Tag Archives: SpaceLabInSpace

Amazing Hubble telescope photo shows space ‘sword’ piercing huge celestial ‘heart’

A flaming blue sword seems to pierce a giant cosmic heart in a gorgeous new photo captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, B. Nisini

This image by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, features the Herbig-Haro object HH111, which lies about 1,300 light-years from Earth. Herbig-Haro objects consist of young stars blasting superheated jets through surrounding clouds of dust and gas. 

The “sword” is composed of twin jets of superheated, ionized gas that are rocketing into space from opposite poles of a newborn star called IRAS 05491+0247. The “heart” is the cloud of leftover dust and gas surrounding the protostar, according to Hubble team members.

This dramatic interaction between jets and cloud creates an uncommon celestial sight known as a Herbig-Haro object. The one photographed here by Hubble is named HH111, and it lies about 1,300 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Orion.

Hubble captured the image using its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument, which observes in both optical and infrared (heat) wavelengths of light. 

“Herbig-Haro objects actually release a lot of light at optical wavelengths, but they are difficult to observe because their surrounding dust and gas absorb much of the visible light,” European Space Agency (ESA) officials wrote in a description of the image, which was released today (Aug. 30).

“Therefore, the WFC3’s ability to observe at infrared wavelengths — where observations are not as affected by gas and dust — is crucial to observing [Herbig]-Haro objects successfully,” they added.

Hubble, a joint mission of NASA and ESA, launched to low Earth orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1990. The first images the iconic observatory captured were fuzzy, a problem that team members soon determined was caused by a flaw in Hubble’s 7.9-foot-wide (2.4 meters) primary mirror.

Spacewalking astronauts fixed that issue in December 1993, and Hubble was further upgraded and maintained over the course of four more servicing missions. The WFC3 instrument was installed during the last of these Hubble-bound space shuttle flights, which took place in May 2009.

Hubble continues to provide amazing views of the cosmos, but it has begun to show its age, and, without the shuttle, astronauts can no longer feasibly access the observatory. (It’s technically possible that a crewed vehicle such as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule could reach Hubble, but that idea apparently has not been seriously investigated.) The telescope has overcome a number of glitches recently, including a computer problem that closed its supersharp eye for more than a month this summer.

By Mike Wall via Space.com

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship docks at space station in time for astronaut’s birthday

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship docks at space station in time for astronaut’s birthday

“No one’s ever sent me a spaceship for my birthday before.”

SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-23 cargo ship is seen with a bright blue Earth as a backdrop by a camera on the International Space Station during its docking approach on Aug. 30, 2021. (Image credit: NASA)

SpaceX’s latest Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) today (Aug. 30) to deliver an experimental robotic arm and a wealth of other research equipment and supplies just in time for one astronaut’s birthday.

“Congratulations to NASA and SpaceX teams and many thanks. No one’s ever sent me a spaceship for my birthday before,” NASA astronaut Megan McArthur radioed Mission Control just after docking. It’s her 50th birthday today. 

“That’s a most excellent birthday present,” NASA’s Mission Control in Houston replied.

The gumdrop-shaped Dragon docked with the station’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) today, ending a 32-hour-orbital chase. The station and Dragon were sailing 264 miles (425 kilometers) above western Australia at the time.

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Dragon launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket early Sunday morning (Aug. 29), kicking off the company’s 23rd robotic resupply mission to the orbiting lab for NASA. The uncrewed Dragon is packed with more than 4,800 lbs. (2,200 kilograms) of supplies and scientific experiments, including a super-dexterous new robotic arm that will get a microgravity test on the orbiting lab.

“This investigation supports development of robots to support crew intravehicular activities and, eventually, extravehicular activities,” team members wrote in a description of the experiment, which is called the GITAI S1 Robotic Arm Tech Demo. “Space robotics also could support on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing tasks, lowering the costs of such tasks and contributing to increased commercial activity in space.”

