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Image of the Day: February 2012

Tilt

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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, 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.

— Tom Chao

Maiden Voyage

ESA/S. Corvaja

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 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.

— Tom Chao

50 Years Later and Still Going Strong

NASA

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 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.

— Tom Chao

Are 'Friends' Electric?

NASA

Tuesday, February 21, 2012: The historic first handshake between a human and a robot in space took place aboard the International Space Station on Feb. 15, 2012. Robonaut 2, nicknamed “R2,” extended its arm and shook hands with NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, in the Destiny laboratory of the ISS.

— Tom Chao

Break Me Off a Piece of That

ESA/NASA/SOHO

Wednesday, February 22, 2012: A solar eruption and large cloud of particles blasted into space over a 10-hour period during Feb. 9-10, 2012. The orange-colored sun viewed in extreme UV light shows a filament that broke away from the sun to the right. The sun's image here was superimposed on the COR1 coronagraph (green). [See a video of the eruption.]

— Tom Chao

Hanging Around

NASA

Thursday, February 23, 2012: Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov, both Expedition 30 flight engineers, went spacewalking on Thursday, 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.

— Tom Chao

A Pale Gleaming

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Friday, February 24, 2012: Messier 99 (M99, NGC 4254), a spiral galaxy seen almost face-on, gleams as one of the fainter Messier objects. M99 lies in the southern part of constellation Coma Berenices, and represents one of the brighter spiral members of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies.

— Tom Chao

Aurora to the MAX

CSA/University of Calgary/Astronomy North

Monday, February 27, 2012: AuroraMAX, the automated aurora-monitoring camera, recently caught this aurora and tweeted (as @AuroraMAX): “AURORAMAX ALERT • Latest image of aurora borealis above Yellowknife, NWT taken at 01:09 MST on February 13, 2012.”

— Tom Chao

We Watched the Sunset at San Clemente

Cliff Wassmann

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

Clouds Roll By

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 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!

— Tom Chao

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