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LIFTOFF! Today at 8:29 a.m. EDT, we launched our next communications satellite, named the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M). This satellite will join a fleet in space that helps us with global communications for more than 40 of our missions. From the beautiful images we receive from the Hubble Space Telescope, to communicating with astronauts on the International Space Station, the TDRS network helps facilitate the work we do at NASA.
With the launch of TDRS-M, the lifespan of our Space Network will be extended for another 15 years or more. Seen here as it leaves Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41 in Florida, the Atlas V rocket safely delivered the satellite in orbit.
Credit: NASA #nasa#space#satellite#tdrsm#communications#launch#liftoff#kennedy#kennedyspacecenter#capecanaveral#ula#spacecraft#orbit#launchpad
‘Twas the night before launch…sitting atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, is our next communications satellite ready for Friday’s 8:03 a.m. EDT launch to space. The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M, or TDRS-M, will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida tomorrow and is the latest addition to join our space communications network.
In spaceflight, communication is crucial. Whether it's the International Space Station linking to the Mission Control Center at our Johnson Space Center or interstellar images being transmitted to Earth by the Hubble Space Telescope, the vital link is our Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system. With tomorrow’s launch, this network’s lifespan will be extended by 15 years or more.
CREDIT: United Launch Alliance (ULA) #nasa#spacecommunications#hubble#spacestation#trackinganddatarelaysatellite#satellitecommunications#satellite#astronomy#spaceexploration#solarsystem
Clouds on Saturn take on the appearance of strokes from a cosmic brush thanks to the wavy way that fluids interact in the planet's atmosphere.
Neighboring bands of clouds move at different speeds and directions depending on their latitudes. This generates turbulence where bands meet and leads to the wavy structure along the interfaces. Saturn’s upper atmosphere generates the faint haze seen along the limb of the planet in this image. Now 20 years since launching from Earth, and after 13 years orbiting the ringed planet and its moons, our Cassini mission prepares for its ‘Grand Finale’ on September 15, when the mission will end with a purposeful plunge into Saturn this year in order to protect and preserve the planet's moons for future exploration – especially the potentially habitable Enceladus.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute #nasa#cassini#saturn#clouds#spaceexploration#solarsystem#science#astronomy#picoftheday#planet
After launching on Monday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Dragon has journeyed to the International Space Station (@iss). It arrives to the space station Wednesday, Aug. 16. Astronaut Jack Fischer (@astro2fish) shared this image of the robotic arm on space station saying "The arm is out and ready to capture a @SpaceX Dragon by the tail. Can’t wait to get to work on 2 tons of science!" The flight will deliver investigations and instruments that study cosmic ray particles, protein crystal growth, stem cell-mediated recellularization and a nanosateliite technology demonstration. The vehicle also will deliver supplies and equipment to crew members living aboard the station.
In all, 6,400 pounds of experiments and supplies will arrive when Astronauts Jack Fischer of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency - @europeanspaceagency) use the station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon on Wednesday morning.
Cool starburst and a pretty planet. From 250 miles above planet Earth, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer peered outside his home on the International Space Station and caught this view. He posted the image to social media on Aug. 9 saying, “Tried new lens & snapped a lucky pic as sun ducked behind space station – that’s a cool starburst, & a pretty planet we have! #EarthShapes”
Tomorrow, we’re launching science and cargo to the space station (@iss) aboard SpaceX’s #Dragon cargo vehicle. Liftoff is currently scheduled for 12:31 p.m. EDT from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Six people are currently living and working on this microgravity laboratory that orbits our planet at 17,500 miles per hour. They are conducting research that will not only help us venture farther into our solar system, but also has direct benefits to life here on Earth.
Credit: NASA #nasa#space#spacestation#star#starburst#earth#view#bluemarble#astro2fish#microgravity#research#science
This is a dwarf spiral galaxy named NGC 5949. Thanks to its proximity to Earth — it sits at a distance of around 44 million light-years from us, placing it within the Milky Way’s cosmic neighborhood — NGC 5949 is a perfect target for astronomers to study dwarf galaxies.