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Another experiment will test how a tiny drug-delivering implant performs in microgravity, and yet another will gauge the responses of various materials to the space environment.

There are now two Dragons parked at the ISS: the newly arrived cargo capsule and a crewed variant, which brought NASA astronauts McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, Japanese spaceflyer Akihiko Hoshide and the European Space Agency’s Thomas Pesquet to the orbiting lab in April.

Those four astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth in November while their crewmates (NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy) remain aboard to continue their mission. The cargo Dragon will come down sooner; it’s scheduled to spend about a month at the ISS, NASA officials have said.

Both versions of Dragon survive re-entry, making ocean splashdowns under parachutes. This capability separates the resupply Dragon from other currently operational cargo craft, which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their missions are done.

Don’t Miss “Prime Time” for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Don’t Miss “Prime Time” for the Perseid Meteor Shower (By NASA)

Astronomer Fred Bruenjes recorded a series of many 30 second long exposures spanning about six hours on the night of August 11 and early morning of August 12, 2004 using a wide angle lens. Combining those frames which captured meteor flashes, he produced this dramatic view of the Perseids of summer. There are 51 Perseid meteors in the composite image, including one seen nearly head-on. Credit: Fred Bruenjes

The best-known meteor shower of the year should be a good time this year on the peak night of August 11, with no bright Moon to interfere.

August brings the best-known meteor shower of the year, the Perseids. This annual meteor shower happens each year as Earth crosses the debris trail of comet Swift-Tuttle. Most of these meteors are grains of dust up to the size of a pea, and they create fabulous “shooting stars” as they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

We experience the Perseid meteor shower each year as Earth passes through the stream of debris left behind in the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Every August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s orbital debris. This debris field — mostly created hundreds of years ago — consists of bits of ice and dust shed from the comet which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the premier meteor showers of the year.h

Meteor showers appear to radiate from a point called the radiant, though they can streak across the sky anywhere above you. For the Perseids, this point is in the constellation Perseus. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Although Perseids can be seen from mid-July through late August, the most likely time to see any is a couple of days on either side of the peak. This year the peak falls on the night of August 11th, and into the pre-dawn hours of August 12th. (Think of that as “prime time” for the Perseids.) Under really dark skies, you could see almost one per minute near the time of maximum activity.

This year’s peak night for the Perseids benefits from a Moon that sets early in the evening, so it won’t interfere with the fainter meteors. But before it sets that evening, be sure to check out that gorgeous crescent Moon in the west after sunset with the brilliant planet Venus.

On the night the Perseids peak, check out a beautiful scene with the crescent Moon near Venus in the west following sunset. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

To enjoy the Perseid meteor shower, just find a safe, dark location away from bright city lights. Lie down or recline with your feet facing roughly toward the north and look up. The meteors appear to radiate from around the constellation Perseus, but they can streak across the sky anywhere above you.

NASA also has a way for you to catch some Perseids online. NASA’s Meteor Watch team plans a live stream overnight on August 11. Visit this link for more details. 

NASA wants paid volunteers to spend a year living in a 3D-printed Martian habitat in Texas, where they will carry out spacewalks and research using VR tech

An artist’s rendering of astronauts and human habitats on Mars. NASA/JPL

NASA wants paid volunteers to spend a year living in a 3D-printed Martian habitat in Texas, where they will carry out spacewalks and research using VR tech

NASA is looking for applicants to spend a whole year pretending they live on Mars.

The 1,700 square-foot Martian surface is located inside the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas.

These types of simulations are called analog missions. Insider’s Alyssa Pagano reported on the challenges of an eight-month analog mission in 2018.

For the newly announced mission, applications opened on Friday for four people to live on Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed habitat. The US agency is planning three such experiments, with the first one due to begin next fall.’

The paid volunteers will take part in a simulated Martian exploration mission, complete with “spacewalks.” They will only have limited contact with their families and friends back home, and will have to learn to cope with restricted resources and equipment failures.

