NASA Image of the day

Syndicate content
The latest NASA "Image of the Day" image.
Updated: 4 years 38 weeks ago

Aircraft Carrying IRIS Solar Observatory Takes Off

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 04:00
An Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft takes off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on a mission to launch NASA's IRIS spacecraft into low-Earth orbit. IRIS, short for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, was launched on June 27, 2013 aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket released from the L-1011.IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun's lower atmosphere. This interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona powers its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind.Photo Credit: VAFB/Chris Wiant
Categories: Science & Nature

Stargazer Aircraft Carrying IRIS Takes Off

Thu, 06/27/2013 - 04:00
The Orbital Sciences L-1011 aircraft takes off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:30 p.m. EDT on June 27, 2013, headed over the Pacific Ocean to release the Pegasus XL rocket carrying NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, solar observatory.IRIS will open a new window of discovery using spectrometry and imaging to trace the flow of energy and plasma through the chromospheres and transition region into the sun’s corona. The spacecraft will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere. This interface region, located between the sun's visible surface and its upper atmosphere, is where most of its ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.Photo Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper
Categories: Science & Nature

Nighttime Image of Texas Cities

Thu, 06/27/2013 - 04:00
One of the Expedition 36 crew members aboard the International Space Station, some 240 miles above Earth, used a 50mm lens to record this oblique nighttime image of a large part of the nation’s second largest state in area, including the four largest metropolitan areas in population. The extent of the metropolitan areas is easily visible at night due to city and highway lights.The largest metro area, Dallas-Fort Worth, often referred to informally as the Metroplex, is the heavily cloud-covered area at the top center of the photo. Neighboring Oklahoma, on the north side of the Red River, less than 100 miles to the north of the Metroplex, appears to be experiencing thunderstorms. The Houston metropolitan area, including the coastal city of Galveston, is at lower right. To the east near the Texas border with Louisiana, the metropolitan area of Beaumont-Port Arthur appears as a smaller blotch of light, also hugging the coast of the Texas Gulf. Moving inland to the left side of the picture one can delineate the San Antonio metro area. The capital city of Austin can be seen to the northeast of San Antonio.Image Credit: NASA
Categories: Science & Nature

IRIS Launch Set For Thursday

Wed, 06/26/2013 - 04:00
Technicians and engineers at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California mate the Pegasus XL rocket with the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, solar observatory to the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft. The launch of NASA's IRIS mission has been delayed one day to 10:27 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 27. Live NASA Television launch coverage begins at 9 p.m. IRIS will open a new window of discovery by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromospheres and transition region into the sun’s corona using spectrometry and imaging. The IRIS mission will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere. The interface region, located between the sun's visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate. Image Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Categories: Science & Nature

Earthrise

Tue, 06/25/2013 - 04:00
Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts--Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders--held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis. Image Credit: NASA
Categories: Science & Nature

Stepping into the Orion Crew Module

Tue, 06/25/2013 - 04:00
NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ricky Arnold step into the Orion crew module hatch during a series of spacesuit check tests conducted on June 13, 2013 at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Orion crew module will serve as both transport and a home to astronauts during future long-duration missions to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations throughout our solar system. Image Credit: NASA
Categories: Science & Nature

Supermoon in Washington

Mon, 06/24/2013 - 04:00
A supermoon rises behind the Washington Monument, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in Washington. This year the supermoon is up to 13.5 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon is. This is a result of the Moon reaching its perigee - the closest that it gets to the Earth during the course of its orbit. During perigee on June 23, the moon was about 221,824 miles away, as compared to the 252,581 miles away that it is at its furthest distance from the Earth (apogee). Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Categories: Science & Nature

Colliding Galaxy Pair

Fri, 06/21/2013 - 04:00
This striking NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which shows what looks like the profile of a celestial bird, belies the fact that close encounters between galaxies are a messy business. This interacting galaxy duo is collectively called Arp 142. The pair contains the disturbed, star-forming spiral galaxy NGC 2936, along with its elliptical companion, NGC 2937 at lower left. Once part of a flat, spiral disk, the orbits of the galaxy's stars have become scrambled due to gravitational tidal interactions with the other galaxy. This warps the galaxy's orderly spiral, and interstellar gas is strewn out into giant tails like stretched taffy. Gas and dust drawn from the heart of NGC 2936 becomes compressed during the encounter, which in turn triggers star formation. These bluish knots are visible along the distorted arms that are closest to the companion elliptical. The reddish dust, once within the galaxy, has been thrown out of the galaxy's plane and into dark veins that are silhouetted against the bright starlight from what is left of the nucleus and disk. The companion elliptical, NGC 2937, is a puffball of stars with little gas or dust present. The stars contained within the galaxy are mostly old, as evidenced by their reddish color. There are no blue stars that would be evidence of recent star formation. While the orbits of this elliptical's stars may be altered by the encounter, it's not apparent that the gravitational pull by its neighboring galaxy is having much of an effect. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Categories: Science & Nature

IRIS Preps for Launch

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 04:00
The fully integrated spacecraft and science instrument for NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is seen in a clean room at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Sunnyvale, Calif. facility. The solar arrays are deployed in the configuration they will assume when in orbit. IRIS is scheduled to launch on June 26, 2013. Understanding the interface between the photosphere and corona remains a fundamental challenge in solar and heliospheric science. The IRIS mission opens a window of discovery into this crucial region by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromosphere and transition region into the corona using spectrometry and imaging. IRIS is designed to provide significant new information to increase our understanding of energy transport into the corona and solar wind and provide an archetype for all stellar atmospheres. The unique instrument capabilities, coupled with state of the art 3-D modeling, will fill a large gap in our knowledge of this dynamic region of the solar atmosphere. The mission will extend the scientific output of existing heliophysics spacecraft that follow the effects of energy release processes from the sun to Earth. Image Credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin
Categories: Science & Nature

Rare Clear View of Alaska

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 04:00
On most days, relentless rivers of clouds wash over Alaska, obscuring most of the state's 6,640 miles (10,690 kilometers) of coastline and 586,000 square miles (1,518,000 square kilometers) of land. The south coast of Alaska even has the dubious distinction of being the cloudiest region of the United States, with some locations averaging more than 340 cloudy days per year. That was certainly not the case on June 17, 2013, the date that the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired this rare, nearly cloud-free view of the state. The absence of clouds exposed a striking tapestry of water, ice, land, forests, and even wildfires. Snow-covered mountains such as the Alaska Range and Chugach Mountains were visible in southern Alaska, while the arc of mountains that make up the Brooks Range dominated the northern part of the state. The Yukon River -- the longest in Alaska and the third longest in the United States -- wound its way through the green boreal forests that inhabit the interior of the state. Plumes of sediment and glacial dust poured into the Gulf of Alaska from the Copper River. And Iliamna Lake, the largest in Alaska, was ice free. The same ridge of high pressure that cleared Alaska's skies also brought stifling temperatures to many areas accustomed to chilly June days. Talkeetna, a town about 100 miles north of Anchorage, saw temperatures reach 96°F (36°C) on June 17. Other towns in southern Alaska set all-time record highs, including Cordova, Valez, and Seward. The high temperatures also helped fuel wildfires and hastened the breakup of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea.Image Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFCCaption: Adam Voiland
Categories: Science & Nature

First American Woman in Space

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 04:00
On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7. As one of the three mission specialists on the STS-7 mission, she played a vital role in helping the crew deploy communications satellites, conduct experiments and make use of the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite. In this image, Dr. Ride sits in the aft flight deck mission specialist's seat during deorbit preparations. › Read more about Sally Ride's historic flight. Image Credit: NASA
Categories: Science & Nature

An Astronaut's View from Station

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 04:00
A view of Earth as seen from the Cupola on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station. Visible in the top left foreground is a Russian Soyuz crew capsule. In the lower right corner, a solar array panel can be seen. This photo was taken from the ISS on June 12, 2013. Image Credit: NASA
Categories: Science & Nature

A View of Mercury From Afar

Fri, 06/14/2013 - 04:00
This image of Mercury, acquired by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard NASA's MESSENGER mission on April 23, 2013, allows us to take a step back to view the planet. Prior to the MESSENGER mission, Mercury's surface was often compared to the surface of Earth's moon, when in fact, Mercury and the moon are very different. This image in particular highlights many basins near Mercury's terminator, including Bach crater. Many craters with central peaks and the nearby bright rays of Han Kan crater are also evident. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Categories: Science & Nature

The Moon and Sun

Thu, 06/13/2013 - 04:00
Two or three times a year, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observes the moon traveling across the sun, blocking its view. While this obscures solar observations for a short while, it offers the chance for an interesting view of the shadow of the moon. The moon’s crisp horizon can be seen up against the sun, because the moon does not have an atmosphere. (At other times of the year, when Earth blocks SDO’s view, the Earth’s horizon looks fuzzy due to its atmosphere.) If one looks closely at such a crisp border, the features of the moon’s topography are visible, as is the case in this image from Oct. 7, 2010. This recently inspired two NASA visualizers to overlay a 3-dimensional model of the moon based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, into the shadow of the SDO image. Such a task is fairly tricky, as the visualizers — Scott Wiessinger who typically works with the SDO imagery and Ernie Wright who works with the LRO imagery -- had to precisely match up data from the correct time and viewpoint for the two separate instruments. The end result is an awe-inspiring image of the sun and the moon. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/LRO/GSFC
Categories: Science & Nature

