"We find them smaller and fainter, in constantly increasing numbers, and we know that we are reaching into space, farther and farther, until, with the faintest nebulae that can be detected with the greatest telescopes, we arrive at the frontier of the known universe." - Edwin Powell Hubble
Hemispheric View of Venus
The hemispheric view of Venus, as revealed by more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, is centered at 0 degrees east longitude. The Magellan spacecraft imaged more than 98% of Venus at a resolution of about 100 meters; the effective resolution of this image is about 3 km. A mosaic of the Magellan images (most with illumination from the west) forms the image base. Gaps in the Magellan coverage were filled with images from the Earth-based Arecibo radar in a region centered roughly on 0 degree latitude and longitude, and with a neutral tone elsewhere (primarily near the south pole). The composite image was processed to improve contrast and to emphasize small features, and was color-coded to represent elevation. Gaps in the elevation data from the Magellan radar altimeter were filled with altimetry from the Venera spacecraft and the U.S. Pioneer Venus missions. An orthographic projection was used, simulating a distant view of one hemisphere of the planet. The Magellan mission was managed for NASA by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA. Data processed by JPL, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS
This more than twenty billion years timeline of our universe shows the best estimates of the occurrence of events since its beginning, up until anticipated events in the near future. Zero of the scale is the present day. A large step on the scale is one billion years, a small step one hundred million years. The past time have a minus sign, e.g. the oldest rock on Earth was formed about four billion years ago and this is marked at -4e+09 years. The “Big Bang” event happened 13.7 billion years ago.
The molecule known as H3+ is believed to have had a vital role in cooling down the first stars of the universe, and may still play an important part in the formation of current stars. The unassuming molecule known as a triatomic hydrogen ion, or H3+, may hold secrets of the formation of the first stars after the Big Bang.
Happy Cosmonautics Day!
A Fox Fur, a Unicorn, and a Christmas Tree
What do the following things have in common: a cone, the fur of a fox, and a Christmas tree? Answer: they all occur in the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros). Pictured above as a star forming region cataloged as NGC 2264, the complex jumble of cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years distant and mixes reddish emission nebulae excited by energetic light from newborn stars with dark interstellar dust clouds. Where the otherwise obscuring dust clouds lie close to the hot, young stars they also reflect starlight, forming blue reflection nebulae. The above image spans about 3/4 degree or nearly 1.5 full moons, covering 40 light-years at the distance of NGC 2264. Its cast of cosmic characters includes the Fox Fur Nebula, whose convoluted pelt lies below center, bright variable star S Mon immersed in the blue-tinted haze, and the Cone Nebula near the tree’s top. Of course, the stars of NGC 2264 are also known as the Christmas Tree star cluster. The triangular tree shape traced by the stars appears sideways here, with its apex at the Cone Nebula and its broader base centered near S Mon.
Image Credit: Rolf Geissinger
Io: Moon Over Jupiter
How big is Jupiter’s moon Io? The most volcanic body in the Solar System, Io (usually pronounced “EYE-oh”) is 3,600 kilometers in diameter, about the size of planet Earth’s single large natural satellite. Gliding past Jupiter at the turn of the millennium, the Cassini spacecraft captured this awe inspiring view of active Io with the largest gas giant as a backdrop, offering a stunning demonstration of the ruling planet’s relative size. Although in the above picture Io appears to be located just in front of the swirling Jovian clouds, Io hurtles around its orbit once every 42 hours at a distance of 420,000 kilometers or so from the center of Jupiter. That puts Io nearly 350,000 kilometers above Jupiter’s cloud tops, roughly equivalent to the distance between Earth and Moon. The Cassini spacecraft itself was about 10 million kilometers from Jupiter when recording the image data.
Erik Olson. Space.
Earth, 2011. Oil on canvas, 72 x 84 inches.
Moon, 2011. Oil on panel, 20 x 16 inches.
Venus, 2011. Oil on panel, 48 x 36 inches.
Love Space, 2011. Oil on panel, 48 x 36 inches.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos finds Apollo 11 engines at the bottom of the ocean
By Mark Brown
A team of undersea explorers, led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has found the F-1 rocket engines that sent the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
The engines, developed by Rocketdyne in the 1950s, provided the necessary lift-off thrust to push the Saturn V rocket into space. They ran at 32 million horsepower, and burned 2,700 kilograms of rocket grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second.
Five of those rocket engines burned for just a few minutes, before detaching, plummeting back to Earth and plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. That’s where they’ve slept for the last 43 years.
“A year or so ago, I started to wonder, with the right team of undersea pros, could we find and potentially recover the F-1 engines that started mankind’s mission to the moon,” Bezos says. So he put together that team, used some state-of-the-art deep sea sonar and found the engines lying on the sea bed, some 4.2 kilometres below the surface.
The plan is to raise one or more of the engines. “We don’t know yet what condition these engines might be in — they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years,” explains Bezos. “On the other hand, they’re made of tough stuff, so we’ll see.”
He’s well aware that the rockets are still property of Nasa, so “I imagine that Nasa would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian for all to see.” He’s in conversation with the space agency to provide an engine to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, if he can raise more than one.
“Millions of people were inspired by the Apollo Program. I was five years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration,” the Amazon president says.
Bezos is a known space enthusiast, and even founded his own spaceflight start-up firm, Blue Origin, in 2000. In 2011 the notoriously tight-lipped private firm revealed that an unmanned spaceship lost control during a test flight and the experimental rocket had to be destroyed.
A solar eruption on 9 February and the ensuing cloud of particles that blasted into space over the next 10 hours. The sun itself was imaged in extreme ultraviolet during a coronal mass ejection. This orange image has been superimposed on a coronagraph (green) from the Stereo COR1 instrument.