NASA's Webb Telescope Clean Room 'Transporter'

What looks like a teleporter from science fiction being draped over NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, is actually a "clean tent." The clean tent protects Webb from dust and dirt when engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center transport the telescope out of the relatively dust-free cleanroom and into the vibration and acoustics testing areas. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gxOxoO


Fiery South Atlantic Sunset

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed a sunset that looks like a vast sheet of flame. With Earth’s surface already in darkness, the setting sun, the cloud masses, and the sideways viewing angle make a powerful image of the kind that astronauts use to commemorate their flights. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fMNDXg

Tiny Mimas, Huge Rings

Saturn's icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet's enormous rings. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fxDMpN


Verona Rupes: Tallest Known Cliff in the Solar System

Could you survive a jump off the tallest cliff in the Solar System? Quite possibly. Verona Rupes on Uranus' moon Miranda is estimated to be 20 kilometers deep -- ten times the depth of the Earth's Grand Canyon. Given Miranda's low gravity, it would take about 12 minutes for a thrill-seeking adventurer to fall from the top, reaching the bottom at the speed of a racecar -- about 200 kilometers per hour. Even so, the fall might be survivable given proper airbag protection. The featured image of Verona Rupes was captured by the passing Voyager 2 robotic spacecraft in 1986. How the giant cliff was created remains unknown, but is possibly related to a large impact or tectonic surface motion. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fnUdoD


Ring Scan

Scroll right and you can cruise along the icy rings of Saturn. This high resolution scan is a mosaic of images presented in natural color. The images were recorded in May 2007 over about 2.5 hours as the Cassini spacecraft passed above the unlit side of the rings. To help track your progress, major rings and gaps are labeled along with the distance from the center of the gas giant in kilometers. The alphabetical designation of Saturn's rings is historically based on their order of discovery; rings A and B are the bright rings separated by the Cassini division. In order of increasing distance from Saturn, the seven main rings run D,C,B,A,F,G,E. (Faint, outer rings G and E are not imaged here.) Four days from now, on November 29, Cassini will make a close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan and use the large moon's gravity to nudge the spacecraft into a series of 20 daring, elliptical, ring-grazing orbits. Diving through the ring plane just 11,000 kilometers outside the F ring (far right) Cassini's first ring-graze will be on December 4. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fbgea1


Celebrating Thanksgiving Aboard the International Space Station

The six Expedition 50 crew members celebrate Thanksgiving in space, Nov. 24, 2016, with rehydrated turkey, stuffing, potatoes and vegetables. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gmgIdl


Prototype of Space Station's Advanced Plant Habitat

A high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), the largest plant chamber built for the agency, arrived at Kennedy Space Center the third week of November, 2016. The APH unit, containing small flowering plant seeds, will be delivered to the International Space Station in 2017. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fremIw


Hubble Spies Spiral Galaxy

Spiral galaxy NGC 3274 is a relatively faint galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). via NASA http://ift.tt/2f2EN91


Faint F Ring and Prometheus

Surface features are visible on Saturn's moon Prometheus in this view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. via NASA http://ift.tt/2geAJji

NGC 4414: A Flocculent Spiral Galaxy

How much mass do flocculent spirals hide? The featured true color image of flocculent spiral galaxy NGC 4414 was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope to help answer this question. The featured image was augmented with data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Flocculent spirals -- galaxies without well-defined spiral arms -- are a quite common form of galaxy, and NGC 4414 is one of the closest. Stars and gas near the visible edge of spiral galaxies orbit the center so fast that the gravity from a large amount of unseen dark matter must be present to hold them together. Understanding the matter and dark matter distribution of NGC 4414 helps humanity calibrate the rest of the galaxy and, by deduction, flocculent spirals in general. Further, calibrating the distance to NGC 4414 helps humanity calibrate the cosmological distance scale of the entire visible universe. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gsbMns