With a mass of about a hundredth that of the Milky Way, NGC 5949 is a relatively bulky example of a dwarf galaxy. Its classification as a dwarf is due to its relatively small number of constituent stars, but the galaxy’s loosely-bound spiral arms also place it in the category of barred spirals. This structure is just visible in this Hubble Space Telescope image, which shows the galaxy as a bright yet ill-defined pinwheel. Despite its small proportions, NGC 5949’s proximity has meant that its light can be picked up by fairly small telescopes, something that facilitated its discovery by the astronomer William Herschel in 1801.
Discovered more than 100 years ago, this glowing nebula is a small galaxy about 2.2 million light years from Earth. Known as the “starburst” galaxy IC 10, referring to the intense star formation activity occurring there, observations from our Chandra X-Ray Observatory that span a decade, have found the galaxy is home to over a dozen black holes and neutron stars feeding off gas from young, massive stellar companions.
Starburst galaxies like this are excellent places to search for double star systems (aka X-ray binaries) because they are churning out stars rapidly. Many of these newly born stars will be pairs of young and massive stars. The most massive of the pair will evolve more quickly and leave behind a black hole or a neutron star partnered with the remaining massive star. If the separation of the stars is small enough, an X-ray binary system will be produced.
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass Lowell/S. Laycock et al.; Optical: Bill Synder Astrophotography
Solar déjà vu. The large sunspot that rotated out of view about two weeks ago has returned. Though much reduced in size, it did blast a good-sized coronal mass ejection about a week ago on the far side of the Sun.
It was showing off numerous magnetic loops and arches above it as it came into view. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one for more solar activity. Sunspots can last from days to months, so for it to return again is not an unusual event.
What’s up for August? On August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse across the United States. If you are in the path of totality, you’ll get to see the rare site of a total eclipse. Others, not in the narrow path, will see a partial eclipse. Everyone watching should make sure to protect their eyes. Discover all the ways you can safely view this month’s eclipse.
Credit: NASA #nasa#space#eclipse#eclipse2017#sun#moon#earth#planets#safety#watch#august#solarsystem
The thin silver of Saturn’s moon Prometheus lurks near ghostly structures in Saturn’s narrow F ring in this view from our Cassini spacecraft. Many of the narrow ring’s faint and wispy features result from its gravitational interactions with Prometheus.
Most of the small moon’s surface is in darkness due to the viewing geometry here. Cassini was positioned behind Saturn and Prometheus with respect to the Sun, looking toward the moon’s dark side and just a bit of the moon’s sunlit northern hemisphere.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute #nasa#space#cassini#spacecraft#saturn#planet#solarsystem#moon#prometheus#ghostly#rings#picoftheday
The warm glow of the Sun reflects off the International Space Station’s solar panels with a warm orange hue in this image captured by NASA astronaut Jack Fischer. He shared this picture on social media saying, “Sometimes you look out the window and it just takes your breath away from how beautiful Earth is. Today is one of those times…#EarthShapes.” Currently, there are 6 people living and working on the space station, conducting important science and research. The orbiting laboratory is located 250 miles above Earth and is traveling at 17,500 miles per hour! At any given time, the station is home to more than 250 experiments, including somet that are helping us determine the effects of microgravity on the human body. Research on the station will not only help us send humans deeper into space than ever before, including to Mars, but also benefits life here on Earth.
For nearly two weeks in July, the Sun put on a show. Beginning July 5, our Solar Dynamics Observatory watched a sunspot — an area of intense and complex magnetic fields — rotate into view. The satellite continued to track the region as it grew and eventually rotated across the Sun and out of view on July 17.
With their complex magnetic fields, sunspots are often the source of interesting solar activity. During its 13-day trip across the face of the Sun, the active region — dubbed AR12665 — put on a show for our Sun-watching satellites, producing several solar flares, a coronal mass ejection and a solar energetic particle event.