The news comes as the space agency prepares to eventually transport astronauts to the Red Planet as part of NASA’s Artemis program. That mission aims to set up a station on the moon and eventually send humans to Mars.

Lead scientist Grace Douglas said in a press release: “The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface.”

She added: “Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”

Applicants will need to hold a master’s degree in engineering, maths, or computer science and have at least two years of pilot experience.

The agency also specifies that only US citizens or permanent residents qualify for the experiment. They have to be aged between 30-35 and in good physical health and must not be prone to motion sickness.

Sky News reported that Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said the mission would mean “incredible freedom” in a “year away from the demands of your normal life.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX Just Mounted Starship on Top of the Super Heavy Booster

SpaceX Just Mounted Starship on Top of the Super Heavy Booster (by Victor Tangermann via Off World)

Huge Stack

For the first time, SpaceX has finally stacked a Starship spacecraft prototype on top of a Super Heavy booster.

The dizzying tower stands at 475 feet tall including the orbital launch stand, easily as tall as a skyscraper. In fact, as TechCrunchpoints out, it’s the tallest rocket ever assembled.

It’s a major milestone for the Elon Musk-led company. We’ve never been closer to the space company’s long-awaited first test launch into space.

It’s also the best-ever look we’ve had at SpaceX’s vision for the future of space exploration — and space-based, long-haul transportation.

Going Orbital

The giant stack at the company’s test facilities in South Texas will first be disassembled again for further tests and work before its maiden voyage into orbit, according to TechCrunch.

It’s still unclear when that first orbital test launch will take place. The Federal Aviation Administration is still in the midst of an environmental review that could drag on for weeks if not months.

Whether Musk is willing to wait for that review to be completed is another question. It wouldn’t be the first time the space company went ahead without getting a go-ahead from the regulator.

Either way, the upcoming orbital launch will be a sight to behold. A stunning 29 Raptor engines will ignite at once to deliver the megastructure into the upper atmosphere, where Starship will separate and ignite its own boosters to cruise into orbit.

Australian astronomers capture never-before-seen photos of an exploding giant star – and it’s 100 times bigger than the sun 

Australian astronomers capture never-before-seen photos of an exploding giant star – and it’s 100 times bigger than the sun (via Australian Associate Press)

The imagery of the supernova shows a powerful burst of light as a shock wave travels through the dying star moments before it detonates.

Australian National University astronomer Patrick Armstrong says the event – known as the shock cooling curve – provides clues about what type of star caused the explosion.

“This is the first time anyone has had such a detailed look at a complete shock cooling curve in any supernova,” he said on Thursday.

“We are particularly interested in how the brightness of the light changes over time prior to the explosion.”

The ANU team captured the “major discovery” using NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

“Because the initial stage of a supernova happens so quickly, it is very hard for most telescopes to record this phenomenon,” Mr Armstrong said.

ANU used the new imagery to create a model that helped them identify the exploding star that caused the supernova.

They believe it is most likely a rare yellow supergiant.

Astrophysicist Brad Tucker said astronomers across the world will be able to use the new model, known as SW 17, to identify other stars that turn into supernovas.

Supernovas are the biggest explosion that humans have ever seen, according to NASA.

Each blast is the extremely bright, super-powerful explosion of a star.

They are important because they are believed to be responsible for the creation of most of the elements found in our universe.

Researchers are keen to understand supernovas because they unlock clues about where the elements that make up our universe come from.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9863383/Australian-scientists-captured-moments-exploding-star-supernova.html

How to watch this week’s rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse

The moon moves in front of the sun in a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse as seen from Tanjung Piai, Malaysia on December 26, 2019.SADIQ ASYRAF / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

How to watch this week’s rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse

Last month’s “super flower blood moon” lunar eclipse was hardly the only exciting celestial event of the season. This week brings an even bigger spectacle — a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse.

Thursday morning, June 10, makes the new moon, which will eclipse the sun at 6:53 a.m. ET. To see it, look to the east. 

