The SpaceX Dragon has splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after a three-week flight to the International Space Station, completing the first commercial cargo mission to Earth's orbit, NASA announced Sunday.
The unmanned capsule came down about 250 miles west of Baja California at 3:22 p.m., the space agency reported. The craft was launched October 7, the first of a dozen flights to the space station planned under a contract with NASA.
The craft carried nearly 900 pounds of supplies to the station and returned with nearly 1,700 pounds of freight, mostly used hardware and scientific research material. The reusable craft has been loaded onto a ship and was carried back to shore Sunday afternoon, SpaceX said.
"A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 3:22 p.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station.
The Dragon capsule will be taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Returning with the Dragon capsule was 1,673 pounds of cargo, including 866 pounds of scientific research. Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for analysis."Source: NASA
"The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the faint irregular galaxy NGC 3738, a starburst galaxy. The galaxy is in the midst of a violent episode of star formation, during which it is converting reservoirs of hydrogen gas located in the galaxy’s center into stars. Hubble spots this gas glowing red around NGC 3738, one of the most distinctive signs of ongoing star formation.
Lying in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear), NGC 3738 is located about 12 million light-years from the sun, and belongs to the Messier 81 group of galaxies. This galaxy — first observed by astronomer William Herschel back in 1789 — is a nearby example of a blue compact dwarf, the faintest type of starburst galaxy. Blue compact dwarfs are small compared to large spiral galaxies — NGC 3738 is around 10,000 light-years across, just one tenth of the size of the Milky Way.
This type of galaxy is blue in appearance by virtue of containing large clusters of hot, massive stars, which ionize the surrounding interstellar gas with their intense ultraviolet radiation. They are relatively faint and appear to be irregular in shape. Unlike spirals or elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies do not have any distinctive features, such as a nuclear bulge or spiral arms. Rather, they are extremely chaotic in appearance. These galaxies are thought to resemble some of the earliest that formed in the Universe and may provide clues as to how stars appeared shortly after the Big Bang.
This image was created by combining visual and infrared images taken with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The field of view of the Wide Field Channel is approximately 3.4 by 3.4 arcminutes wide."Source: NASA