Image Credit: NASA #nasa#sun#sunspot#solaractivity#space#exploration#solarsystem#sdo#solardynamicsobservatory#magneticfield#satellite
Five years ago today, at 10:32 p.m. PDT (Aug. 6 EDT), our Curiosity rover landed on the Red Planet. The mission team exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover's touchdown using a new "sky crane" landing method. Transmissions at the speed of light took nearly 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, which that day were about 154 million miles (248 million kilometers) apart.
The mission accomplished its main goal in less than a year, before reaching the mountain. It determined that an ancient lake environment on this part of Mars offered the conditions needed for life -- fresh water, other key chemical ingredients and an energy source.
With higher destinations ahead, Curiosity will continue exploring how this habitable world changed through time.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS #nasa#space#rover#mars#marscuriosity#curiosity#redplanet#fiveyears#landing#exploration#laboratory
Three interacting galaxies have reshaped this celestial object into a bizarre and beautiful configuration known as Hockey Stick Galaxy. The reason for this is a little unclear from this partial view, which shows the bright central region, but the galaxy is actually shaped like an elongated, warped stick, stretching out through space until it curls around at one end to form a striking image of a celestial hockey stick.
This unusual shape is thought to be due to an interaction between a couple of nearby galaxies. Galactic interactions can completely reshape a celestial object, shifting and warping its constituent gas, stars and dust.
Dominating Jupiter’s cloudscape in this Juno spacecraft image is the third largest anticyclonic oval on the planet, its 3,700 miles long! This is a long-lived storm named North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1 (NN-LRS-1) and has been tracked at least since 1993. An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon where winds around the storm flow in the direction opposite to that of the flow around a region of low pressure.
The color varies between red and off-white (as it is now), but this JunoCam image shows that it still has a pale reddish core within the radius of maximum wind speeds.
Our pale blue dot, planet Earth, is seen in this video captured by NASA astronaut Jack Fischer (@astro2fish) from his unique vantage point on the International Space Station (@iss). From 250 miles above our home planet, this time-lapse imagery takes us over the Pacific Ocean’s moon glint and above the night lights of San Francisco, CA. The thin hue of our atmosphere is visible surrounding our planet with a majestic white layer of clouds sporadically seen underneath.
The International Space Station is currently home to 6 people who are living and working in microgravity. As it orbits our planet at 17,500 miles per hour, the crew onboard is conducting important research that benefits life here on Earth.
Good old summer time…on Saturn! Continuous sunshine is abundant in Saturn’s northern heisphere during its summer solstice, which took place on May 24. The Cassini mission used this unparalleled opportunity to observe changes that occur on the planet as the Saturnian seasons turn.
This view was acquired at a distance of approximately 733,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on April 17 using a spectral filter.
The Cassini mission is currently performing its Grand Finale, where it is exploring the area between Saturn and its rings…a space where no other spacecraft has gone before! The spacecraft will make a total of 22 dives before it eventually dives into the planet itself in September.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute #nasa#space#cassini#saturn#grandfinale#solarsystem#planet#spacecraft#picoftheday#blackandwhite#solstice#summersolstice#summer
What’s up for August? A total solar eclipse across the continental United States, and you can help us collect scientific data during this solar event! The eclipse, happening on August 21, will be visible throughout North America. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the Sun and the Sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the Sun’s disk.
Looking directly at the Sun is unsafe, so plan to protect your eyes during this solar event. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Watch for more information about the eclipse and how you can help us collect data during this solar event!
Credit: NASA #nasa#space#eclipse#eclipse2017#sun#moon#earth#totality#charleston#oregon#southcarolina#salem#pathoftotality#whatsup#astronomy#partialeclipse#totaleclipse#safety#howtowatch
Sixteen sunrises a day! That's what you get aboard the International Space Station (@ISS). In this image, sunrise peeks through the station's solar-arrays, which generate power for the station and its more than 250 experiments.
Currently, there is a six-person crew living and working aboard the orbital platform. The station’s experiments include some that are helping us determine the effects of microgravity on the human body. Research on the station will not only help us send humans deeper into space than ever before, including to Mars, but also benefits life here on Earth.
