NASA Unveils Website with Spectacular Solar System Images

NASA has made available for the public a new online collection of images of our solar system and locations on Earth where astrobiology researchers travel to conduct field research. Called "From Earth to the Solar System," or FETTSS, the images showcase the excitement of planetary exploration and the journey to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system, and the search for life elsewhere. Images may be downloaded and displayed with the proper photo credit.

The site is a collaboration between NASA Ames Research Center's Astrobiology Institute in Moffett Field, Calif., and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass. The collection is being released to celebrate NASA's Year of the Solar System -- a time of unprecedented planetary science mission activity. The celebration runs from October 2010 through August 2012.

The online collection will allow interested individuals, groups and organizations to plan their own solar system exhibits. A NASA-sponsored traveling version of the collection is planned for display at several U.S. locations. This summer, the exhibit will be featured at various locations around the world. These exhibitions are made possible through a partnership with the National Center for Earth and Space Science's "Voyage National Program," Capitol Heights, Md.

Image: For about 85% of the history of life on Earth, only microbes existed. The only large-scale evidence of their activities is preserved by stromatolites, ancient structural records of life on Earth which hold evidence both of the biology of the microbial mat communities that created them, and the nature of the environments in which they grew. They are rocky, dome-shaped structures formed in shallow water through the trapping of sedimentary grains by communities of microorganisms. When too much material becomes trapped in the mats and limits the amount of sunlight that can filter through, the organisms migrate up and form a new community on top of the old. Stromatolites are mostly found in lakes and marine lagoons where extreme conditions such as high saline levels prevent animals from grazing. One such location is the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve in Shark Bay, Western Australia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where living specimens are preserved today. Image Credit: Mark Boyle

More information and to become involved with the new site: http://fettss.arc.nasa.gov

More information on NASA's Year of the Solar System: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/yss

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