Archive for the THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE Category

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on January 11, 2016 by 2eyeswatching

Post 5010

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

 http://gizmodo.com/the-latest-images-from-ceres-show-off-a-stunningly-beau-1752094118

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

The Dawn spacecraft has been hard at work orbiting Ceres, and over the last week, it’s sent back some stunning images of our closest dwarf planet.

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

This view of Ceres from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows Tupo Crater (22 miles, 36 kilometers wide), at upper left, with its sharp rim and prominent central peak.

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

This image of Ceres, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, shows terrain in the southern hemisphere within the large crater called Yalode. The prominent crater at top-right is called Lono. The crater directly below it is called Besua.

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

This image of Ceres, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, shows Sintana Crater (36 miles, 58 kilometers wide) at top, just right of center. The rim of a large crater called Zadeni (80 miles, 128 kilometers wide), is seen at the bottom of the image.

The Latest Images From Ceres Show Off A Stunningly Beautiful Cratered Surface

This image of Ceres, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, shows cratered terrain at high northern latitudes. Ghanan Crater is seen at upper-right. A distinctive flow feature extends into the crater from its northern rim.

These images are stunningly beautiful, and shows off just how much punishment the dwarf planet has taken out in the Asteroid belt. It’s seen a lot of impacts, that’s for sure.

All images and captions: Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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I Spy: Satellites Capture ABCs from Space (Photos)

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on January 3, 2016 by 2eyeswatching

Post 5004

I Spy: Satellites Capture ABCs from Space (Photos)

Sometimes, looking at satellite images of planet Earth is a bit like playing hidden pictures.

A few years ago, NASA science writer Adam Voiland noticed that a satellite image of smoke plumes over Canada looked like the letter “V.” Eager to play a worldwide game of hidden pictures, he began compiling images of all 26 letters in the English alphabet found in photos taken by NASA satellites and astronauts, hesaid in NASA Earth Observatory post.

Now, Voiland has a collection of natural wonders, including clouds, phytoplankton blooms and dust clouds, that look like the ABCs. The assemblage is a work in progress; he encourages anyone who can find a better letter, be it cursive or script, to contact NASA with the date, latitude and longitude. (Image credits: NASA) [Photos: Stunning Views of US National Parks from Space]

A

A from ISS

Bowknot Bend, a portion of Utah’s Green River doubling back on itself, looks like a lowercase, cursive “A.” Rafters journeying on the Green River will travel about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) around the loop before coming back to nearly the same spot. An astronaut on the International Space Station took this photo on Jan. 22, 2014.


B

B from OLI on Landsat 8

The letter “B” comes into view in this image of the Arkansas River and the Holla Bend Wildlife Refuge. During wintertime, as many as 100,000 ducks and geese take shelter in the refuge, Voiland said. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 took this image on Aug. 4, 2014.


C

C from the ISS

Can you see the “C”? These man-made tropical islands are located at the southern end of Bahrain Island off of the Persian Gulf. An astronaut snapped this photo on Jan. 23, 2011.


D

D from Enhanced Thematic Mapper on Landsat 7

Don’t blink, or you might miss this uppercase, outlined “D” in an image of Akimiski Island, located in Canada’s James Bay. The Enhanced Thematic Mapper on Landsat 7 captured this image on Aug. 9, 2000.


E

E from MODIS' Aqua satellite

This swirly, lowercase “E” is actually a phytoplankton bloom off the east coast of New Zealand. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image on Oct. 25, 2009.


F

F from OLI on Landsat 8

Fly to Tibet to see the letter “F.” This false-color image shows the valleys and snow-topped mountain ranges in southeastern Tibet. Fittingly, “F” helps spell the word “firn,” a granular kind of snow that is found on the top of glaciers before it is compressed into ice.

The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on Aug. 4, 2014.


G

G from ISS

This uppercase G is actually Pinaki Island, a 1.8-mile by 1.2-mile island (3 by 2 km) located in the Pacific Ocean’s French Polynesia. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took the photo in April 2001.


H

H from OLI on Landsat 8

Hop on over to southwestern Kyrgyzstan to see rivers running through these colorful ridges. The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on Aug. 30, 2014.


I

I from MODIS' Terra satellite

Always remember to dot your i’s. The lowercase “I” seen here captures the beauty of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal between India and Myanmar. The thin, bright rings around several of the islands are coral reefs that the 9.1-magnitude earthquake in 2004 pushed up and out of the water, Voiland said.

The MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite took this image on Feb. 10, 2007.


J

J from OLI on Landsat 8

There’s nothing jejune about this “J”-looking reef, known as the Trunk Reef and located near Townsville, Australia. The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on July 17, 2015.


K

K from OLI on Landsat 8

The glaciers at the Sirmilik National Park form this beautiful “K” in Pond Inlet, or Mittimatalik, Canada. The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on Aug. 3, 2015.


L

L from MODIS' Aqua satellite

Snowfall in the northeastern United States created this unique “L.” The MODIS on the Aqua satellite acquired this image on Oct. 30, 2008.


M

M from OLI on Landsat 8

This fancy “M” shows the glaciers of the Tian Shan mountains in northeastern Kyrgyzstan. The brown sediment within the upper part of the “M” is called medial moraine, which describes sediment that piles up in the middle of merging glaciers, Voiland said.

The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on Aug. 14, 2015.


N

N from MODIS' Terra satellite

These “N”-shaped clouds aren’t made by planes, but rather by ships crossing the Pacific Ocean. Called ship tracks, these clouds take shape when ships release small gas particles of exhaust. The particles waft up to the sky and trigger cloud formation.

The MODIS on the Terra satellite took this image on March 4, 2009.


O

O from ASTER on Terra satellite

The Tenoumer meteorite crater in the northwestern African country of Mauritania looks exactly like an “O.” However, the meteorite is much younger than the one that killed the dinosaurs about 65.5 million years ago. Scientists say the Tenoumer meteorite is likely between 10,000 and 30,000 years old, Voiland said.

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite took this image on Jan. 24, 2008.


P

P from ASTER on Terra satellite

A false-color image of the Mackenzie River Delta in Canada shows the letter “P.” The Mackenzie River is Canada’s longest river, at about 1,080 miles (1,738 km). The ASTER sensor on the Terra satellite took this image on Aug. 4, 2005.


Q

Q from ASTER on Terra satellite

The Lonar crater in India contains shocked quartz, a hint suggesting that a large meteorite created the crater after slamming into Earth. Shocked quartz forms when the mineral is under intense pressure.

This “Q” was acquired by the ASTER on NASA’s Terra satellite on Nov. 29, 2004.


R

R from OLI on Landsat 8

Argentina’s Lago Menendez looks like a lowercase “R.” The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on Jan. 20, 2015.


S

S from MODIS' Terra satellite

This whirly “S” looks like one of Vincent Van Gogh’s textured paintings, but is actually an image of clouds blowing over the Atlantic Ocean. The MODIS on the Terra satellite took this image on April 29, 2009.


T

T from MODIS' Terra satellite

I spy two green roads meeting at a “T” in the United Arab Emirates. The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on March 9, 2015.


U

U from Ikonos satellite

The San Juan River meanders through the sandstone at Goosenecks State Park in southeastern Utah. The image, taken by the Ikonos satellite on May 9, 2004, shows that the river is surrounded by canyon walls more than 1,000 feet (304 meters) high, according to NASA Earth Observatory.


V

V from OLI on Landsat 8

Ash makes the letter “V” as it covers the snow on Shiveluch, one of Russia’s largest and most active volcanoes. The OLI on Landsat 8 took this image on March 23, 2015.


W

W from MODIS' Terra satellite

This cursive “W” is actually dust blowing high above the Red Sea in the Middle East. The MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on Jan. 13, 2009.


X

X from ASTER on Terra satellite

“X” marks the spot in this false-color image of the northwest corner of the Leidy Glacier in Greenland. The ASTER on NASA’s Terra satellite took this image on Aug. 7, 2012.


Y

Y from ASTER on Terra satellite

These colorful streaks were added after the picture was taken, but nonetheless the Ugab River in Namibia still looks like a “Y.” The ASTER on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image on Dec. 25, 2000.


Z

Z from MODIS' Aqua satellite

A wildfire over Canada produced this “Z”-like smoke pattern in July 2012. The MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this image from space.

Follow Laura Geggel on Twitter @LauraGeggel. Follow Live Science@livescience,Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover just snapped a picture of something that’s unlike anything it encountered before

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on December 30, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4989

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover just snapped a picture of something that’s unlike anything it encountered before

Pluto’s moon Charon captured in stunning detail

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on December 20, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4968

Pluto’s moon Charon captured in stunning detail

http://www.gizmag.com/charon-pluto-new-horizons-images/39686/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

Image of Pluto's moon Charon, taken by New Horizons. This new high-resolution image taken by the ...

Image of Pluto’s moon Charon, taken by New Horizons. This new high-resolution image taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) contains geological features down to a scale of 1.8 miles (2.9 km) (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

NASA has released the highest resolution images to date of Pluto’s moon Charon. The images were taken by the New Horizons spacecraft during its July 14 flyby of the dwarf planet, and are part of an ongoing data transfer that will see tens of gigabits of data returned over the course of the next 12 months.

Charon and Pluto are an odd couple. For a moon, the rocky body is unusually large when compared to its host, with the satellite boasting a diameter of 754 miles (1,214 km), around half the size of Pluto.

As was the case with Pluto, the images of Charon returned by New Horizons display an unexpectedly diverse and complex array of surface features, including the moon’s distinctively colored north polar region, which appears to mimic the reddish hue present on the dwarf planet.

Prominently represented in the images is an extensive region of canyons and fractured terrain that scar the surface of Charon for over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) above the equator – roughly four times the length of the Grand Canyon.

“It looks like the entire crust of Charon has been split open,” says John Spencer, deputy lead for GGI at the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “With respect to its size relative to Charon, this feature is much like the vast Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars.”

The images also highlight a region to the south of the equator that appears unusually smooth and unmarked by larger craters, hinting at a violent past of extreme geological instability.

The New Horizons science team is currently working with the theory that at some point in the ancient past, a sub-surface ocean may have have frozen, with the resultant increase in volume forcing the crust of the moon to split open. From these fissures, large quantities of water-based lava could have covered and resurfaced areas of the moon in a process known as cryovolcanism.

According to NASA, the intrepid spacecraft is currently in good condition roughly 3.1 billion miles (5 billion km) from Earth. As the downlink from New Horizons continues, we are sure to receive ever higher-resolution images of the enigmatic moon.

Scroll down for an animated flyby of Charon courtesy of NASA.

Source: NASA

Everything You Need to Know About Cassini’s Final Enceladus Flyby

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on December 20, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4959

Everything You Need to Know About Cassini’s Final Enceladus Flyby

 http://gizmodo.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cassinis-final-encela-1748262233

An important chapter in our exploration of the solar system concludes tomorrow, when NASA’s Cassini probe makes its final close flyby of Enceladus, an icy moon orbiting Saturn with a global ocean beneath its surface. Cassini has alreadycollected samples to determine if Enceladus’ seawater might be habitable—but we still have some unfinished business with this tiny Saturnian satellite.

On December 19th at 9:49 a.m. PST (12:49 p.m. EST), Cassini will zip within 3,106 miles (4,999 km) of Enceladus’ south polar terrain, where curtains of ocean spraysurge into space at a rip-roaring 800 miles per hour, feeding Saturn’s E-ring. It’ll be the 22nd time Cassini has flown by Enceladus since entering Saturn’s orbit in 2004. While it isn’t our closest pass by a long-shot—we sailed within 16 miles of the moon’s surface in 2008, and took another deep dive thorough its south polar plume this past October—tomorrow’s flyby distance was carefully selected to answer a critical question: how much heat is emanating from Enceladus’ ocean?

http://gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-E_ZVYpKmQBE&start=0

“Measuring the heat from the south pole is a very important constraint on how much heat there is in the interior,” Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Gizmodo in a phone interview. And determining how hot the moon’s core is will help astrobiologists figure out whether Enceladus really can support life.

A mere 301 miles (484 km) in diameter, Enceladus is a complex, geologically active moon with thick outer ice shell and a rocky core kept warm through the gravitational tug of Saturn and another moon, Dione. Sandwiched between icy crust and rocky interior is a globe-spanning ocean that’s become one of the most interesting places to hunt for life beyond Earth.

Best of all, cracks in the moon’s south pole ice sheet are shooting jets of frozen saltwater into space—free samples for any curious space probes who happen to be in the neighborhood. In October, Cassini took a deep plunge through that south pole plume, passing within 30 miles (48 km) of Enceladus’ surface to collect a droplet of alien ocean water.

Scientists are hard at work analyzing the October sample’s chemistry, and hope to announce their findings within the coming months. “We’re really looking forward to completing the mass spec analysis of molecular hydrogen,” Spilker said. Molecular hydrogen, or H2, is a simple energy source that feeds microbial communities living in deep sea vents on Earth today, and if we find it on Enceladus, that’d be a big deal.

Everything You Need to Know About Cassini's Final Enceladus Flyby

Conceptual model of Enceladus’ south pole. A hot, rocky core maintains a liquid ocean layer beneath the moon’s thick outer ice sheet. Cracks in that ice sheet release pressurized material from the interior. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Tomorrow’s flyby will add another piece to the habitability puzzle. Life doesn’t just need a chemical energy source, it needs heat. “We now have evidence of nanosilica grains that could only be generated in very hot water, leading us to discuss hydrothermal vents,” Spilker said.

And of all the places to look for hydrothermal activity, the south pole is most promising. For one, it’s currently in the darkness of a years-long Saturnian winter. Without the Sun’s rays striking Enceladus’ surface, scientists will have an easier time detecting heat from the interior. What’s more, recent modeling work indicates that the crust over the south pole is particularly thin. “Maybe that thinner crust means we have a warmer region in the south,” Spilker said.

By angling its Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument at the south pole during tomorrow’s flyby, Cassini should be able to construct a good picture of heat flow across the moon’s splintered surface. “The distance of this flyby is in the sweet spot for us to map the heat coming from within Enceladus—not too close, and not too far away,” said Mike Flasar, CIRS team lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in a statement. “It allows us to map a good portion of the intriguing south polar region at good resolution.”

With the data Cassini collects tomorrow, and all the other science it’s accomplished this past year, we can expect to have a much better picture of Enceladus’ habitability prospects in the near future. One way or another, our discoveries about this little ice moon have been an incredible, and unexpected, outcome of Cassini’s decade-long exploration of Saturn’s rings.

Everything You Need to Know About Cassini's Final Enceladus Flyby

Plume jets rise from Enceladus’ south pole in this Cassini image taken in 2014. In the foreground, you can see the textured, crater-free terrain that’s characteristic of the south polar region. Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team/SSL/JPL/NASA/ESA

“What’s amazing is when we first planned our mission, we had three flybys of Enceladus,” Spilker said. “After the first, when we detected the plume, we essentially reshaped the mission around getting as many as we could.”

“I think over the course of the Cassini mission, we’ve really changed our paradigm of where we might look for life,” she continued. “It’s not just about finding that zone for liquid water on its surface—but finding the right conditions for a liquid ocean, a source of energy, contact with a rocky core.”

Who knows—maybe first contact won’t involve an rocky planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star, but a weird, alien moon, nestled in the shadows of a monstrous gas giant in the frigid reaches of space.

Pluto’s moon Charon captured in stunning detail

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on December 17, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4954

Pluto’s moon Charon captured in stunning detail

http://www.gizmag.com/charon-pluto-new-horizons-images/39686/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

Image of Pluto's moon Charon, taken by New Horizons. This new high-resolution image taken by the ...

Image of Pluto’s moon Charon, taken by New Horizons. This new high-resolution image taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) contains geological features down to a scale of 1.8 miles (2.9 km) (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

NASA has released the highest resolution images to date of Pluto’s moon Charon. The images were taken by the New Horizons spacecraft during its July 14 flyby of the dwarf planet, and are part of an ongoing data transfer that will see tens of gigabits of data returned over the course of the next 12 months.

Charon and Pluto are an odd couple. For a moon, the rocky body is unusually large when compared to its host, with the satellite boasting a diameter of 754 miles (1,214 km), around half the size of Pluto.

As was the case with Pluto, the images of Charon returned by New Horizons display an unexpectedly diverse and complex array of surface features, including the moon’s distinctively colored north polar region, which appears to mimic the reddish hue present on the dwarf planet.

Prominently represented in the images is an extensive region of canyons and fractured terrain that scar the surface of Charon for over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) above the equator – roughly four times the length of the Grand Canyon.

“It looks like the entire crust of Charon has been split open,” says John Spencer, deputy lead for GGI at the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “With respect to its size relative to Charon, this feature is much like the vast Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars.”

The images also highlight a region to the south of the equator that appears unusually smooth and unmarked by larger craters, hinting at a violent past of extreme geological instability.

The New Horizons science team is currently working with the theory that at some point in the ancient past, a sub-surface ocean may have have frozen, with the resultant increase in volume forcing the crust of the moon to split open. From these fissures, large quantities of water-based lava could have covered and resurfaced areas of the moon in a process known as cryovolcanism.

According to NASA, the intrepid spacecraft is currently in good condition roughly 3.1 billion miles (5 billion km) from Earth. As the downlink from New Horizons continues, we are sure to receive ever higher-resolution images of the enigmatic moon.

Scroll down for an animated flyby of Charon courtesy of NASA.

Source: NASA

 

 

What the moon will look like for each day in 2016

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on December 14, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4951

What the moon will look like for each day in 2016

What the moon will look like for each day in 2016

If you want to know exactly what the moon will look like (to those in the northern hemisphere, at least), this video by NASA has got you covered. It tracks all the phases of the moon for 2016, that is you’ll see the moon wax and wane as it corresponds to each day of the year. It’s a really cool look at the movements of the space rock.

Though the moon can look pretty much the same to us down here, there’s a lot of uniqueness to each day.

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-wpHqHapBTsE&start=0

The best solar eclipse videos

The best solar eclipse videos1

A perfect recipe to enjoy the weekend: just watch these videos of today’s solar eclipse over and over again from different locations across our planet and even around the universe. We’ve collected videos from space, from a place that looks like Hoth on Earth and so many more. Even if you missed it earlier, you’ll see it better than ever now.

Here’s video from Proba-2 provided by the ESA:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-GMypli4oLnk&start=0

From Svalbard, which is basically Hoth on Earth:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=vimeo-122763185&start=0

Here’s a clear view from Kaluga:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=vimeo-122773407&start=0

A different view that just shows the momentary darkness caused by the eclipse:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-pRx9qTBHGao&start=0

And BBC’s take from the Faroe Islands:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-iG9GdfL_ToU&start=0

Sky News:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-ICxq4_KjqC4&start=0