Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi relaxes inside the cupola

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Expedition 64 astronaut Soichi Noguchi relaxes at the end of the work day inside the seven-windowed cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world." The orbiting lab was flying above the South Pacific at the time this photograph was taken on Nov. 27, 2020.

December will be a busy month as the Expedition 64 gears up for space freighter traffic. On Wednesday, Dec. 2, the entire crew trained for the unlikely event of an emergency on the station. They coordinated with mission controllers around the world practicing their communication, locating safety gear and maneuvering through escape routes. The crew also is preparing for the arrival of a new SpaceX Dragon cargo craft on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Image Credit: NASA


Source: www.nasa.gov
Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24

Lying inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way, this Herbig–Haro object is a turbulent birthing ground for new stars in a region known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away. 

Herbig–Haro (HH) objects are bright patches of nebulosity associated with newborn stars that form when narrow jets of partially ionized gas ejected by stars collide with nearby clouds of gas and dust. This image of Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24 was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2015.

When stars form within giant clouds of cool molecular hydrogen, some of the surrounding material collapses under gravity to form a rotating, flattened disk encircling the newborn star.

Although planets will later congeal in the disk, at this early stage the protostar is feeding on the disk with a voracious appetite. Gas from the disk rains down onto the protostar and engorges it. Superheated material spills away and is shot outward from the star in opposite directions along an uncluttered escape route – the star's rotation axis.

Shock fronts develop along the jets and heat the surrounding gas to thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. The jets collide with the surrounding gas and dust and clear vast spaces, like a stream of water plowing into a hill of sand.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)/Hubble-Europe (ESA) Collaboration, D. Padgett (GSFC), T. Megeath (University of Toledo), and B. Reipurth (University of Hawaii)


Source: www.nasa.gov
 Illustration shows Earth surrounded by theoretical filaments of dark matter

The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought.

This illustration shows Earth surrounded by theoretical filaments of dark matter called "hairs."

Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 percent of all matter and energy in the universe. The regular matter, which makes up everything we can see around us, is only 5 percent of the universe. The rest is dark energy, a strange phenomenon associated with the acceleration of our expanding universe.

The data on hairy dark matter is based on a study by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Gary Prézeau that appeared in a 2015 article in the Astrophysical Journal.

Learn more about hairy dark matter.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Source: www.nasa.gov
Carol Harrison

Carol "Bird Song" Harrison is a a quality assurance specialist (QAS) working in the Mission Assurance Branch at NASA's Langley Research Center. She has degrees in mechanical technology and mechanical engineering. After graduating from the NASA Apprentice Program in 1992, she worked as a wind tunnel technician for 29 years. She now is enjoying a career change as a QAS. She is a member of the Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe of Southampton, Virginia.

In this photo, she is standing next to the Coordinate Measurement Machine) she was using to measure “the  table for fixturing the backplate for the new Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit that is being designed and tested by NASA to support the 2024 mission to put the first woman and the next man on the surface of the moon.”

Learn more about Carol Harrison.

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Image Credit: Courtesy of Pete Veneris


Source: www.nasa.gov
An artist's concept of a tidal disruption event

What is a black hole? A black hole is an astronomical object with a gravitational pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it. A black hole’s “surface,” called its event horizon, defines the boundary where the velocity needed to escape exceeds the speed of light, which is the speed limit of the cosmos. Matter and radiation fall in, but they can’t get out.

Two main classes of black holes have been extensively observed. Stellar-mass black holes with three to dozens of times the Sun’s mass are spread throughout our Milky Way galaxy, while supermassive monsters weighing 100,000 to billions of solar masses are found in the centers of most big galaxies, ours included.

This image is an artist's concept of a tidal disruption event that happens when a star passes fatally close to a supermassive black hole, which reacts by launching a relativistic jet.

What is a black hole? Learn more.

Black Hole's Dust Ring May Be Casting Shadows From Heart of a Galaxy.

Image Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF


Source: www.nasa.gov
Kenneth Attocknie

Kenneth Attocknie grew up in rural southwest Oklahoma and is a member of the Caddo and Comanche Tribes of Oklahoma. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and worked at Johnson Space Center for over 21 years as a Flight Controller, Astronaut Crew Office Engineer, Astronaut Crew Instructor.

Learn more about Kenneth Attocknie.

