Image of the Day: May 2011

By the Beautiful Sea

NASA/Jim Grossmann

Monday, May 16, 2011: Bonus Image of the Day! Space shuttle Endeavour lifts off beside the seaside at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour began its final flight, the STS-134 mission, to the International Space Station at 8:56 a.m. EDT on May 16, 2011.

—Tom Chao

It's Only Wafer-Thin

Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA

Tuesday, May 17, 2011: This image taken by the Cassini spacecraft highlights the thinness of Saturn's rings, only about one kilometer thick. Saturn's moon Titan looms over the thin rings, while the smaller moon Enceladus appears very tiny on the far right.

—Tom Chao

You Know You Cast a Long Shadow on the Ground

Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Wednesday, May 18, 2011: Opportunity rover on Mars looks away from the sun into Endurance Crater and sees its shadow. The image shows two wheels on the lower left and right, with the floor and walls of the unusual crater in the background. Although the companion Spirit rover has gotten stuck, Opportunity still continues on its long trek to expansive Endeavor crater.

—Tom Chao

Pig (and Bear and Chicken) on the Wing

Camilla Corona SDO

Thursday, May 19, 2011: Three intrepid modern-day Montgolfiers launched aboard the BTS-1 (Balloon Transport System) on May 8, 2011, making a near-space trip from Houston, TX, to the swamps of Louisiana. The three travelers, (L to R in inset) Camilla Corona SDO, Skye Bleu, and Fuzz Aldrin, rode aboard the "Inspiration" engineering module to an altitude of approximately 87,000 feet. The flight raised awareness of space education and peace, organized by Bears on Patrol, a nonprofit organization based in Carrollton, Georgia. Rescuers from Sabine Wildlife Refuge could not locate the brave explorers for five days, but finally found them. Ironically, the Inspiration capsule has gone missing during return delivery by Fedex.

—Tom Chao

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and Joe DePasquale

Friday, May 20, 2011: Nebula NGC 3582 contains giant loops of gas that resemble solar prominences. Researchers think dying stars ejected the loops, but this stellar nursery also produces new stars. The young stars emit ultraviolet radiation that causes the gas in the nebula to glow, producing the fiery display. To make this image, Joe DePasquale combined a variety of datasets acquired by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

—Tom Chao

You Don't Know the Shape I'm in

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Monday, May 23, 2011: Astronomers class UGC 9128, shown here, as a dwarf irregular galaxy, It lacks a well-defined shape, and probably contains only around one hundred million stars, far fewer than are found in a large spiral galaxy such as the Milky Way. UGC 9128 lies about 8 million light-years away, in the constellation of Boötes (The Herdsman).

—Tom Chao

Rapture Riders


Tuesday, May 24, 2011:The docked space shuttle Endeavour floats above Earth's horizon and black space in this image photographed by an STS-134 crew member onboard the International Space Station, May 21, 2011 (Flight Day 6). That day had been predicted as the date of the Christian rapture, but by the time of this writing, that event had not yet taken place.

—Tom Chao

I'm the Antenna, Catching Vibration


Wednesday, May 25, 2011: Japan has provided the first of twelve 7-meter antennas to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory in Chile. ALMA will have an array of fifty antennas with 12-meter diameter dishes. The 7-meter antenna is seen here at the ALMA Operations Support Facility (OSF), at an altitude of 2900 meters in the foothills of the Chilean Andes. Later it will be moved to the plateau of Chajnantor at a 5000-meter altitude.

—Tom Chao

Obscured by Clouds

NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

Thursday, May 26, 2011: Star cluster NGC 2259 usually appears in visible light as a group of stars loosely clustered. However, in the infrared light captured by the WISE spacecraft, nearby gas and dust clouds emerge, blocking the view of the cluster. In the image, NGC 2259 lies in the bluish area to the left of the brightest star on the right side.

—Tom Chao

Find Myself a City to Live in

NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

Friday, May 27, 2011: This image taken by the Expedition 27 crew aboard the International Space Station shows the Atlantic Seaboard Conurbation (ASC). A conurbation refers to a region comprised of cities, towns, and urban areas that have merged together. This image shows all of the ASC except for Boston, Mass. At upper right lies New York City, N.Y., then to the left appears Philadelphia, Pa., Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C. On the left-hand border lies Richmond, Va., with Norfolk, Va. near at the bottom, although neither is included in the ASC.

—Tom Chao

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