Archives

December 2012



The Hubble Space Telescope captured a spectacular image of the bright star-forming ring that surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097. In this image, the larger-scale structure of the galaxy is barely visible: its comparatively dim spiral arms, which surround its heart in a loose embrace, reach out beyond the edges of this frame.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured a spectacular image of the bright star-forming ring that surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097. In this image, the larger-scale structure of the galaxy is barely visible: its comparatively dim spiral arms, which surround its heart in a loose embrace, reach out beyond the edges of this frame.

This image was taken on December 22, 2012 and received on Earth December 23, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Rhea at approximately 18,160 miles (29,226 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and IR1 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2013. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Full-Res: W00078554.jpg

In time for the 2012 winter solstice, a storm dropped snow over most of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. On December 20, the National Weather Service reported snow depths exceeding 100 centimeters (39 inches) in some places--the result of the recent snowfall plus accumulation from earlier storms.

This image of the United States of America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The image was made possible by the new satellite's "day-night band" of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight.

Omega Centauri (also known as NGC 5139) is the largest, brightest and most massive of our galaxy's retinue of 150 or so globular star clusters. Packing some 10 million stars into a region just 150 light-years across, Omega Centauri is easily visible to the unaided eye despite lying nearly 16,000 light-years away. Unlike other star clusters, whose members all have similar age and chemical makeup, Omega Centauri displays a wide range of age and chemistry, from the ancient (12 billion years) to the relatively recent. The presence of different stellar populations suggests that Omega Centauri is not, in fact, a globular cluster, but the remnant core of a dwarf galaxy torn to shreds by the Milky Way's gravity. The false-color ultraviolet composite from Swift UVOT's uvw1, uvm2 and uvw2 filters reveals a treasure trove of rare stars in various stages of demise. Credit: NASA/Swift/S. Holland (Goddard), M. Siegel and E. Fonseca (PSU)

"Due to an initially aggressive schedule that resulted from a delayed launch of the 2013 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage, or RASC-AL, Lunar Wheel Design Challenge, the new deadline to submit project plans has been extended to Sunday, Jan. 19, 2013, at midnight EST."

"Astronomers using Europe's Herschel Space Observatory are asking the public to help find holes in the dust clouds that are threaded through our galaxy. By looking at the images from Herschel, combined with those from NASA's Spitzer satellite, members of the public are invited to join the science effort by helping to distinguish between dense clumps of cold dust and holes in the dusty clouds that are threaded through our galaxy. Dust clouds don't come in simple shapes, and so the process of distinguishing between dark clouds and holes is incredibly difficult to do. Luckily, the ideal tool is at hand: the human eye. The problem proved more complex than the team had anticipated. "The problem is that clouds of interstellar dust don't come in handy easy-to-recognize shapes", Derek explained. "The images are too messy for computers to analyze, and there are too many for us to go through ourselves". This is where the Zooniverse comes in, with its community of citizen scientists poised ready to help out. The new images are part of the Milky Way Project, which launched 2 years ago and, through the efforts of over 40,000 volunteers, has already created astronomy's largest catalogue of star-forming bubbles, as well as a plethora of nearby star clusters, distant galaxies and more. The Milky Way Project volunteers are excellent at measuring and mapping our galaxy." More

The completed astronomical observatory at Ridge A. From left, the HEAT telescope, the yellow PLATO-R instrument module, with cameras and antennas on the rooftop, and solar panels to power the observatory in the summer. Not seen: The green PLATO-R engine module (above) provides power during winter. Photo Credit: Craig Kulesa

This image was taken on December 23, 2012 and received on Earth December 24, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Dione at approximately 153,903 miles (247,683 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the IR4 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2013. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Full-Res: N00199630.jpg

The Nile River Valley and Delta comprise less than 5 percent of Egypt's land area, but provide a home to roughly 97 percent of the country's population. Nothing makes the location of human population clearer than the lights illuminating the valley and delta at night.

"The FIRST Robotics Competition kickoff marks the beginning of the season for high school students from across the nation to design and build robots to compete in an annual tournament against a field of competitors. FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international, mentor-based student program that builds science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, skills for high school students by combining the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. Over 100 local students, teachers and volunteers are scheduled to attend Cleveland's kickoff at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Cuyahoga Community College Unified Technologies Center, located at 2415 Woodland Ave, in. Cleveland. NASA, the largest sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition, will broadcast the kickoff nationwide on NASA Television from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester." More

This image was taken on December 24, 2012 and received on Earth December 26, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Saturn at approximately 441,028 miles (709,766 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the CB2 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2013. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Full-Res: W00078573.jpg


On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity's mission on Mars (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2012), NASA's Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover.

On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity's mission on Mars (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2012), NASA's Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover.

The mosaic shows the rover at "Rocknest," the spot in Gale Crater where the mission's first scoop sampling took place. Four scoop scars can be seen in the regolith in front of the rover. A fifth scoop was collected later.

A nighttime view of the Dallas, Texas metropolitan area is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. Most metropolitan areas of the western United States are configured over large areas with a regular street grid pattern that is highly recognizable from space, particularly at night.


Aboard the orbiting International Space Station, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford, Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn and Canadian Space Agency Chris Hadfield celebrated Christmas on the orbital laboratory Dec. 25, 2012 through song and downlink messages of cheer for flight controllers on the ground.


Curiosity will spend the holidays at a location on Mars dubbed "Grandma's House."


NASA Television shares this inspiring production by Italian videomaker, Giacomo Sardelli, about the International Space Station, its inhabitants, and its role in space exploration. Sardelli writes of the video, "I'm not the first one to use NASA's pictures taken from the International Space Station to craft a Timelapse video. You can find many of them on the Internet, that's where my inspiration came from. What I wanted to do, though, was to look beyond the intrinsic beauty of those pictures, and use them to tell a story and share the messages sent by the astronauts who worked on the station in the last 11 years."


The Moon and Jupiter are converging for a heavenly sky show on Christmas 2012. Got a telescope? Something extra-special is happening on Jupiter that makes it an appealing target for backyard optics.

Shoulder Work At 'Copper Cliff' - sols 3159-3165, Dec. 12, 2012-Dec. 18, 2012: Opportunity is working at "Matijevic Hill" (named in honor of Jake Matijevic) at the inboard edge of "Cape York" on the rim of Endeavour Crater. There, the rover has been conducting in-situ (contact) science measurements at a location called "Copper Cliff."

A Digital Mapping System (DMS) mosaic of Arctic sea ice. The dark areas are leads, or open areas of water. Identifying leads is one of the necessary steps in preparing IceBridge's quick look sea ice thickness data product. Credit: NASA / DMS team

NASA scientists have announced that new observations of 2011 AG5 show that this asteroid, once thought to have a worrisome potential to threaten Earth, no longer poses a significant risk of impact.

"Science Bob and 30 other teachers launched 2,000 ping pong balls in zero gravity as part of Northrup Grumman Foundation's Weightless Flights of Discovery program. Also joining us was Kerry Sanders of the Today Show. Weightless flight is accomplished by flying in parabolas in reserved airspace aboard a modified 727 aircraft. Each weightless experience lasts about 30 seconds. Learn more about Science Bob at http://www.sciencebob.com"