IC 5070: A Dusty Pelican in the Swan

The recognizable profile of the Pelican Nebula soars nearly 2,000 light-years away in the high flying constellation Cygnus, the Swan. Also known as IC 5070, this interstellar cloud of gas and dust is appropriately found just off the "east coast" of the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), another surprisingly familiar looking emission nebula in Cygnus. Both Pelican and North America nebulae are part of the same large and complex star forming region, almost as nearby as the better-known Orion Nebula. From our vantage point, dark dust clouds (upper left) help define the Pelican's eye and long bill, while a bright front of ionized gas suggests the curved shape of the head and neck. This striking synthesized color view utilizes narrowband image data recording the emission of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the cosmic cloud. The scene spans some 30 light-years at the estimated distance of the Pelican Nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2frkU7N


GOES-R Weather Satellite Ready For Launch

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and its GOES-R payload at the launchpad as preparations continue for launch at 5:42 p.m. EST, Saturday, Nov. 19, from Space Launch Complex 41. via NASA http://ift.tt/2g8kWTF

Philadelphia Perigee Full Moon

A supermoon sets over the metropolis of Philadelphia in this twilight snapshot captured on November 14 at 6:21am Eastern Standard Time. Within hours of the Moon's exact full phase, that time does correspond to a lunar perigee or the closest point in the Moon's elliptical orbit around our fair planet. Slightly bigger and brighter at perigee, this Full Moon is still flattened and distorted in appearance by refraction in atmospheric layers along the sight-line near the horizon. Also like more ordinary Full Moons, it shines with the warm color of sunlight. Joined by buildings along the Philadelphia skyline, the perigee full moonlight is reflected in the waters of the mighty Cooper River. via NASA http://ift.tt/2f7q2wQ


Expedition 50 Crew Launches to the International Space Station

In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, Kazakh time (Nov 17 EST). via NASA http://ift.tt/2g3zbv4


Expedition 50 Crew Waves Farewell

Expedition 50 crewmembers ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, top, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, middle, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos wave farewell before boarding their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft for launch Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, (Kazakh Time) in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fZYHNU


Cloudscape Over the Philippine Sea

Flying over the Philippine Sea, an astronaut looked toward the horizon from the International Space Station and shot this photograph of three-dimensional clouds, the thin blue envelope of the atmosphere, and the blackness of space. The late afternoon sunlight brightens a broad swath of the sea surface on the right side of the image. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fVvyVp

Cold Weather Delayed over North America

Why is it so warm in northern North America? Usually during this time of year -- mid-November -- temperatures average as much as 30 degrees colder. Europe is not seeing a similar warming. One factor appears to be an unusually large and stable high pressure region that has formed over Canada, keeping normally colder arctic air away. Although the fundamental cause of any weather pattern is typically complex, speculation holds that this persistent Canadian anticyclonic region is related to warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the mid-Pacific -- an El Niño -- operating last winter. North Americans should enjoy it while it lasts, though. In the next week or two, cooler-than-average temperatures now being recorded in the mid-Pacific -- a La Niña -- might well begin to affect North American wind and temperature patterns. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gddWar


November 15, 1966: Gemini XII Crew Returns to Earth

Following the Gemini XII splashdown on Nov. 15, 1966, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, left, and Jim Lovell are welcomed aboard the recovery aircraft carrier, USS Wasp, concluding their four-day mission. Gemini XII was the final flight of the Gemini program, a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs. via NASA http://ift.tt/2eCb1rr


Supermoon and Expedition 50 Soyuz

The moon, or supermoon, is seen rising behind the Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station at 3:20 p.m. EST Nov. 17. via NASA http://ift.tt/2g7t2iB

Super Moon vs Micro Moon

What is so super about tomorrow's supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon's fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee - when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, tomorrow's supermoon will undoubtedly qualify because it will be the closest, largest, and brightest full moon in over 65 years. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see -- just go outside at sunset and watch an impressive full moon rise! Since perigee actually occurs tomorrow morning, tonight's full moon, visible starting at sunset, should also be impressive. Pictured here, a supermoon from 2012 is compared to a micromoon -- when a full Moon occurs near the furthest part of the Moon's orbit -- so that it appears smaller and dimmer than usual. Given many definitions, at least one supermoon occurs each year, with another one coming next month (moon-th). However, a full moon will not come this close to Earth again until 2034. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fvYgeM


