WHAT’S OUT THERE? 🌌Our newest planet-hunting spacecraft — the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, just released its first science image using all four cameras on the spacecraft! Swipe through to see the first full swath of sky that TESS captured in its search for planets outside of our solar system, called exoplanets. This “first light” image, taken in one 30-minute period on Tuesday, Aug. 7, captured a bounty of stars and other objects, including systems previously known to have exoplanets. They cover a band of the southern sky that captures parts of a southern dozen constellations, from Pictor (the Painter’s Easel) in the first image to Capricornus (the Sea Goat) in the last image. However, it might be hard to find familiar constellations among all these stars! In the first and second images, you’ll find the Milky Way’s closest neighbor galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The small bright dot to the right of the Small Magellanic Cloud is a globular cluster — a spherical collection of hundreds of thousands of stars — called 47 Tucanae because of its location in the constellation Toucana (the Toucan). In the first and third images, there are also two stars so bright to TESS’s cameras that they saturate an entire column of pixels on the cameras' digital sensors, resulting in long horizontal lines. Led out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TESS is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets. It will scan nearly the entire sky over two years to monitor 200,000 of the nearest and brightest stars in search of transits – periodic dips in a star’s brightness caused by planets passing in front of their stars. Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS #nasa#space#exoplanets#planets#astronomy#satellite#tess#science#nasatess#habitableplanets#star#astrophysics#spacecraft
On its 15th close flyby of Jupiter, our @NASAJuno spacecraft spotted a long, brown oval known as a "brown barge" in the South Equatorial Belt. Brown barges are cyclonic regions that usually lie within Jupiter's dark North Equatorial Belt, although they are sometimes found in the similarly dark South Equatorial Belt as well. They can often be difficult to detect visually because their color blends in with the dark surroundings. At other times, as with this color-enhanced image, the dark belt material recedes, creating a lighter-colored background against which the brown barge is more conspicuous. Brown barges usually dissipate after the entire cloud belt undergoes an upheaval and reorganizes itself. Juno is giving us the first glimpses of the detailed structure within such a barge. Since 2016, Juno has been penetrating Jupiter’s deep, colorful zones and belts in a quest to answer fundamental questions about the gas giant planet's origin and evolution. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill #nasa#space#juno#jupiter#gasgiant#planet#clouds#swirling#pattern#solarsystem#science#spacecraft#pictureoftheday#astronomy
We started the day by launching space lasers! 🚀 At 9:02 a.m. EDT, our #ICESat2 satellite launched on an United Launch Alliance (@ulalaunch) #DeltaII rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for a mission to use lasers to measure the changing height of Earth's ice. ICESat-2 will send 10,000 laser pulses a second to Earth’s surface and measure the height of ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and vegetation by calculating the time it takes the pulses to return to the spacecraft. In the blink of an eye, the laser instrument will take 30,000 height measurements, adding a third dimension to flat satellite imagery of Earth. These precise measurements will help researchers track changes in land and sea ice and more importantly, help us understand what drives these changes.
‘Twas the night before launch... Before calling it a night, set an alarm so that you won’t miss our #ICESat2 satellite when it launches tomorrow no earlier than 8:46 a.m. EDT. Forecasters predict a 100 percent chance of favorable weather for our satellite to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's Pacific coast aboard a United Launch Alliance (@ULAlaunch) Delta II rocket. This mission will provide critical observations of Earth’s ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice, which will help scientists better understand how these changes at the poles will affect people around the world.
NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 8:10 a.m. EDT on air and streaming at https://go.nasa.gov/2QrXAJU.
This morning, a high definition camera outside the International Space Station (@ISS) captured a stark and sobering view of #HurricaneFlorence as it churned across the Atlantic with winds of 130 miles an hour. From the vantage point of space, we also use instruments such as our @NASAEarth satellites to provide data on hurricanes that helps scientists understand these powerful storms and ultimately, help improve hurricane forecasts. Credit: NASA
Earlier this morning, @astro_ricky shared this view of Hurricane Florence while orbiting our home planet from 250 miles above. As one of six humans living and working aboard the International Space Station (@ISS), he takes in 16 orbits of Earth each day at a speed of 17,500mph. In addition to space views captured by our astronauts, our @NASAEarth-observing satellites collect imagery and data, including infrared and microwave imagery, rain rates throughout the storm and cloud heights. This data helps scientists and forecasters better predict weather and keep the public informed. Credit: NASA
Over the course of just one day, a tiny active region on the Sun grew to became almost as large as its many-days-old neighbor. Seen from Aug. 23-24, 2018, these active regions are areas of intense magnetism and are often the source of solar storms.
