Credit: Vesta: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA; Mercury: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Thursday, February 2, 2012: Two images displayed together show the fruits of NASA’s labors. In 2011, MESSENGER spacecraft went into orbit around Mercury…Read More »
(left), and Dawn spacecraft orbited main-belt asteroid Vesta (right), sending back the images seen here. Both spacecraft were the first to orbit their respective subjects. MESSENGER and Dawn are missions in NASA's lowest-cost Discovery program. Vesta has a much more irregular shape than Mercury, as a result of Mercury's far larger gravity, which squeezed the planet into a sphere. Mercury possesses a mass about 1300 times greater than that of Vesta.
Friday, February 3, 2012: Galaxy NGC 2217 swirls in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). A distinctive bar of stars within an oval ring anchors…Read More »
the galaxy centrally. Further from the center, tightly wound spiral arms almost form a circular ring around the galaxy. Astronomers classify NGC 2217 as a barred spiral galaxy, and it lies nearly face-on to us. The bluish outer spiral arms indicate the presence of hot, luminous, young stars, born from interstellar gas clouds. The central bulge and bar appear yellower, due to the presence of older stars. Dark lanes of cosmic dust block out some of the starlight in the galaxy's arms and central bulge. The majority of spiral galaxies in the local universe, including our own Milky Way, are thought to possess a bar of some kind.
Credit: NASA Kennedy Space Center (via Twitter @NASAKennedy)
Monday, February 6, 2012: NuSTAR, The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, will image the sky for the first time in the high energy X-ray (6-79 keV)…Read More »
region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our view of the universe in this spectral window has been limited previously. NuSTAR is scheduled to launch March 14, 2012, from an aircraft operating out of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Here, NuSTAR is seen undergoing a solar array illumination test. Image released via Twitter Feb. 3, 2012.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012: The East Coast of the United States glows at night, as seen from the International Space Station. This looks generally northeastwards…Read More »
with the Philadelphia-New York City-Boston corridor at bottom center. The western shoreline of Lake Ontario with Toronto lies on the left edge. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, gleams as the bright spot near the center. Atmospheric limb and light activity from the Aurora Borealis appear intertwined due to an optical illusion. Photo taken Jan. 29, 2012.
Thursday, February 9, 2012: On Jan. 27, 2012, a large X-class flare erupted from an active region on the sun, near the solar west limb. X-class flares…Read More »
represent the most powerful of all solar events. The X-ray telescope on Hinode spacecraft captured this image of the flare, showing an emission from plasma heated to greater than eight million degrees during the energy-release process of the flare.
Friday, February 10, 2012: Cassini spacecraft took this visible-light image of a crescent Enceladus with Saturn's rings on Jan. 4, 2012. Jets of water…Read More »
ice emanating from the south polar region of the moon gleam faintly here, appearing as a small white blur below the unseen south pole, down and to the right of the moon's crescent. (The image's contrast was enhanced to increase the visibility of the jets.)
Monday, February 13, 2012: The Hubble Space Telescope shows three galaxies in this image. Two, including the tilted galaxy at the bottom and the small…Read More »
galaxy at top center, show spiral arms around a bright nucleus, like our own Milky Way galaxy. However, Markarian 779, the galaxy at the top of this image, possesses a distorted appearance, likely the product of a recent galactic merger between two spirals. This collision destroyed the spiral arms of the galaxies and scattered much of their gas and dust. Image released February 6, 2012.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012: NGC 6752 globular cluster has blazed for over 10 billion years as one of the most ancient collections of stars known. It has…Read More »
existed over twice as long as our solar system. NGC 6752 contains a high number of "blue straggler" stars, the origin of which remains a mystery. These stars display characteristics of stars younger than their neighbors. Collisions between stars in this turbulent area could produce the blue stragglers that are so prevalent. NGC 6752 lies 13,000 light-years from Earth.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012: A very long filament remained stable above the sun over a two-day period, Feb. 6-7, 2012. The filament appears here in this…Read More »
extreme UV light image taken by the STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft as the darker U-shaped strand, curving down from left of the top down toward the center, then back up to the right. The cooler material in the filament doesn't emit radiation at this wavelength, unlike its hotter surroundings in the corona, thus appearing dark. (The T-shaped structure to the left of the filament is a coronal hole.)
Thursday, February 16, 2012: Saturn and its moon, Dione, appear tilted in this photo taken by Cassini spacecraft. Looking at the anti-Saturn side of Dione,…Read More »
north is up and 20 degrees to the right. Saturn’s rings are seen from the northern, sunlit side, only one degree above the ring plane. The image was taken on Dec. 12, 2011, from a distance of approximately 35,000 miles (57,000 kilometers) from Dione.
Friday, February 17, 2012: The European Space Agency’s new Vega rocket seems to glow eerily in this low-angle shot as it begins to rise from the launch…Read More »
pad on its maiden voyage from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana. Vega flight VV01 lifted off at 10:00 GMT (11:00 CET, 07:00 local time) on February 13, 2012, and conducted a flawless qualification flight.
Monday, February 20, 2012: Today marks the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s historic orbital flight in the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" capsule, which…Read More »
took place on Feb. 20, 1962. Here, the space pioneer stands with his wife, Annie, at a Senior Manager luncheon, Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Annie's 92nd birthday fell on Friday as well.
Thursday, February 23, 2012: Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov, both Expedition 30 flight engineers, went spacewalking on Thursday,…Read More »
Feb. 16, 2012. The two men made the trip outside in order to move the Strela-1 crane from the Pirs Docking Compartment to prepare it for replacement in 2012 with a new laboratory and docking module. The duo used another boom, the Strela-2, to move the hand-operated crane to the Poisk module. Both telescoping booms are used to move massive components outside the station. The spacewalk lasted for six hours and 15 minutes.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012: Skywatcher Cliff Wassmann of Laguna Beach, CA, caught Jupiter, Venus and the moon over the pier at San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, Feb. 23.
— Tom Chao
21 of 22
Clouds Roll By
Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum
Wednesday, February 29, 2012: Dark nebula SH2 136 usually seems spooky when viewed in subdued colors, but here appears vibrant in a photo taken by the…Read More »
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The star-formation region has spent its material creating new stars, which blow away clouds of residual material through the stellar winds of fast moving particles. Interesting silhouettes and reflection nebulae arise! Groovy, man!