April 24th, 2012
12:20 PM ET

Incredible views of Northern Lights

Today CNN received two amazing new videos of the Northern Lights. One is a view from space, and one is a little closer to home. If you’ve never seen the lights in person then this is the next-best thing. In case you didn’t know, the Aurora Borealis is caused when a solar wind (electrically charged particles emitted by the sun) interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field. These videos make it look more like a work of art than a reaction caused by a solar wind. Have you seen the Northern Lights? Send us your stories in the comments below.

Stars from space – NASA has released an awe-inspiring time-lapse video of Earth taken from the international space station. The Expedition 30 crew captured everything from haunting Northern Lights to stunning thunderstorms over Africa. This will give you a whole new perspective on Earth. Be sure to watch those thunderstorms at :33, and see the Comet Lovejoy around 1:30.

FULL POST

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Filed under: On Earth • Severe Weather
'Godspeed,' happy anniversary, John Glenn!
February 17th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

'Godspeed,' happy anniversary, John Glenn!

NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first American in orbit.  

Back in 1959, NASA selected John Glenn as one of the original group of seven astronauts for the Mercury program. 

Three years later, he blasted off to the famous words, "Godspeed John Glenn," becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. To honor this landmark, we’re taking a look back at Glenn’s historic flights into space.

First American to circle the Earth

On February 20, 1962, Glenn made his famous journey around the planet aboard NASA's Friendship 7 spacecraft. During the nearly five-hour mission, he circled the globe three times. The mission wasn't perfect. A trouble indicator light warned that a clamp holding the spacecraft's heat shield had been released too early. Mission controllers feared that the heat shield was loose. The shield was meant to protect Glenn's spacecraft from burning up during re-entry. As a safety measure, a "retropack" that would normally have been jettisoned was allowed to stay on the spacecraft to hold the heat shield. It turned out that warning light was a false alarm. Glenn splashed down safely to much fanfare at home. Watch the incredible archival footage of this historic trip.

Oldest astronaut

Glenn made headlines again in 1998 when he rejoined NASA at age 77 to become the oldest person ever to go into space. Glenn’s trip aboard the shuttle Discovery helped NASA learn about the effects of space flight on older people. Watch him quip about breaking a hip in space.

American legend

Friday, at age 90, Glenn joined fellow “Mercury Seven” astronaut Scott Carpenter to reminisce about their adventures and reflect on the U.S. space program. Appropriately, it was Carpenter who announced those famous words a half century ago: "Godspeed John Glenn." Learn just how dangerous their missions were and what types of concerns that scientists had about Glenn’s health.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNLightYears

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • In Space • On this Day • People in Orbit
Gotta Watch: How we got to the moon
November 16th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Gotta Watch: How we got to the moon

The first moon landing was one of the nation’s most historic must-see events. An estimated 600 million people around the world tuned in to see Apollo 11 touch down on the moon. Today, the astronauts who flew to the moon are making a rare joint appearance to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, along with former senator and astronaut John Glenn. You’ve no doubt seen the moon landing footage. Now go behind the scenes and learn more about what it took to get Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon.

Cutting edge – The computer on the lunar module had 36k of memory—that’s less than a calculator holds now. Check out the giant technological leaps we’ve made since that historic trip.

FULL STORY from CNN's Just In

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Filed under: In Space

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