On June 10, skywatchers all over the world will be able to view the eclipse.

What is an annular solar eclipse? 

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s light. During an annular solar eclipse, the moon does not completely cover the sun as it passes, leaving a glowing ring of sunlight visible.

An annular eclipse can only occur under specific conditions, NASA says. The moon must be in its first lunar phase, and it must also be farther away from Earth in its elliptical orbit, appearing smaller in the sky than it usually would. 

Because the moon appears smaller under these circumstances, it cannot fully block out the sun, forming what’s called a “ring of fire” or “ring of light.” 

“As the pair rises higher in the sky, the silhouette of the Moon will gradually shift off the sun to the lower left, allowing more of the Sun to show until the eclipse ends,” NASA said. 

How to watch the annular solar eclipse

The narrow path of the eclipse will be completely visible in parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean and Siberia. It will be partially visible for much of the rest of northeastern North America, Greenland, Northern Europe and northern Asia. 

From the Washington, D.C. area, the moon will block about 80% of the left side of the sun as they rise together in the east-northeast at 5:42 a.m. The sun will appear as a crescent during this time, NASA says. 

“From any one point along this annular solar eclipse path, the middle or annular or ‘ring of fire’ stage of the eclipse lasts a maximum of 3 minutes 51 seconds,” according to EarthSky

The event will conclude around 6:29 a.m. ET. 

It is essential to wear special solar eclipse glasses to protect your eyes while viewing the celestial phenomenon. Looking directly at the sun is dangerous and can damage your eyes.

This is just one of two solar eclipses in 2021. A total solar eclipse will be visible on December 4. 

And don’t worry if you miss it — you can just catch up with a livestream instead. 

NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’

NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’

This false-color X-ray and radio frequency image made available by NASA on Friday, May 28, 2021 shows threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. X-rays detected by the NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory are in orange, green, blue and purple, and radio data from the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa are shown in lilac and gray. The plane of the galazy is horizontal, in the center of this vertical image. Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this, while stuck at home during the pandemic. (NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang, NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT via AP)
This false-color X-ray and radio frequency image made available by NASA on Friday, May 28, 2021 shows threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. X-rays detected by the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are in orange, green, blue and purple, and radio data from the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa are shown in lilac and gray. The plane of the galazy is horizontal, in the center of this vertical image. Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this, while stuck at home during the pandemic. (NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang, NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has released a stunning new picture of our galaxy’s violent, super-energized “downtown.”

It’s a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, depicting billions of stars and countless black holes in the center, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.

Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this while stuck at home during the pandemic.

‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse will be visible in North America on June 10

‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse will be visible in North America on June 10

  • The full eclipse will last for roughly an hour and 40 minutes. No part of the U.S. will see the full eclipse.
  • The most ideally situated metropolitan areas to view the partial eclipse at sunrise are Toronto, Philadelphia and New York.
  • Solar eclipse glasses must be worn at all times during an annular or partial solar eclipse to avoid the threat of blindness.
The moon appears to cover the sun during an annular eclipse of the sun on May 20, 2012 as seen from Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Nageezi, Ariz.STAN HONDA, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The moon blocked out the sun for part of the Earth on Dec. 14, plunging southern Argentina and Chile into darkness.

Just two weeks after a lunar eclipse, skywatchers are in for another treat in June: A “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse will be visible in parts of North America on June 10. 

The path of the eclipse starts at sunrise in Ontario, Canada (on the north side of Lake Superior), then circles across the northern reaches of the globe, EarthSky’s Bruce McClure said. “Midway along the path, the greatest eclipse occurs at local noon in northern Greenland and then swings by the Earth’s North Pole, and finally ends at sunset over northeastern Siberia,” he said.

The full eclipse will last for roughly an hour and 40 minutes. No part of the U.S. will see the full eclipse.

While the U.S. will miss out on the “ring of fire” part of the eclipse, folks who live along the East Coast and in the Upper Midwest will get a chance to see a partial solar eclipse just after sunrise.