Image of the Day: January 2013

So Begins the Task


Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013: Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, performs test actions in the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory on Jan. 2, 2013. Ground teams remotely commanded it to operate valves on a task board. Robonaut’s form and dexterity should allow it to use the same tools and control panels as its human counterparts do aboard the station.

— Tom Chao

Don’t Crush That Dwarf

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013: NGC 5477, a dwarf irregular galaxy in the Messier 101 group, contains bright nebulas of glowing hydrogen gas which will eventually give birth to new stars. Green and infrared filters change the pinkish red color of these gaseous clouds to near-white in this image. Hubble Space Telescope captured the galaxy on Jan. 7, 2013.

— Tom Chao

WhiteKnight Flight

Scott Glaser/Virgin Galactic

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013: Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, successfully completed its 100th test flight on October 4, 2012. That date marked the eighth anniversary of the X-Prize-winning flight of SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately built manned space vehicle. Workers are now fitting tanks and other elements of the propulsion system of SpaceShipTwo in preparation for supersonic, powered flight. Virgin Galactic is currently taking deposits from space tourists to hold seats on their planned future suborbital flights.

— Tom Chao

The Deep Sea of Clouds

NASA (via Flickr as NASA: 2Explore)

Friday, Jan. 18, 2013: The Expedition 34 crew members aboard the International Space Station captured this image of stratocumulus clouds above the northwestern Pacific Ocean about 460 miles east of northern Honshu, Japan, on Jan. 4, 2013. The cloud pattern represents a typical one for this part of the world.

— Tom Chao

It's a Family Affair

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Monday, Jan. 21, 2013: Saturn's small moons Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus faintly keep each other company in this image of the planet's night side. It’s a bit of a family reunion, since they were named after brothers in Greek mythology. Prometheus lies just inside the F ring at the top center of this image, while Epimetheus is farther from the rings, due right of Prometheus in this image. Atlas is between the A and F rings almost right below Epimetheus. All three are so small that they barely appear in this image. The image was taken by Cassini spacecraft on Sep. 19, 2012.

— Tom Chao

The Fate of Human Spaceflight Is in Our Hands

NASA/Bill Ingalls

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013: NASA astronauts Lee Morin, Alvin Drew, Kjell Lindgren, Serena Aunon, Kate Rubins, and Mike Massimino escort the Orion space capsule as they pass the presidential viewing stand and President Barack Obama. The White House stands in the background. The parade was part of the festivities surrounding the second inuaguration of President Obama on Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington, DC.

— Tom Chao

When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City

David Rodgers

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013: David Rodgers sent in his photo of the moon and Jupiter as he saw them in New York City on Jan 22, 2013. He wrote: “What makes the occasion so very special, truly once in a lifetime, is that the George Washington Bridge is only lit up on occasional holidays, perhaps 3 times a year. In this case, the conjunction took place on Monday, January 21, which also had the impossibly rare coincidence of being not only the Martin Luther King Day holiday, but also the Inauguration Day for President Obama's second term, hence the lighting being turned on. Usually the towers are dark!... [The picture was] taken from northern Manhattan, looking west over the Hudson River toward Ft. Lee, New Jersey. The George Washington Bridge is to the left, 12 blocks to the south. Time was between 2:50 and 3:00 AM on Tuesday morning, January 22. By this time, the moon had moved noticeably away from its closest point, when I first observed around 11:30 PM.... Jupiter is to the right of the moon. The bright star to the left of the moon is Aldebaran, in Taurus.... The constellation Orion is visible over the bridge on the left.”

— Tom Chao

Winter in the Firelands

SpaceX (via Twitter as @SpaceX)

Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013: Private spaceflight company SpaceX tweeted this photo on Jan. 4, 2013. The company wrote: "Winter skies over @SpaceX's Pad at Vandenberg" The first SpaceX launch from Vandenberg AFB’s new pad is scheduled for sometime in 2013.

— Tom Chao

See the World Spinning 'Round

ESO/F. Char

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013: One of the Unit Telescopes of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) stands beneath bright star trails appearing to circle the south celestial pole, lying in the southern constellation of Octans (The Octant). Many exposures were taken over time and combined to give the final appearance of circular tracks. Four Unit Telescopes (UTs) make up the VLT at Paranal, Chile. Each UT possesses a name in the language of the native Mapuche tribe. The names of the UTs — Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun — represent celestial objects: the sun, moon, the Southern Cross constellation and Venus, respectively. The UT in this photograph is Yepun, also known as UT4. Image released Jan. 7, 2013.

— Tom Chao

I've Got the Munchies in Space

Chris Hadfield (via Twitter @Cmdr_Hadfield)

Monday, Jan. 28, 2013: Commander Chris Hadfield, aboard the International Space Station, tweeted this image on Jan. 11, 2013. He wrote: "Variety is the Spice - corn chip, salsa, mushroom pate and jalapeno, floating weightless."

— Tom Chao

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Tom Chao
Tom Chao has contributed to as a producer and writer since 2000. As a writer and editor, he has worked for the Voyager Company, Time Inc. New Media, HarperCollins and Worth Publishers. He has a bachelor’s degree in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Tom on Google+.