We use our Solar Dynamics Observatory to understand the Sun's influence on Earth and near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere in many wavelengths simultaneously. This allows us to better understand the solar variations that influence life on Earth and humanity's technological systems by looking for solar wind, energetic particles, and variations in the solar irradiance that lead to better predictions of space weather events.
A hazy aura of gas and dust stretches into space around this galaxy, 70 million light-years away, that features irregular lanes of dust forming a swirling spiral pattern around the center. It also causes the warm, fuzzy glow seen here by the @NASAHubble Space Telescope.
This galaxy sits in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear) and can be seen using an amateur telescope due to its relative brightness, making it a favorite amongst backyard astronomers and astrophotography aficionados. The particularly bright star visible slightly to the right of the galactic center is not within the galaxy itself; it sits between us and this galaxy, adding a burst of brightness to the scene.
California dreaming! European astronaut Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex_ESA) captured this image from the vantage point of the International Space Station (@ISS), sharing it and saying: "One of my favourite orbits is down along the West Coast of [the] USA, from Alaska to the Andes. We fly this route once a day." Gerst is currently one of six humans aboard the orbiting laboratory. Each day, the station completes 16 orbits of our home planet as the six humans living and working aboard the station conduct important science and research. Their work will not only benefit life here on Earth, but will help us venture deeper into space than ever before.
You’re looking at a cosmic collision! Our @NASAChandraXray observatory discovered this ring of black holes or neutron stars in a galaxy 300 million light years from Earth. Astronomers think that this ring of black holes was created when one galaxy was pulled into another galaxy by the force of gravity. The first galaxy generated ripples in the gas of the second galaxy, located in the lower right. These ripples then produced an expanding ring of gas that triggered the birth of new stars. The first galaxy is possibly the one located in the lower left of the image.
All of the X-ray sources detected in the ring are bright enough to be classified as ultraluminous X-ray sources. This is a class of objects that produce hundreds to thousands of times more X-rays than most "normal" binary systems in which a companion star is in orbit around a neutron star or black hole. The most massive of these fledgling stars will lead short lives — in cosmic terms — of millions of years. After that, their nuclear fuel is spent and the stars explode as supernovas leaving behind either black holes with masses typically between about five to twenty times that of the Sun, or neutron stars with a mass approximately equal to that of the Sun.
This ring of black holes may help scientists better understand what happens when galaxies smash into one another in catastrophic impacts.
Credit: NASA/CXC/INAF/A. Wolter et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
Crystals in space! 💎 Our orbiting laboratory, the International Space Station (@ISS), is a perfect environment for creating protein crystal structures for research. In microgravity, protein molecules form more orderly, high-quality crystals, giving scientists a clearer picture into understanding their function so they can develop more effective treatments for diseases. Since experiments often need more than one attempt to generate ideal crystals, researchers may have to return samples to Earth for analysis and then revisit the experiment on a later space mission. Scientists are currently testing new methods of growing crystals that allow astronauts to observe imperfections, make real-time adjustments and try growing them again. This dramatically reduces the time and cost to conduct experiments in space, allowing astronauts to expand how much research happens in space. During their stay aboard the space station, astronauts conduct approximately 250 experiments and investigations that can be applied to future space missions and also to benefit humankind. Credit: NASA
“…All he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high and unbelieveably white in the Sun, was the square top of #Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going.” – Ernest Hemingway This stunning image of Kilimanjaro was taken from the vantage point of NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (@Astro_Ricky) as the International Space Station (@ISS) flew over Tanzania. Currently, six people are living and working 250 miles above planet Earth on humanity’s orbiting laboratory. There, they conduct important science and research that will not only benefit life here on Earth, but will help us send humans deeper into the solar system than ever before. Credit: NASA/@Astro_Ricky