astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Apollo 12 Visits Surveyor 3

Apollo 12 was the second mission to land humans on the Moon. The landing site was picked to be near the location of Surveyor 3, a robot spacecraft that had landed on the Moon three years earlier. In the featured photograph, taken by lunar module pilot Alan Bean, mission commander Pete Conrad jiggles the Surveyor spacecraft to see how firmly it is situated. The lunar module is visible in the distance. Apollo 12 brought back many photographs and moon rocks. Among the milestones achieved by Apollo 12 was the deployment of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, which carried out many experiments including one that measured the solar wind. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181022.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Halo of the Cat s Eye

Not a Falcon 9 rocket launch after sunset, the Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is one of the best known planetary nebulae in the sky. Its haunting symmetries are seen in the very central region of this composited picture, processed to reveal an enormous but extremely faint halo of gaseous material, over three light-years across. Made with data from ground- and space-based telescopes it shows the extended emission which surrounds the brighter, familiar planetary nebula. Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a sun-like star. But only more recently have some planetaries been found to have halos like this one, likely formed of material shrugged off during earlier active episodes in the star’s evolution. While the planetary nebula phase is thought to last for around 10,000 years, astronomers estimate the outer filamentary portions of this halo to be 50,000 to 90,000 years old. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181020.html
astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Cherenkov Telescope at Sunset

On October 10, a new telescope reflected the light of the setting Sun. With dark horizon above and sunset colors below, its segmented mirror inverts an image of the beautiful evening sky in this snapshot from the Roque del Los Muchachos Observatory on the Canary Island of La Palma. The mirror segments cover a 23 meter diameter and are mounted in the open structure of the Large Scale Telescope 1, inaugurated as the first component of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). Most ground-based telescopes are hindered by the atmosphere that blurs, scatters, and absorbs light. But cherenkov telescopes are designed to detect very high energy gamma rays and actually require the atmosphere to operate. As the gamma rays impact the upper atmosphere they produce air showers of high-energy particles. A large, fast camera at the common focus images the brief flashes of optical light, called Cherenkov light, created by the air shower particles. The flashes reveal the incoming gamma ray timing, direction, and energy. Ultimately more than 100 Cherenkov telescopes are planned for the CTA at locations in both northern and southern hemispheres on planet Earth. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181018.html
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NASA Invites Media to Northrop Grumman Cygnus Launch from Virginia

Media accreditation now is open for the launch from Virginia of Northrop Grumman’s 10th commercial resupply services mission to deliver NASA science investigations, supplies and equipment to the International Space Station aboard its Cygnus spacecraft.

from NASA
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-invites-media-to-northrop-grumman-cygnus-launch-from-virginia
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NASA to Host Briefings, Events for ICON Launch to Study Space Weather

NASA will host a series of media briefings leading up to the Friday, Oct. 26, launch of its Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission to study the dynamic zone high in the atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above.

from NASA
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-host-briefings-events-for-icon-launch-to-study-space-weather
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astronomy, NASA, photos, space

M15: Dense Globular Star Cluster

Messier 15 is an immense swarm of over 100,000 stars. A 13 billion year old relic of the early formative years of our galaxy it’s one of about 170 globular star clusters that still roam the halo of the Milky Way. Centered in this sharp telescopic view, M15 lies about 35,000 light years away toward the constellation Pegasus, well beyond the spiky foreground stars. Its diameter is about 200 light-years. But more than half its stars are packed into the central 10 light-years or so, one of the densest concentrations of stars known. Hubble-based measurements of the increasing velocities of M15’s central stars are evidence that a massive black hole resides at the center of dense globular cluster M15. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181017.html
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New NASA Podcast Shares ‘Invisible’ Stories of Spaceflight

Today, NASA released a new, limited-edition podcast called The Invisible Network, the first NASA podcast to embrace narrative storytelling. All six episodes can be downloaded and binged on NASA’s website, SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

from NASA
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/new-nasa-podcast-shares-invisible-stories-of-spaceflight
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astronomy, NASA, photos, space

Jupiter in Ultraviolet from Hubble

Jupiter looks a bit different in ultraviolet light. To better interpret Jupiter’s cloud motions and to help NASA’s robotic Juno spacecraft understand the planetary context of the small fields that it sees, the Hubble Space Telescope is being directed to regularly image the entire Jovian giant. The colors of Jupiter being monitored go beyond the normal human visual range to include both ultraviolet and infrared light. Featured from 2017, Jupiter appears different in near ultraviolet light, partly because the amount of sunlight reflected back is distinct, giving differing cloud heights and latitudes discrepant brightnesses. In the near UV, Jupiter’s poles appear relatively dark, as does its Great Red Spot and a smaller (optically) white oval to the right. The String of Pearl storms farther to the right, however, are brightest in near ultraviolet, and so here appear (false-color) pink. Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede appears on the upper left. Juno continues on its looping 53-day orbits around Jupiter, while Earth-orbiting Hubble is now recovering from the loss of a stabilizing gyroscope. via NASA
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181016.html