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We're saddened by the passing of astronaut Alan Bean. The fourth person to walk on the Moon, he spent 10+ hours on the lunar surface during Apollo 12. Bean was spacecraft commander of Skylab Mission II & devoted his retirement to painting. In this photo dated Nov. 20, 1969, Alan Bean holds a special environmental sample container filled with lunar soil collected during his sojourn on the lunar surface.
Although beautiful, this image from the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble) does not do justice to this galaxy’s true appeal: it is actually a spectacular spiral galaxy! From Earth, the galaxy’s vast disk of gas, dust and stars is seen nearly edge-on, flat like a pancake.
Located about a hundred million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster), this spiral galaxy is not the only one seen here. A handful of other galaxies can be seen lurking in the background, scattered around the narrow strip the main galaxy. Many are oriented face-on or at tilted angles, showing off their glamorous spiral arms and bright cores. Such orientations provide a wealth of detail about the arms and their nuclei, but fully understanding a galaxy’s three-dimensional structure also requires an edge-on view. This gives astronomers an overall idea of how stars are distributed throughout the galaxy and allows them to measure the “height” of the disk and the bright star-studded core.
Special Delivery! After launching early Monday morning, Orbital ATK's (@Orbital_ATK) Cygnus cargo craft arrived at the International Space Station (@ISS) this morning. The spacecraft was successfully captured using the station’s robotic arm, seen here in a photo shared by Astronaut Ricky Arnold (@Astro_Ricky). Following capture, robotic ground controllers positioned and installed Cygnus to the orbiting laboratory’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module. The spacecraft delivers supplies and scientific investigations including those that will study microbiology, physics, materials science, plant biology, liquid separation and more.
Cygnus will spend about seven weeks attached to the space station before departing in July. After it leaves the station, the uncrewed spacecraft will deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.
A new day, a new, extraordinary perspective. Here's a unique view of Jupiter and its iconic red spot, courtesy of our Juno spacecraft’s 12th close flyby of the gas giant planet on April 1. This view from the south is unique to Juno and demonstrates how different our view is when we step off the Earth and experience the true nature of our three-dimensional universe.
A duo of twin satellites have launched on a big Earth mission! Our GRACE Follow-On mission launched onboard a SpaceX (@SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket today, May 22 at 3:47 p.m. EDT, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. GRACE-FO will study changes in Earth’s ice sheets, groundwater storage, quake-shifted land, and ocean currents. GRACE-FO shared its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement with the German Research Centre for Geosciences.
Changes in how mass is distributed within and between Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, groundwater and ice sheets are fundamental indicators of the large-scale dynamics of the planet. For more than 15 years, our Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission monitored mass changes every month with far-reaching impact on our understanding of the Earth system and how it is evolving. GRACE Follow-On continues the legacy of GRACE, tracking Earth’s water movement and surface mass changes across the planet. Monitoring changes in ice sheets and glaciers, near-surface and underground water storage, the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, as well as changes in sea level and ocean currents provides an integrated global view of how Earth’s water cycle and energy balance are evolving—measurements that have important applications for everyday life.
Swipe to see a timelapse image of launch and other launch images.
‘Twas the night before launch and Orbital ATK’s #Antares rocket with the #Cygnus spacecraft perched on top, sits ready on the launch pad for tomorrow’s 4:39 a.m. EDT liftoff. Packed with around 7,400 pounds of science experiments, food and supplies, this marks Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station (@iss). Orbiting 250 miles above Earth, the space station has had a continuous human presence since the year 2000, and is currently home to six astronauts. While onboard, crew members conduct important scientific research that will not only pave the way for humans to travel deeper into the solar system than ever before, but also has benefits to life here on Earth.
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Behold: see galaxies like never before! Astronomers have used the unparalleled sharpness & spectral range of the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble) to create the most comprehensive, high-resolution ultraviolet-light look at nearby star-forming galaxies.
The researchers combined new Hubble observations with archival Hubble images for 50 star-forming spiral and dwarf galaxies in the local universe, offering a large and extensive resource for understanding the complexities of star formation and galaxy evolution. The project, called the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS), has amassed star catalogs for each of the LEGUS galaxies and cluster catalogs for 30 of the galaxies, as well as images of the galaxies themselves. The data provide detailed information on young, massive stars and star clusters, and how their environment affects their development.
A powerful X-ray pulsar is whipping around its stellar partner at a record-breaking speed! These two stars orbit each other every 38 minutes, less than the amount of time it takes to stream an episode of your favorite tv sitcom. It’s the fastest-known orbit for this kind of binary star system, where a rapidly spinning, very dense star called a pulsar pulls material away from a lighter companion star. In this visualization you can see that the two stars in this system are closer to each other than Earth is to the Moon! Scientists were able to confirm the new record using our Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer aboard the International Space Station (@ISS). Credit: @NASAGoddard #nasa#space#spacetelescope#star#universe#science#binarystars#pulsar#spacestation#iss#nicer#neutronstar#stars#xrays#orbit#space
Imagine taking in breathtaking views of the Earth below you while experiencing a sunrise and sunset every 90 minutes. Astronaut Ricky Arnold (@astro_ricky) experienced that mind-blowing workday as he performed a 6.5 hour spacewalk yesterday and captured this selfie. Alongside fellow spacewalker Drew Feustel (@astro_feustel), Arnold finished upgrading cooling system hardware and installed new and updated communications equipment for future dockings of commercial crew spacecraft. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes working outside the International Space Station (@ISS) in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.
This natural-color image of the erupting Kilauea volcano in Hawaii shows the aftermath of lava fountains and explosions that rose more than 100 feet into the air on May 14. Our satellites acquire data to measure the height of volcanic plumes and make observations about the properties of the particles found within the plumes. In this image, the areas appearing red show where our satellite detected unusually warm temperatures associated with lava, while recent lava flows appear gray, forested areas are dark green and homes are small white dots. We will continue to use satellite data to understand Kilauea’s geology and behavior.
Each and every day, our Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite collects data about our brightest star. Our satellite helps researchers understand the Sun's influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.
This image of the sun, taken today, combines images in three wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light. Each different wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light present in the Sun's corona correlates to material of different temperatures, resulting sometimes in completely different views of the same Sun. Scientists examine the combined images to reveal the solar atmosphere in all its detail.
To learn more about how we study solar activity, visit: www.nasa.gov/sdo
Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory