Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are fortunate enough to see the world at night on every orbit of the Earth a total of 16-times each day. One astronaut managed to capture this broad, short-lens view, looking out over the remotest central equatorial Pacific Ocean, approximately 1620 miles south of Hawaii. You can see the Milky Way angle across the view from the left margin up to the top right corner, where it is masked by parts of the ISS, and the view is toward the center of the Milky Way galaxy. All of the dark patches you see are dense dust clouds in an inner spiral arm of our galaxy that block our view of stars toward the center. Read more for additional images captured from the ISS.
NASA’s Dragonfly is a planned spacecraft and mission that will send a mobile robotic drone lander to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. It will be used to study prebiotic chemistry and extraterrestrial habitability at various locations where it will perform vertical-takeoffs and landings (VTOL). This moon is unique in having an abundant, complex, and diverse carbon-rich chemistry on the surface of a water-ice-dominated world with an interior water ocean. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has just captured a new image of Saturn and it showcases the details of its ring system, which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings. The gas giant was observed on June 20, 2019, as the planet made its closest approach to Earth, or around 845-million miles away. This image is also the second in an annual series of snapshots taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are experimenting mixing cement, a key ingredient in concrete, outside of Earth’s gravity for the very first time to understand how it hardens under microgravity. When mixed with water, cement forms a crystallized micro-structure that binds everything together as it dries, and is well-suited to life on Mars. If the experiment is successful, this would mean future astronauts could simply make concrete by mixing cement with rocks and dust (or moon dust) on Mars. Read more for a video and additional information.
Despite being much larger than Earth with a radiation environment, an exoplanet called K2-18b had detected water vapor signatures detected for the first time in the atmosphere of a planet beyond our solar system that resides in a habitable zone. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found water vapor in the atmosphere of K2-18b, an exoplanet orbiting a small red dwarf star about 110 light-years away in the constellation Leo. Once confirmed, this will be the first and only exoplanet known to have both water in its atmosphere as well as temperatures that could sustain liquid water on a rocky surface. Read more for a video and additional information.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) officially announced today that it has custom-built a new supercomputer, called Aitken, for NASA’s Ames Research Center to support modeling and simulations of entry, descent, and landing (EDL) for the agency’s missions and Artemis program. This mission aims to land the next humans on the lunar South Pole region by 2024. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA has just released new photographs of Jupiter that give us a rare glimpse beneath the swirling clouds during its storms that have been disturbing the planet’s colorful bands. The radio wave images above made it possible for scientists to look deep into the atmospheric conditions below Jupiter’s colorful ammonia clouds after an “energetic eruption” took place 31-miles underneath the surface, similar to Earth’s thunderstorms, complete with lightning. Read more for a video and additional information.
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars Rover, set to arrive on the Red Planet by March 2021, has just been equipped with an “alien-hunting” camera designed to observe locations where evidence of past or current extraterrestrial life may be lurking. It’s officially called the PanCam camera array and is capable of seeing both visible light as well as near-infrared wavelengths. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s atmospheric scientists managed to capture a rare sight on August 8, 2019, when their DC-8 flying laboratory passed directly through a large fire cloud, or scientifically speaking, a pyrocumulonimbus, rising from a wildfire in eastern Washington. The flight was part of a joint NOAA and NASA field campaign called FIREX-AQ to study the composition and chemistry of smoke to better understand its impact on air quality and climate. Read more for the full image and additional information.
NASA has just confirmed details about the next phase of their Europa Clipper mission, which means it’s set to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload. Once launched, it will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and investigate whether this icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life. Read more for a video and additional information.