Preparing IRIS Spacecraft for Launch

Wed, 06/12/2013 - 04:00
Orbital Sciences team members move the second half of the payload fairing before it is placed over NASA's IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) spacecraft. The fairing connects to the nose of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket that will lift the solar observatory into orbit. The work is taking place in a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where IRIS is being prepared for launch on a Pegasus XL rocket.Scheduled for launch from Vandenberg on June 26, 2013, IRIS will open a new window of discovery by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromospheres and transition region into the sun's corona using spectrometry and imaging. IRIS fills a crucial gap in our ability to advance studies of the sun-to-Earth connection by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the foundation of the corona and the region around the sun known as the heliosphere.Photo Credit: NASA/Tony Vauclin
Categories: Science & Nature

In the Vortex of Power

Tue, 06/11/2013 - 04:00
John Wargo, lead technician at NASA Glenn's Propulsion System Laboratory (PSL) is performing an inspection on the inlet ducting, upstream of the Honeywell ALF 502 engine that was recently used for the NASA Engine Icing Validation test. This test allows engine manufacturers to simulate flying through the upper atmosphere where large amounts of icing particles can be ingested and cause flame outs or a loss of engine power on aircraft. This test was the first of its kind in the world and was highly successful in validating PSL's new capability. No other engine test facility has this capability. Glenn is working with industry to address this aviation issue by establishing a capability that will allow engines to be operated at the same temperature and pressure conditions experienced in flight, with ice particles being ingested into full scale engines to simulate flight through a deep convective cloud. The information gained through performing these tests will also be used to establish test methods and techniques for the study of engine icing in new and existing commercial engines, and to develop data required for advanced computer codes that can be specifically applied to assess an engine's susceptibility to icing in terms of its safety, performance and operability. Image Credit: NASA Bridget R. Caswell (Wyle Information Systems, LLC)
Categories: Science & Nature

Targeting Earth Photographs From Orbit

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 04:00
Inside the Cupola, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, an Expedition 36 flight engineer, uses a 400mm lens on a digital still camera to photograph a target of opportunity on Earth some 250 miles below him and the International Space Station. Cassidy has been aboard the orbital outpost since late March and will continue his stay into September.Image Credit: NASA
Categories: Science & Nature

The Butterfly Nebula

Fri, 06/07/2013 - 04:00
The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp and colorful close-up of the dying star's nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, installed during the final shuttle servicing mission. Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot star's dusty cosmic shroud. NGC 6302 lies about 4,000 light-years away in the arachnologically correct constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius). Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble
Categories: Science & Nature

Rocket Launches from Wallops Flight Facility

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 04:00
A NASA Black Brant XII suborbital rocket streaks into the night sky following its launch at 11:05 p.m. EDT on June 5, 2013 from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket carried the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER) to an altitude of approximately 358 miles above the Atlantic Ocean by the four-stage rocket. The launch, seen here with multiple stages firing off, was reportedly seen from as far away as central New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern North Carolina. With CIBER, scientists are studying when the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe and how brightly they burned their nuclear fuel. Image Credit: NASA/Jamie Adkins
Categories: Science & Nature

Infrared Light Reveals Tornado's Path

Wed, 06/05/2013 - 04:00
On May 20, 2013, central Oklahoma was devastated by a EF-5 tornado, the most severe on the enhanced Fujita scale. The Newcastle-Moore tornado killed at least 24 people, injured 377, and affected nearly 33,000 in some way. Early estimates suggest that more then $2 billion in damage was done to public and private property; at least 13,000 structures were destroyed or damaged. It was the deadliest tornado in the United States since an EF-5 event killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011. On June 2, 2013, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed the scar of that tornado on the Oklahoma landscape. In this false-color image, infrared, red, and green wavelengths of light have been combined to better distinguish between water, vegetation, bare ground, and human developments. Water is blue. Buildings and paved surfaces are blue-gray. Vegetation is red. The tornado track appears as a beige stripe running west to east across this image; the color reveals the lack of vegetation in the wake of the storm. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was on the ground for 39 minutes, ripping across 17 miles (27 kilometers) from 4.4 miles west of Newcastle to 4.8 miles east of Moore, Oklahoma. At its peak, the funnel cloud was 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) wide and wind speeds reached 210 miles (340 km) per hour. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
Categories: Science & Nature