Posted 1 day ago


intrepid: Earthrise, photographed from Apollo 12, November 1969.

5 Hasselblad photographs, taken from lunar orbit, between 18th and 21st November.

Image credit: NASA/JSC, c/o LPI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

Posted 1 day ago


Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins met with President President Barack Obama today to commemorate the 45th anniversary since mankind first set foot on the moon. Sadly, this is the first Apollo 11 celebration at the White House without the mission’s commander, Neil Armstrong, who died at the age of 82 in 2012. Armstrong’s widow, Carol, attended the meeting in his stead, reports NBC’s Alan Boyle.

Posted 1 day ago


LHA 120-N11 in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Nearly 200 000 light-years from Earth, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space, in a long and slow dance around our galaxy. As the Milky Way’s gravity gently tugs on its neighbour’s gas clouds, they collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a kaleidoscope of colours, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit: NASA, ESA. Acknowledgement: Josh Lake

Posted 1 day ago


Lagoon (M8) & Trifid (M20) Nebulae by Ted Dobosz on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
A wide angle view of the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae. Taken with the Canon 6D, ISO6400 consisting of 60 x 1 minute stacked exposures tracked on Losmandy mount. Taken through an explorer scientific 127mm refractor. Star elongation caused by poor polar alignment has been repaired with only slight artefacts in the final result. Some cropping to remove poorer shaped stars at edges.

Posted 1 day ago


Planet-naming competition could bring Gallifrey and Vulcan into existence

An artist’s impression of Kepler-186f. The International Astronomical Union wants to find more catchy names for exoplanets. Illustration: T. Pyle/AFP/Getty Images

Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine, Doctor Who’s place of origin Gallifrey, and Vulcan, where Spock spent his formative years, could all become real places around the universe if fans take up the opportunity to plug their favourite fictional locations in a competition to name newly discovered planets.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the world authority that names objects in space, is giving the public the chance to name up to 30 planets from a pre-selected group of 305 extrasolar planets or “exoplanets” – planets outside our solar system – discovered before 2009.

Read more

• Full regulations for the competition can be found here.

Posted 3 days ago

Front Hazcam, Sol 687


Front Hazcam, Sol 687

Posted 3 days ago


The Moon Eclipses Saturn | APOD
Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Di Nallo

Explanation: What happened to half of Saturn? Nothing other than Earth’s Moon getting in the way. As pictured above on the far right, Saturn is partly eclipsed by a dark edge of a Moon itself only partly illuminated by the Sun. This year the orbits of the Moon and Saturn have led to an unusually high number of alignments of the ringed giant behind Earth’s largest satellite. Technically termed an occultation, the above image captured one such photogenic juxtaposition from Buenos Aires, Argentina that occurred early last week. Visible to the unaided eye but best viewed with binoculars, there are still four more eclipses of Saturn by our Moon left in 2014. The next one will be on August 4 and visible from Australia, while the one after will occur on August 31 and be visible from western Africa at night but simultaneously from much of eastern North America during the day.

Posted 3 days ago


Titan’s Atmosphere

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found

Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. Much as with Venus prior to the Space Age, the dense, opaque atmosphere prevented understanding of Titan’s surface until new information accumulated with the arrival of the Cassini–Huygens mission in 2004, including the discovery of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in Titan’s polar regions.

The atmosphere is largely nitrogen; minor components lead to the formation of methane and ethane clouds and nitrogen-rich organic smog. Titan’s lower gravity means that its atmosphere is far more extended than Earth’s and about 1.19 times as massive. It supports opaque haze layers that block most visible light from the Sun and other sources and renders Titan’s surface features obscure. Atmospheric methane creates a greenhouse effect on Titan’s surface, without which Titan would be far colder. Conversely, haze in Titan’s atmosphere contributes to an anti-greenhouse effect by reflecting sunlight back into space, cancelling a portion of the greenhouse effect warming and making its surface significantly colder than its upper atmosphere.

Titan’s clouds, probably composed of methane, ethane or other simple organics, are scattered and variable, punctuating the overall haze.The findings of the Huygens probe indicate that Titan’s atmosphere periodically rains liquid methane and other organic compounds onto its surface. Clouds typically cover 1% of Titan’s disk, though outburst events have been observed in which the cloud cover rapidly expands to as much as 8%. One hypothesis asserts that the southern clouds are formed when heightened levels of sunlight during the southern summer generate uplift in the atmosphere, resulting in convection. This explanation is complicated by the fact that cloud formation has been observed not only after the southern summer solstice but also during mid-spring.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Posted 3 days ago

This photo by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the huge iron meteorite “Lebanon” (7 feet wide) and its smaller companion “Lebanon B.” The two meteorites were found by Curiosity on May 25, 2014. The circular insets are more detailed views by Curiosity’s Chem-Cam instrument overlaid on an image by the rover’s Remote Micro-Imager.


Posted 3 days ago


This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO’s NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

From via SETI institute.