Image of the Day: May 2012

Back to Earth

NASA/Carla Cioffi

Tuesday, May 1, 2012: A Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft returning Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank, and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin touches down in a remote area outside of the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on Friday, April 27, 2012. NASA astronaut Burbank, Russian cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Ivanishin were returning from more than five months onboard the International Space Station, where they served as members of the Expedition 29 and 30 crews.

— Tom Chao

Screaming Yellow Chicken!

Earth to Sky — Bishop, CA

Wednesday, May 2, 2012: Camilla Corona SDO, mascot of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, went on another of her amazing adventures, this time flying to the edge of space in March 2012, during the most intense radiation storm since 2003. Camilla flew with the aid of a balloon sent up by Bishop Union High School's Earth to Sky student group in Bishop, California. Camilla, the plucky adventurer, reached an altitude of 120,000 ft where she was exposed to high-energy solar protons. While it might look like Camilla is shrieking in terror, it’s all right — she always looks like that.

— Tom Chao

The Dust Blows


Thursday, May 3, 2012: Astronomers discovered an aging star blowing a lot of dust (orange dot at upper left) using images from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) in 2010. The newfound dusty star, called WISE J180956.27–330500.2, was not seen by an all-sky survey in 1983, but astronomers report the star has brightened by a factor of 100 since then. Stars like our sun age in this way, expanding into red giants and shedding dust later incorporated into new stars, planets, and in our solar system, living beings. Image released April 26, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Crack that Wisp

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Friday, May 4, 2012: Saturn's moon Dione appears to possess an area of wispy terrain at the lower left of this Cassini image. Actually, fractures on the trailing hemisphere of Dione cause the wispy appearance. The image was taken on Dec. 20, 2010, at a distance of approximately 67,000 miles (107,000 kilometers) from Dione. North is up.

— Tom Chao

Close Encounters of the AEHF-2 Kind

United Launch Alliance

Monday, May 7, 2012: Looking like a scene from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” dramatic backlight illuminates a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex-41 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket successfully launched the Air Force's Advanced Extremely High Frequency 2 satellite (AEHF 2) satellite on May 4, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Ten Years After

NASA/Bill Ingalls

Tuesday, May 8, 2012: Aqua satellite lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 4, 2002. Ten years later, it's far exceeded its expected three- to five-year mission. The six science instruments aboard the satellite have collected a remarkable 29 million gigabytes of data so far. Aqua satellite studies a broad range of natural hazards from severe storms to dust storms and haze to droughts and crop health. Aqua's MODIS instrument has detected more than 20 million actively burning fires to date. Researchers have published more than 2,000 papers based on Aqua data over the past decade.

— Tom Chao

Dark Shadows

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Wednesday, May 9, 2012: Cassini spacecraft swung by Saturn’s moon Janus on March 27, 2012. Deep shadows darken some of the moon’s large craters. The spacecraft got this shot at a distance of approximately 28,000 miles (45,000 kilometers) from Janus. Intriguingly, another moon of Saturn, Epimetheus, orbits close to Janus, and the two moons periodically change orbits, so that one becomes closer to Saturn, while the other floats further away.

— Tom Chao

We Sailed the South China Sea


Thursday, May 10, 2012: ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers took this photo of the Philippine archipelago while aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft which brought him to the station, a Soyuz TMA-03M, docks to the station at the left of this photo.

— Tom Chao

You're Tearing Me Apart

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Friday, May 11, 2012: Galaxy cluster Abell 1185 contains galaxies of various shapes and sizes drifting close to one another, putting each other at risk. Some galaxies have already been ripped apart in the maelstrom, spewing trails of matter. Abell 1185 is located approximately 400 million light-years away from Earth, and spans one million light-years. Image released April 30. 2012.

— Tom Chao


ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Monday, May 14, 2012: A computer-generated perspective view of Mars shows the transition between Acidalia Planitia and Tempe Terra regions. Researchers believe the foreground craters come from a younger phase in Mars history, judging from a lack of erosion and infilling seen in the background craters, considered to have once held liquid water.

— Tom Chao

She's So Cold

NASA/Chris Gunn

Tuesday, May 15, 2012: Components of the James Webb Space Telescope undergo testing in the thermal vacuum test chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Here, the Optical Telescope Element Simulator (OSIM), wrapped in a silver blanket on a platform, descends into the Space Environment Simulator vacuum chamber via crane to see if it will withstand the cold temperatures of space. Image released April 30, 2012.

— Tom Chao

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