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Image Credit: Courtesy of Kenneth Attocknie 


Source: www.nasa.gov
1st of 10 the twin SLS rocket boosters for Artemis I was placed on the mobile launcher

The first of 10 pieces of the twin Space Launch System (SLS) rocket boosters for NASA’s Artemis I mission was placed on the mobile launcher Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Engineers used one of five overhead cranes to lift the segment from the VAB’s High Bay 4 to the newly renovated High Bay 3. The component is the bottom section of the booster, known as the aft assembly, which house the system that controls 70% of the steering during the rocket’s initial ascent. Over several weeks, the other segments will be stacked one at a time and topped with the forward assembly.

Launching in 2021, Artemis I will be an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish sustainable lunar exploration by the end of the decade.

Image Credit: NASA/Cory Huston


Source: www.nasa.gov
Sentinel 6 launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Nov. 21, 2020, at 12:17 p.m. EST. The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission consists of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which will be followed by its twin, the Sentinel-6B satellite, in 2025. Continuing the legacy of the Jason series missions, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will extend the records of sea level into their fourth decade, collecting accurate measurements of sea surface height for more than 90 percent of the globals ocean, and providing crucial information for operational oceanography, marine meteorology, and climate studies. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center was responsible for launch management.

Image Credit: SpaceX


Source: www.nasa.gov
Sentinel 6 launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Nov. 21, 2020, at 12:17 p.m. EST. The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission consists of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which will be followed by its twin, the Sentinel-6B satellite, in 2025. Continuing the legacy of the Jason series missions, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will extend the records of sea level into their fourth decade, collecting accurate measurements of sea surface height for more than 90 percent of the world’s oceans, and providing crucial information for operational oceanography, marine meteorology, and climate studies. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center was responsible for launch management.

Image Credit: SpaceX


Source: www.nasa.gov
Near Lake Itasy, Madagascar, a girl gathers wild yellow cosmos flowers. Ninety percent of the island country's wildlife isn't found anywhere else on earth.

Why do colorful cloud bands encircle Jupiter? Jupiter's top atmospheric layer is divided into light zones and dark belts that go all the way around the giant planet. It is high horizontal winds -- in excess of 300 kilometers per hour -- that cause the zones to spread out planet-wide. What causes these strong winds remains a topic of research. Replenished by upwelling gas, zonal bands are thought to include relatively opaque clouds of ammonia and water that block light from lower and darker atmospheric levels. One light-colored zone is shown in great detail in the featured vista taken by the robotic Juno spacecraft in 2017. Jupiter's atmosphere is mostly clear and colorless hydrogen and helium, gases that are not thought to contribute to the gold and brown colors. What compounds create these colors is another active topic of research -- but is hypothesized to involve small amounts of sunlight-altered sulfur and carbon. Many discoveries have been made from Juno's data, including that water composes an unexpectedly high 0.25 percent of upper-level cloud molecules near Jupiter's equator, a finding important not only for understanding Jovian currents but for the history of water in the entire Solar System.


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Children learn in a bare-bones schoolhouse in the remote village of Jangbi, Bhutan. When Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy in 2008, the government called for 120 schools to be built throughout the country.

Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured here. That no stars are visible in the center indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form. In fact, Barnard 68 itself has been found likely to collapse and form a new star system. It is possible to look right through the cloud in infrared light.


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Image of Centaurus A in X-ray (blue), Submillimeter (orange), Optical (white, brown).


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View from the top of a glacier in Chugach State Park, Alaska, United States.


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Common crab spider (Xysticus cristatus), female with prey.


Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889.jpg

Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889 is a painting by the Belgian artist James Ensor in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Ensor died on November 19, 1949, and his works have entered the public domain in 2020.


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Stone split by frost weathering on the mountain path to the tongue of the Morteratsch glacier.



What's creating these long glowing streaks in the sky? No one is sure. Known as Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancements (STEVEs), these luminous light-purple sky ribbons may resemble regular auroras, but recent research reveals significant differences. A STEVE's great length and unusual colors, when measured precisely, indicate that it may be related to a subauroral ion drift (SAID), a supersonic river of hot atmospheric ions thought previously to be invisible. Some STEVEs are now also thought to be accompanied by green picket fence structures, a series of sky slats that can appear outside of the main auroral oval that does not involve much glowing nitrogen. The featured wide-angle composite image shows a STEVE in a dark sky above Childs Lake, Manitoba, Canada in 2017, crossing in front of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.


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A Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus rufulus in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India. Also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve, Kanha is the largest National Park in central India.