Photo credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/NASA/ESA, M.H. Wong and I. de Pater (UC Berkeley) et al.
NOIR Lab has just released incredible new images of Jupiter captured by of Gemini North and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope that showcase the planet in infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. These wavelengths of light reveal details in atmospheric features such as the Great Red Spot, superstorms, and the massive cyclones stretching across the planet’s disk. Read more for a short video and additional information.
NASA’s Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to enter interstellar space after crossing the heliosphere’s boundary on August 25, 2012, and since then, it has transmitted back some fascinating data, including a faint, monotone plasma hum. More specifically, this is the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas, and will allow scientists to better understand how the interstellar medium interacts with the solar wind. Read more for two videos and additional information.
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has already spent 5-years in space, and it has started its journey back to Earth with samples asteroid Bennu. At approximately 4:23 p.m. EDT on May 10, 2021, OSIRIS-REx fired its main engines full throttle for seven minutes, thrusting the spacecraft away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour for a 2.5-year cruise towards Earth. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Ever wonder how a spacecraft on another planet sounds? You’re in luck, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used one of its two microphones to record the sounds of the Ingenuity helicopter as it flew for the fourth time on April 30, 2021. Perseverance was parked approximately 262-feet from the helicopter’s takeoff and landing spot, but despite the helicopter’s blades spinning at 2,537 rpm, the sound is muffled by the thin Martian atmosphere. Read more for the video and additional information.
NASA announced today that it has awarded a contract to Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. of Burlington, Massachusetts, for a national campaign of community overflight tests using Lockheed Martin’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology research aircraft. It’s powered by a single General Electric F414 capable of reaching Mach 1.5 (990 mph) and cruise at Mach 1.42 (940 mph) at 55,000 ft with 22,000 lbf of thrust. Read more for two videos and additional information.
When NASA’s Parker Solar Probe briefly swung by Venus, it detected a natural radio signal that revealed the spacecraft had flown through the planet’s upper atmosphere, which marks the first direct measurement of the Venusian atmosphere in nearly 30 years. Unlike Earth, Venus lacks a magnetic field, and its surface is hot enough to melt lead. There have been a spacecraft that have landed, but all only survived a couple hours at most. Read more for a video and additional information.
To close out May 4, 2021, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured what appears to be a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see in the center of the image, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space. What may surprise you is that his celestial lightsaber is actually located in the Milky Way Galaxy, inside a turbulent Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away. Read more for a video and additional information.
The incredible-looking “Necklace Nebula” is located approximately 15,000 light-years away from Earth in the small, dim constellation of Sagitta (the Arrow) and caused by the interaction of two dying stars that formed a spectacular ring surrounded by bright clumps of gas. Technically speaking, this pair of tightly orbiting Sun-like stars created the Necklace Nebula (PN G054.203.4) when one of the aging stars expanded and engulfed its smaller companion, creating a “common envelope,” roughly 10,000 years ago. Read more for a video on the necklace nebula and additional information.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has now become the fastest man-made object ever built as it starts its eighth science-gathering solar encounter. When it reached its closest approach, called perihelion, on April 29th, Parker Solar Probe came within about 6.5 million miles of the Sun’s surface, while moving faster than 330,000 miles per hour, setting new records for both speed and solar proximity. Read more for two videos about the Parker Solar Probe, including on why it doesn’t melt.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope provides astronomers with a rare look at a Jupiter-sized, still-forming planet that feeds off material surrounding a young star. Named PDS 70b, this giant exoplanet orbits the orange dwarf star PDS 70, which already has two actively forming planets inside a huge disk of dust and gas encircling the star. This system is located 370 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Read more for a video and additional information.