On Tuesday, June 5, Venus passed in front of the Sun – an event that was visible on seven continents for those that were fortunate enough to have clear weather. These “transits” of Venus are very rare, coming in pairs separated by more than a hundred years. This June’s transit, the second of a 2004-2012 pair, won’t be repeated until the year 2117.
Credit: NASA/SDO, AIA
Credit: JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin
The first image is a composite of images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory that shows the path that Venus took across the disk of the Sun. The second is a close-up image taken by Hinode – a joint JAXA/NASA mission to study the connections of the sun’s surface magnetism, primarily in and around sunspots. Read more »
The Goddard Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory released some exciting news about the age-old question of origin of the chemical components necessary for life. According to Dr. Michael Callahan of Goddard, “People have been discovering components of DNA in meteorites since the 1960′s, but researchers were unsure whether they were really created in space or if instead they came from contamination by terrestrial life. For the first time, we have three lines of evidence that together give us confidence these DNA building blocks actually were created in space.” The findings imply that some asteroids and comets may have the chemistry necessary to make the building blocks of essential biological molecules.
Happy 21st anniversary, Hubble! To celebrate this milestone, the telescope was pointed at a lovely pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The shape (which reminds some of a rose) is due to the gravitational tidal pull between the pair, which is distorting the disk of the larger galaxy. It’s exactly the sort of gorgeous imagery we’ve come to expect from the telescope. The still image follows. Read more »
This stunning new image was taken of the first six James Webb Space Telescope flight mirrors were being prepped for cryo testing at Marshall Space Flight Center. You can read more about this mirror milestone in the NASA.com feature.
Sorry we were slow with posts last week – we were swamped with preparations for the government shut-down that (thankfully) never happened. We’ve got a bunch of things in the works, but we’ll start with a link round-up.
Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs) are huge explosions in space, and scientists think they happen either when a very massive star explodes or when two very dense neutron stars collide. Either way, it’s thought that a GRB signals the birth of a black hole. Very short duration GRBs are less common than another kind of burst that lasts longer, more than two seconds. Also, their shorter duration makes them harder to study. This new supercomputer simulation of short GRBs has shown that merging neutron stars could indeed power short GRBs. You can read all the details in this web feature.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program, employees down at Kennedy Space Center came together for this impressive themed aerial portrait. I’m not sure what image we would pick at Goddard, since the research here is so diverse! Any ideas? Post them in the comments!
There’s a lot more awesomeness below… last week was a busy one for space stuff! Read more »
Meet “Harry,” a bald eagle recently spotted here at NASA Goddard! Geeked on Goddard has a few more photos, as well as some information about bald eagles in Maryland. While we’re usually talking about the space exploration and research going on here, it’s also worth mentioning that Goddard covers over a thousand acres of land, much of it in a natural state. We’ve got lots of wooded areas and a lake, plenty of space for all of the geese and deer (and, apparently, bald eagles!) that live here. Though we’re just a handful of miles from Washington, DC, it can be pretty peaceful to walk through the woods at Goddard.
Due to the one-two punch of a federal holiday and a bit of wintry weather that caused NASA Goddard to open a few hours late today, here’s a belated awesomeness round-up!
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Hrybyk
One year ago, I had just returned to Goddard from an epic adventure – over a week in Florida for back-to-back launches, stranded for a little while because the DC area was being hammered with a record-breaking snowstorm during my trip. Whee! But in honor of the 1-year anniversary of the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, I wanted to post this amazing video of SDO’s Atlas V blowing away a gorgeous sundog. This was definitely the highlight of the launch!
I know that I kicked off last week’s round-up with a snow picture, but look! We got another six inches! Here’s the real NASA connection, though… imagery of the storm from the MODIS instrument, aboard the Terra satellite.