Image Credit: NASA #nasa#spaceexploration#spacestation#internationalspacestation#solararrays#sun#solarsystem#astronautphotography#sunrise#science#astronomy
What's up in the night sky?Look up tonight as we have two good meteor showers to end this month. Both showers peak on the morning of July 30. The southern Delta Aquarids have a maximum rate of 25 meteors per hour between midnight and dawn. Meanwhile, the Alpha Capricornids peak at 5 per hour and often produce fireballs.
Credit: NASA #space#nasa#meteorshower#astronomy#solarsystem#meteors#nightsky
Astronaut Jack Fischer (@Astro2Fish) on the International Space Station (@ISS) shared this image of a Soyuz spacecraft over the Earth this morning saying "Welcome aboard" to 3 new crewmates. NASA’s Randy Bresnik (@astrokomrade), Sergei Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency (@europeanspaceagency) arrived at the station after launching Friday at 11:41 a.m. ET, orbiting Earth four times over a six-hour spaceflight, and docking at 5:54 p.m. ET Friday. With the arrival of three new crew, the space station is now home to six humans living and working in space who continue important scientific research in the orbiting laboratory.
Aboard the International Space Station (@ISS), astronaut Jack Fisher (@Astro2Fish) “spied this cool view through the Japanese Airlock,” which gives astronauts the “great capability…to pass science in & out to space!” Part of the Japanese pressurized module called Kibo, which means "hope" in Japanese, the scientific airlock allows experiments to be transferred and exposed to the external environment of space. Items positioned on the exterior platform outside the airlock focus on Earth observation as well as communication, scientific, engineering and materials science experiments.
The interior of Kibo is maintained at one atmosphere of pressure, providing the crew a suitable working environment for activities such as experiments, robotic operations, voice communications with the ground, and checkout or maintenance activities. The airlock in Kibo is not designed for the entry or exit of crew members during spacewalks.
Image Credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik (@astrokomrade), Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli are slated to launch to the International Space Station (@ISS) at 11:41 a.m. EDT on Friday aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, shown here in a black and white infrared view after it was raised into a vertical position on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The crew will spend more than four months aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in December.
You can watch launch live at: www.nasa.gov/live
Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky) #nasa#space#astronauts#spacestation#internationalspacestation#randybresnik#soyuz
Numerous arches of magnetic field lines danced and swayed above a large active region on the Sun over about a 30-hour period on July 17-18, 2017. We can also see the magnetic field lines from the large active region reached out and connected with a smaller active region. Those linked lines then strengthened (become brighter), but soon began to develop a kink in them and rather swiftly faded from view. All of this activity is driven by strong magnetic forces associated with the active regions. The images were taken in extreme ultraviolet light.
Phobos photobombs Hubble’s look at Mars! When the Hubble Space Telescope observed Mars near opposition in May 2016, a sneaky companion photobombed the picture. Phobos, the Greek personification of fear, is one of two tiny moons orbiting Mars. In 13 exposures over 22 minutes, Hubble captured a timelapse of Phobos moving through its 7-hour 39-minute orbit.
This timelapse video captures a portion of the path that tiny Phobos takes around Mars. The transitions between frames have been smoothed to illustrate continuous motion. Phobos completes an orbit in just 7 hours and 39 minutes, which is faster than Mars rotates. Rising in the Martian west, it runs three laps around the Red Planet in the course of one Martian day, which is about 24 hours and 40 minutes. It is the only natural satellite in the solar system that circles its planet in a time shorter than the parent planet’s day. Hubble photographed Phobos orbiting the Red Planet on May 12, 2016, when Mars was 50 million miles from Earth. This was just a few days before the planet passed closer to Earth in its orbit than it had in the past 11 years.
Tucked away in a small constellation around 30 million light-years from us is this relatively dim, low-star-forming galaxy. While it is not all that remarkable, it is still a beautiful and ethereal sight.
At this distance from Earth, actually not all that far on a cosmic scale, this galaxy is visible to anyone armed with even a basic telescope, as British astronomer William Herschel found when he discovered it in 1788.
This image shows the galaxy’s bright center and the surrounding dimmer and more diffuse “fuzz.” Despite appearing to be relatively bright in this image, studies have found that this galaxy is actually dim.