Getting to Know the Getz Ice Shelf

As scientists and crew with NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission prepared for a research flight on Nov. 5, 2016, the weather in Punta Arenas, Chile, was cold, wet, and windy. But when they reached their survey site in West Antarctica, skies were clear and winds were calm—a perfect day for scientists to collect data over the Getz Ice Shelf. via NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/getting-to-know-the-getz-ice-shelf

M63: The Sunflower Galaxy from Hubble

One of the bright spiral galaxies visible in the north sky is M63, the Sunflower Galaxy. M63, also catalogued as NGC 5055, can be found with a small telescope toward the constellation of Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici). The featured picture from the Hubble Space Telescope exhibits the center of M63, complete with long winding spiral arms glowing blue from a few bright young stars, emission nebulae glowing red from hot ionized hydrogen gas, and dark dust in numerous filaments. M63 interacts gravitationally with M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy) and several smaller galaxies. Light takes about 35 million years to reach us from M63, and about 60,000 years to cross the spiral galaxy. Stars in the outer regions of the Sunflower Galaxy rotate about the center at a speed so high that, given the matter seen and assuming normal gravity, they should fly off into space. The fact that the stars remain indicates the presence of sort of invisible, gravitationally-binding, dark matter. via NASA http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap161109.html


Wind Carved Rock on Mars

The distinctively fluted surface and elongated hills in this image in Medusae Fossae are caused by wind erosion of a soft fine-grained rock. Called yardangs, these features are aligned with the prevailing wind direction. This wind direction would have dominated for a very long time to carve these large-scale features into the exposed rock. via NASA http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/wind-carved-rock-on-mars

The Cosmic Web of the Tarantula Nebula

It is the largest and most complex star forming region in the entire galactic neighborhood. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy orbiting our Milky Way galaxy, the region's spidery appearance is responsible for its popular name, the Tarantula nebula. This tarantula, however, is about 1,000 light-years across. Were it placed at the distance of Milky Way's Orion Nebula, only 1,500 light-years distant and the nearest stellar nursery to Earth, it would appear to cover about 30 degrees (60 full moons) on the sky. Intriguing details of the nebula are visible in the featured image shown in colors emitted predominantly by hydrogen and oxygen. The spindly arms of the Tarantula nebula surround NGC 2070, a star cluster that contains some of the brightest, most massive stars known, visible in blue in the image center. Since massive stars live fast and die young, it is not so surprising that the cosmic Tarantula also lies near the site of the closest recent supernova. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fz5At0


Election Day 2016

Thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislators that put in place technical voting procedure for astronauts, they have the ability to vote from space through specially designed absentee ballots. To preserve the integrity of the secret vote, the ballot is encrypted and only accessible by the astronaut and the county clerk responsible for casting it. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fXPzgO

Inverted City Beneath Clouds

How could that city be upside-down? The city, Chicago, was actually perfectly right-side up. The long shadows it projected onto nearby Lake Michigan near sunset, however, when seen in reflection, made the buildings appear inverted. This fascinating, puzzling, yet beautiful image was captured by a photographer in 2014 on an airplane on approach to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The Sun can be seen both above and below the cloud deck, with the latter reflected in the calm lake. As a bonus, if you look really closely -- and this is quite a challenge -- you can find another airplane in the image, likely also on approach to the same airport. via NASA http://ift.tt/2frZ98z


Ring Details on Display

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn's rings. via NASA http://ift.tt/2eFDPOl

