LAGEOS I, 1976
May 6th, 2013
11:26 AM ET

LAGEOS I, 1976

"The LAGEOS I, Laser Geodynamics Satellite, was launched on May 4, 1976 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The two-foot diameter, 900-pound satellite orbited the Earth from pole to pole and measured the movements of the Earth's surface relative to earthquakes, continental drift, and other geophysical phenomena.

The mirrored surface of the satellite precisely reflected laser beams from ground stations for accurate ranging measurements. Scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. came up with the idea for the satellite and built it at the Marshall Center."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
April 30th, 2013
12:43 PM ET

Saturn shows off spectacular storm

By Sophia Dengo, CNN

NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned a stunning image of a hurricane on Saturn's northern pole. The shot (pictured above) was taken on November 27 and is one of the first views of Saturn's north pole lit by the sun.

The colors in the image are not the real ones.  They represent projections of various wavelengths of near-infrared light. Red is used to represent low clouds, and green indicates high clouds.

Scientists don't know how long this storm, which has an eye that measures 1,250 miles across, with cloud speeds as fast as 330 mph, has been active. The last time the planet's north pole was imaged in 2004, it was in darkness.

According to NASA, images were taken with a narrow-angle camera on Cassini, "using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light."

Studying this storm may lead scientists to new insights about hurricanes on Earth.

Cassini is one part of the Cassini-Huygens mission operated by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Read more about it here, here and here.

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Filed under: Light up the screen
Apollo 13: LIFE With the Lovell Family During ‘NASA’s Finest Hour’
Not published in LIFE. From left: Astronauts Pete Conrad and Buzz Aldrin; James Lovell's mother, Blanch; Barbara Lovell (chin in hand); Neil Armstrong (standing); Jeffrey, Marilyn and Susan Lovell, all watching TV at the Lovell home during the Apollo 13 crisis, April 1970.
April 17th, 2013
11:46 AM ET

Apollo 13: LIFE With the Lovell Family During ‘NASA’s Finest Hour’

Life.com has published a gallery of images of astronaut Jim Lovell's home and family during Apollo 13, which returned safely to earth on this date in 1970.

View the full gallery at LIFE.com

Filed under: Light up the screen
Pioneer 11 Image of Saturn and Its Moon Titan
April 10th, 2013
11:03 AM ET

Pioneer 11 Image of Saturn and Its Moon Titan

"The Pioneer 11 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral forty years ago, on April 5, 1973. Pioneer 11's path through Saturn's outer rings took it within 21,000 km of the planet, where it discovered two new moons (almost smacking into one of them in September 1979) and a new "F" ring. The spacecraft also discovered and charted the magnetosphere, magnetic field and mapped the general structure of Saturn's interior. The spacecraft's instruments measured the heat radiation from Saturn's interior and found that its planet-sized moon, Titan, was too cold to support life.

This image from Pioneer 11 shows Saturn and its moon Titan. The irregularities in ring silhouette and shadow are due to technical anomalies in the preliminary data later corrected. At the time this image was taken, Pioneer was 2,846,000 km (1,768,422 miles) from Saturn."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
New York City at Night
April 9th, 2013
11:02 AM ET

New York City at Night

"One of the Expedition 35 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station exposed this 400 millimeter night image of the greater New York City metropolitan area on March 23, 2013.

For orientation purposes, note that Manhattan runs horizontal through the frame from left to the midpoint. Central Park is just a little to the left of frame center."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Graceful Eruption
March 28th, 2013
11:45 AM ET

Graceful Eruption

"A solar prominence began to bow out and the broke apart in a graceful, floating style in a little less than four hours (Mar. 16, 2013). The sequence was captured in extreme ultraviolet light. A large cloud of the particles appeared to hover further out above the surface before it faded away."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Sizzling Remains of a Dead Star
January 9th, 2013
11:54 AM ET

Sizzling Remains of a Dead Star

"This new view of the historical supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, located 11,000 light-years away, was taken by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. Blue indicates the highest energy X-ray light, where NuSTAR has made the first resolved image ever of this source. Red and green show the lower end of NuSTAR's energy range, which overlaps with NASA's high-resolution Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Light from the stellar explosion that created Cassiopeia A is thought to have reached Earth about 300 years ago, after traveling 11,000 years to get here. While the star is long dead, its remains are still bursting with action. The outer blue ring is where the shock wave from the supernova blast is slamming into surrounding material, whipping particles up to within a fraction of a percent of the speed of light. NuSTAR observations should help solve the riddle of how these particles are accelerated to such high energies

X-ray light with energies between 10 and 20 kiloelectron volts are blue; X-rays of 8 to 10 kiloelectron volts are green; and X-rays of 4.5 to 5.5 kiloelectron volts are red.

The starry background picture is from the Digitized Sky Survey."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Robonaut Operates Task Board in Space
January 7th, 2013
10:26 AM ET

Robonaut Operates Task Board in Space

"In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, Robonaut 2 is pictured on Jan. 2, during a round of testing for the first humanoid robot in space. Ground teams put Robonaut through its paces as they remotely commanded it to operate valves on a task board.

Robonaut is a testbed for exploring new robotic capabilities in space, and its form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools and control panels as its human counterparts do aboard the station."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Happy holidays from Saturn
December 20th, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Happy holidays from Saturn

Remember Cassini? It's the spacecraft launched in 1997 by NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency, meant to study Saturn and its moons. More than a decade after its launch, Cassini has returned beautiful images of Saturn, including this rare photo of Saturn, backlit by the sun so that the planet and its rings are highlighted.

You can also see Saturn's moons, Enceladus and Tethys, on the left side of the planet as two tiny white dots.

What makes this picture so rare? It's an enhanced-color view of the planet, comprised of photos taken using red, infrared and violet filters using Cassini's wide-angle camera. That in itself isn't rare, but the backlighting of the planet is: Photos like these can only be taken when Cassini is in Saturn's shadow.

In 2006, Cassini sent home another backlit shot, in which our own planet makes an appearance, titled "In Saturn's Shadow."

Want this one in all its high-resolution beauty? Happy holidays!

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Filed under: In Space • Light up the screen
Driving on the Moon
December 11th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

Driving on the Moon

"Forty years ago today on Dec. 11, 1972, astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander, makes a short checkout of the lunar rover during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. This view of the 'stripped down' rover is prior to loading up. Equipment later loaded onto the rover included the ground-controlled television assembly, the lunar communications relay unit, hi-gain antenna, low-gain antenna, aft tool pallet, lunar tools and scientific gear.

This photograph was taken by scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot. The mountain in the right background is the east end of South Massif. While astronauts Cernan and Schmitt descended in the Lunar Module 'Challenger' to explore the moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules 'America' in lunar orbit."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen • the Moon
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