Image of the Day: June 2011

Under a Blood Red Moon

George Tucker

Thursday, June 16, 2011: The moon turned a blood red over the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge on NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia in this stunning photo taken by skywatcher George Tucker on June 15, 2011.

—Tom Chao

Birds of a Feather

Mark Greenberg/VirginGalactic

Friday, June 17, 2011: Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo mothership carrying SpaceShipTwo flew alongside Virgin America’s Airbus A320, named "My Other Ride Is a Spaceship," to inaugurate San Francisco International Airport (SFO)'s new Terminal 2 on April 6, 2011. SpaceShipTwo is a rocket-powered space plane intended to eventually take passengers to sub-orbital space.

—Tom Chao


ESO/S. Guisard

Monday, June 20, 2011: Large cacti appear to point at the sky in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The Milky Way dominates the image, with the Large Magellanic Cloud in the lower right. These cacti (Echinopsis atacamensis) grow on average 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) per year, and reach heights of up to 30 feet (9 meters). These particular plants are found on the winding road connecting ESO's Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Operation Support Facility to the Array Operation Site at ESO, at an altitude of about 11,500 feet (3500 meters).

—Tom Chao

My Curiosity's Got Me Tonight


Tuesday, June 21, 2011: The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, stands inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The photograph was taken during mobility testing on June 3, 2011. Workers continue preparing to ship the rover to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in June for its fall 2011 launch.

—Tom Chao

Assembly of Sky Forms

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Wednesday, June 22, 2011: Three of Saturn's moons appear in a somber group portrait along with the northern, sunlit ringplane. Rhea (949 miles or 1,528 kilometers across) is closest to Cassini spacecraft, which took the photograph, and appears largest at the center of the image. Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) is to the right of Rhea. Dione (698 miles or 1,123 kilometers across) is to the left of Rhea, partly obscured by Saturn. Saturn is present on the left of this image but its night side is too dark to see.

—Tom Chao

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Thursday, June 23, 2011: Spiral galaxy NGC 7479 displays tightly wound arms of the spiral galaxy spinning in an anticlockwise direction, in this Hubble Space Telescope photograph. However, at radio wavelengths, this galaxy (sometimes nicknamed the Propeller Galaxy) spins the other way, with a jet of radiation bending in the opposite direction of the stars and dust in the arms of the galaxy. Astronomers think that the radio jet in NGC 7479 began its bizarre backwards spin following a merger with another galaxy.

—Tom Chao

Center of Attention

NASA/Kim Shiflett

Friday, June 24, 2011: The STS-135 crew members speak to the media at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A in Florida. Commander Chris Ferguson holds a microphone as Pilot Doug Hurley (red cap), along with Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim, look on. Space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts are at Kennedy for a launch countdown dress rehearsal called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) and other training. Atlantis and its crew are scheduled to lift off July 8, 2011, carrying the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module to the International Space Station. STS-135 will be the 33rd flight of Atlantis, the 37th shuttle mission to the space station, and the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.

—Tom Chao

The Elephant's Graveyard

ASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

Monday, June 27, 2011: NASA’s Wide-field Survey Explorer (WISE) took this image of the Elephant’s Trunk nebula, showing clouds of dust and gas pushed and eroded by a massive star. The bright ‘trunk’ of the nebula near the center is an especially dense cloud holding up against the star’s powerful radiation and stellar wind. Other "elephant trunk" structures exist in other nebulae, but this is the only nebula that uses the term in its moniker. More distant examples of elephant trunks can be seen in LBN 211.91-01.37 and the Soul nebula.

—Tom Chao

I'm on Fire


Tuesday, June 28, 2011: Sandra Olson, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center, demonstrates just how fire acts differently in space through her art. She overlaid three separate microgravity flame images in this artwork. Each image depicts flame spread over cellulose paper in a spacecraft ventilation flow in microgravity. The different colors represent different chemical reactions within the flame. The blue areas are caused by chemiluminescence (light produced by a chemical reaction.) The white, yellow and orange regions get their colors from glowing soot within the flame zone. This image won first place in the 2011 Combustion Art Competition, held at the 7th U.S. National Combustion Meeting.

—Tom Chao

The Sun Also Rises

NASA/Jim Grossmann

Wednesday, June 29, 2011: The sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, illuminating space shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters on Launch Pad 39A. Launch is scheduled to take place for the STS-135 mission on July 8, 2011. This image was taken on June 23, 2011.

—Tom Chao

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