Starburst Cluster in NGC 3603

A mere 20,000 light-years from the Sun lies NGC 3603, a resident of the nearby Carina spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 3603 is well known to astronomers as one of the Milky Way's largest star-forming regions. The central open star cluster contains thousands of stars more massive than our Sun, stars that likely formed only one or two million years ago in a single burst of star formation. In fact, nearby NGC 3603 is thought to contain a convenient example of the massive star clusters that populate much more distant starburst galaxies. Surrounding the cluster are natal clouds of glowing interstellar gas and obscuring dust, sculpted by energetic stellar radiation and winds. Recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope, the image spans about 17 light-years. via NASA http://ift.tt/2erW06L


Portrait of NGC 281

Look through the cosmic cloud cataloged as NGC 281 and you might miss the stars of open cluster IC 1590. Still, formed within the nebula that cluster's young, massive stars ultimately power the pervasive nebular glow. The eye-catching shapes looming in this portrait of NGC 281 are sculpted columns and dense dust globules seen in silhouette, eroded by intense, energetic winds and radiation from the hot cluster stars. If they survive long enough, the dusty structures could also be sites of future star formation. Playfully called the Pacman Nebula because of its overall shape, NGC 281 is about 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. This sharp composite image was made through narrow-band filters, combining emission from the nebula's hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen atoms in green, red, and blue hues. It spans over 80 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 281. via NASA http://ift.tt/2eGGvZx


Hubble Takes Flight with the Toucan and the Cluster

NGC 299 is an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud just under 200,000 light-years away. via NASA http://ift.tt/2eGZlQm


Orion Crew Module Underway Recovery Testing

U.S. Navy divers and other personnel in a rigid hull Zodiac boat have attached tether lines to a test version of the Orion crew module during Underway Recovery Test 5 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. NASA and the U.S. Navy are conducting a series of tests to practice for recovery of Orion on its return from deep space missions. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fyVo4V


James Webb Space Telescope Mirrors Will Piece Together Cosmic Puzzles

The primary mirror of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope that consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors looks like a giant puzzle piece standing in the massive clean room of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The telescope will help piece together puzzles scientists have been trying to solve throughout the cosmos. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fE9EZi

Arp 299: Black Holes in Colliding Galaxies

Is only one black hole spewing high energy radiation -- or two? To help find out, astronomers trained NASA's Earth-orbiting NuSTAR and Chandra telescopes on Arp 299, the enigmatic colliding galaxies expelling the radiation. The two galaxies of Arp 299 have been locked in a gravitational combat for millions of years, while their central black holes will soon do battle themselves. Featured, the high-resolution visible-light image was taken by Hubble, while the superposed diffuse glow of X-ray light was imaged by NuSTAR and shown in false-color red, green, and blue. NuSTAR observations show that only one of the central black holes is seen fighting its way through a region of gas and dust -- and so absorbing matter and emitting X-rays. The energetic radiation, coming only from the galaxy center on the right, is surely created nearby -- but outside -- the central black hole's event horizon. In a billion years or so, only one composite galaxy will remain, and only one central supermassive black hole. Soon thereafter, though, another galaxy may enter the fray. via NASA http://ift.tt/2f8LuDd


Prototype Capture System, Mock Asteroid Help Simulate Mission Sequence

A prototype of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) robotic capture module system is tested with a mock asteroid boulder in its clutches at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The robotic portion of ARM is targeted for launch in 2021. via NASA http://ift.tt/2evAi2z

Ghost Aurora over Canada

What does this aurora look like to you? While braving the cold to watch the skies above northern Canada early one morning in 2013, a most unusual aurora appeared. The aurora definitely appeared to be shaped like something , but what? Two ghostly possibilities recorded by the astrophotographer were "witch" and "goddess of dawn", but please feel free to suggest your own Halloween-enhanced impressions. Regardless of fantastical pareidolic interpretations, the pictured aurora had a typical green color and was surely caused by the scientifically commonplace action of high energy particles from space interacting with oxygen in Earth's upper atmosphere. In the image foreground, at the bottom, is a frozen Alexandra Falls, while evergreen trees cross the middle. via NASA http://ift.tt/2f4lSIh