Portions of the strands were unable to break free of the sun’s magnetic fields, and fell back to the sun, as seen here. The blast did not point at Earth.
Friday, January 20, 2012: An auspicious gathering occurred as all 15 space shuttle main engines arrived in the Engine Shop at NASA's Kennedy Space Center…Read More »
in Florida at the same time. Seen here, all six Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne space shuttle main engines from Endeavour's STS-134 and Atlantis' STS-135 missions sit in test cells. They are undergoing preparation for shipment to NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where they will be repurposed for NASA next heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.
Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
Monday, January 23, 2012: M60 is a large elliptical galaxy in the Virgo cluster. NGC 4647 is M60’s companion spiral galaxy which lies visually close to M60.
— Tom Chao
17 of 23
Down in the Depths
Tuesday, January 24, 2012: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image of Caparronia crater on asteroid Vesta on Oct. 23, 2011. The left image shows the…Read More »
brightness and darkness of the surface. The right image uses the same brightness image as a starting point, but adds a color-coded height representation of the topography. The various colors correspond to the height of the area.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012: The aurora borealis glistens above Yellowknife, NWT, Canada, seen by AuroraMAX at 19:41 MST on January 22, 2012. AuroraMAX…Read More »
features a live broadcast of the Northern Lights from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The project hopes to raise awareness of the science of the Northern Lights, and how the sun’s relationship with the Earth can affect our daily lives. AuroraMAX will allow skywatchers to follow the intensity and frequency of the aurora borealis leading up to solar maximum (hence the name AuroraMAX). Solar maximum, the most active period of the Sun’s 11-year cycle (producing the most active auroras), will peak in 2013.
Thursday, January 26, 2012: Three generations of Mars rovers developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., gather in JPL's Mars Yard…Read More »
testing area, clearly showing their relative sizes. At front left stands the flight spare for the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997. On the left stands a Mars Exploration Rover Project test rover representing a working sibling of Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004. On the right, towering over the others, stands a Mars Science Laboratory test rover which matches the size of Curiosity rover, presently on course for landing on Mars in August 2012.
Friday, January 27, 2012: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the tragic fire that killed the 3 crew members of Apollo 1. Apollo 1's crew, consisting of…Read More »
Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II and Roger B. Chaffee, died when a fire broke out in their capsule during a “plugs-out” test. The mission, originally known as AS-204, was redesignated Apollo I in honor of the crew. This photo shows the astronauts in training: (L to R) Roger Chaffee, Ed White and Gus Grissom.
Monday, January 30, 2012: Cassini Spacecraft’s closest flyby of Saturn’s moon Dione came on on Dec. 12, 2011. Dione, closest to Cassini here, fills the…Read More »
left of the image. Two of Saturn’s other moons also appear in this image. Prometheus sits above the rings near the center top of the image. Epimetheus floats on the right. As this flyby focused on other Cassini instruments, it did not yield Cassini's best images of the moon. Earlier flybys yielded higher resolution images.