On this date in 1998, the Russians launched Zarya (“Sunrise”), the first module of the International Space Station, into orbit. This image of the ISS was taken on February 18, 2008 by the crew of the Atlantis, just after the space shuttle undocked for a return to Earth (image credit: NASA/STS-122 Shuttle Crew).
On July 19th of this year, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looked back from 746,000 miles behind the planet Saturn to capture this narrow-angle, high resolution image of our planet (on the left) and its moon (on the right), as seen from 898,414,400 miles away.
Every known life form in the universe exists within the bright blue dot on the left. The pale dot on the right represents the furthest our species has ever traveled (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI).
Did you smile for our family portrait this summer?
On July 19th of this year, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looked back from 746,000 miles behind the planet Saturn at the inner solar system, to capture the 141 wide-angle images needed to assemble a stunning, natural-color mosaic view.
The bright point of light in the center of this image cropped from that view is our planet and its moon, as seen from 898.414 million miles away (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI).
Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, imaged as it approached the Philippines by Japan Meteorological Agency satellites and EUMETSAT (image credit: EUMETSAT).
On this day in 1671, Giovanni Cassini discovered Iapetus, noting that the moon was far more visible when seen to the west of Saturn. The Italian/French astronomer deduced that Iapetus must be tidally locked with Saturn, and that the side facing away from the planet was much darker for some reason.
The mysterious dark face of Iapetus was named Cassini Regio in honor of the astronomer’s discovery, and the images in this mosaic were taken by NASA’s spacecraft Cassini on December 31, 2004 as it flew past the northern pole of the moon at a distance of 107,497 miles (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI/color composite Gordan Ugarkovic).
False-color mosaic of the northern lakes of Titan, as imaged by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its Sept. 12, 2013 flyby of Saturn’s largest moon. Cassini’s spectrometer peered through the thick, hazy atmosphere of Titan in infrared wavelengths to reveal a previously unseen type of terrain (assigned a bright orange color in this image), thought to be evaporated material deposited around the shores of Titan’s retreating hydrocarbon lakes, a type of terrain similar to the salt flats of Earth (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI).
NASA’s Cassini probe flew 934,891 miles above Saturn one week ago to provide the raw images for this amazing mosaic assembled by Gordan Ugarkovic (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI/Gordan Ugarkovic).
This graphic charts the 1,400 known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) orbiting the sun within 4.7 million miles of the Earth’s orbital path. These particular near-Earth objects are classified as potentially hazardous because they are each fairly large (at least 460 feet across). Though none are considered an impact threat over the next hundred years, observations over time help refine these orbital calculations to predict future potential close approaches and impact threats (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).
Approximate-color mosaic view of Triton, taken during a flyby of the Neptunian system in 1989 by Voyager 2. Neptune’s largest satellite was discovered on this day in 1846, by English brewer and astronomer William Lassell.
Triton’s strange terrain surprised Earthbound scientists when Voyager 2 returned these images of its surface. The huge moon has a tenuous atmosphere dominated by nitrogen that condenses on its surface as frost. Pinkish deposits seen at its southern pole are thought to be methane ice, while the dark plumes are believed to be evidence of active cryovolcanism churning up carbonaceous dust from under Triton’s interior. The origin of its greenish “cantaloupe terrain” is a mystery.
The unique retrograde orbit of Triton is thought to be evidence of its origin as a former Kuiper Belt object, that was captured by the ice giant, possibly after a collision with a smaller companion. It is thought that tidal interactions with Neptune have doomed the moon to either a collision with Neptune or to break up into a debris ring, 3.6 billion years from now [image credit: NASA/JPL/USGS].
Do not miss Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity" on a BIG screen. 3D viewing highly recommended as well.
First-of-its-kind image of our planet and moon taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft 36 years ago today, at a distance of 7.25 million miles. The moon had to be brightened to show up in this image by a factor of three due to the relative overpowering brightness of the Earth. Last week, NASA announced that Voyager 1 was officially confirmed to have become the first manmade object in interstellar space, as of last year (image credit: NASA/JPL).
From 1,065,949 miles behind Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft looked back on August 11th at the ringed gas giant and its hazy moon Titan (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI/Gordan Ugarkovic).
Saturn’s battered, icy moon Tethys, as imaged on October 14, 2009 by the Cassini spacecraft. Tethys, named for the mythical Greek Titan, was discovered by the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1684. The 16th largest moon in our solar system, Tethys is composed almost entirely of water ice, with only a small amount of rock in its structure (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI/Jason Major).
Looking back while on approach to fly by the Saturnian moon Iapetus, the Cassini spacecraft captured this image of Saturn and six of its moons on September 10, 2007. From top to bottom in this view 2.1 million miles from the ringed planet are Dione, Enceladus, Mimas, Rhea, Tethys, and Titan (image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute).
On January 18th of this year, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looked back at the Saturn-facing face of the icy moon Enceladus from 483,000 miles away, and captured this image of its cryovolcanic plumes (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute).