Image of the Day: August 2012

Image of the Day Archives

NASA, ESA and Orsola De Marco (Macquarie University)

For older Image of the Day pictures, please visit the Image of the Day archives. Pictured: NGC 2467.

Red Cloud


Wednesday, August 1, 2012: A cloud of hydrogen gas called RCW 88 is located about ten thousand light-years away from Earth. The cloud stretches about nine light-years across. It is made of glowing hydrogen gas that surrounds recently formed stars. New stars form from clouds of this hydrogen gas as they collapse under their own gravity. Some of the more developed stars are already visible through the cloud.

— Tom Chao

The New Lander

NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Thursday, August 2, 2012: NASA's has set up the Morpheus lander, a vertical test bed vehicle, at its launch position along the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Morpheus will demonstrate new green propellant propulsion systems, autonomous landing and an Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology, or ALHAT, system. The SLF site will provide the lander with the kind of field necessary for realistic testing, being a rock and crater-filled plantary landscape. Image released July 31, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Sixty Seconds to Mars


Friday, August 3, 2012: NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is expected to land on August 6, 2012 at 1:31 am EDT. This artist's illustration envisions the descent stage with Curiosity rover below one minute before touching down on the surface. The descent stage's rockets will decelerate the spacecraft after initial slowing by atmospheric friction and a parachute. Just after the instant depicted here, a "sky crane" will lower the rover to the surface using a bridle.

— Tom Chao

Look into the Sun


Monday, August 6, 2012: NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars the evening of August 5, 2012, PDT (morning of August 6 EDT). It almost immediately began sending pictures back to Earth, this one taken taken with the left-rear Hazard-Avoidance camera. A wheel and dust-cover spring appear in the lower-right corner. Part of the rover’s power supply appears in the upper-right corner. The camera looks directly into the sun, causing the top of the image to wash out. Curiosity is expected to send higher-resolution images later in the week when its mast is deployed with more sophisticated cameras. [See 1st Photos of Mars by Curiosity Rover (Gallery).]

— Tom Chao

Some Say That's Progress


Tuesday, August 7, 2012: The Russian Progress 47 unpiloted cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for re-docking on July 28, 2012. The cargo ship temporarily undocked on July 22, 2012, to test the new Kurs-NA automated rendezvous system. A first attempt failed, but the craft re-docked on the second try. Some of the station’s solar array panels gleam in the foreground.

— Tom Chao



Wednesday, August 8, 2012: STEREO (Behind) spacecraft caught this large solar prominence in extreme UV light, rising and breaking apart as it flew off into space on July 27-28, 2012. Soon after that, an active region near the sun’s edge spurted at least 10 flares in rapid succession.

— Tom Chao

If There's a Bright Center

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Thursday, August 9, 2012: Adam Block photographed spiral galaxy NGC 5033 at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter of the University of Arizona. The galaxy lies approximately 50 million light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici. Astronomers classify it as a Seyfert galaxy, meaning it possesses an extremely bright nucleus, and spectra which have very bright emission lines of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and oxygen. Image obtained May 2012.

— Tom Chao

New Toy

Mark Chivers/VirginGalactic

Friday, August 10, 2012: Sir Richard Branson appears pleased as he holds up a model of Virgin Galatic's new air-launched satellite launch vehicle, LauncherOne, at its public introduction. He stands inside a full-sized replica of his company's SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle, intended for space tourism, at Farnborough International Airshow, Hampshire, England. Branson is the founder of Virgin Galactic. Photo taken on July 11, 2012.

— Tom Chao

Simply (Not) Red

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Monday, August 13, 2012: The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took this close-up of the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula. The bright wispy structures signal an environment rich in ionized hydrogen gas. In reality these appear red, but the various and filters and exposures of this image make the gas appear green. These regions contain recently formed stars emitting powerful ultraviolet radiation ionizing the gas around them.

— Tom Chao

Take Me Down to California

Robb Rosenfeld

Tuesday, August 14, 2012: Night sky watcher Robb Rosenfeld took this photograph of a Perseid meteor with Venus, Jupiter, and the moon. He caught the scene on August 12, 2012, in Joshua Tree National Park, located in southern California east of Los Angeles.

— Tom Chao

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