Sprawling emission nebulae IC 1396 and Sh2-129 mix glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds in this 10 degree wide field of view toward the northern constellation Cepheus the King. Energized by its bluish central star IC 1396 (left) is hundreds of light-years across and some 3,000 light-years distant. The nebula's intriguing dark shapes include a winding dark cloud popularly known as the Elephant's Trunk below and right of center. Tens of light-years long, it holds the raw raw material for star formation and is known to hide protostars within. Located a similar distance from planet Earth, the bright knots and swept back ridges of emission of Sh2-129 on the right suggest its popular name, the Flying Bat Nebula. Within the Flying Bat, the most recently recognized addition to this royal cosmic zoo is the faint bluish emission from Ou4, the Giant Squid nebula.

Ingenuity helicopter on Mars

Ingenuity, the helicopter that arrived on the Red Planet on the Mars Perseverance rover, has made nine flights on Mars. Ingenuity's historic achievement is the first powered flight on a terrestrial body other than Earth.

According to Håvard F. Grip, Ingenuity Chief Pilot, and Ken Williford, Perseverance Deputy Project Scientist, Flight 9, which occurred in July 2021, was unlike the flights that came before it. It broke our records for flight duration and cruise speed, and it nearly quadrupled the distance flown between two airfields. But what really set the flight apart was the terrain that Ingenuity had to negotiate during its 2 minutes and 46 seconds in the air – an area called “Séítah” that would be difficult to traverse with a ground vehicle like the Perseverance rover. This flight was also explicitly designed to have science value by providing the first close view of major science targets that the rover will not reach for quite some time. 

But the Mars Perseverance team didn't do it alone. A team of helicopter experts from our Ames Research Center in California assisted the Ingenuity team in making sure the technology demonstrator had the best chance for success in flying in the super thin atmosphere of the Red Planet. Learn more.

This image was captured by Mars Perseverance rover using its Left Mastcam-Z Camera, composed of a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast, on Jun. 15, 2021 (Sol 114).

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Source: www.nasa.gov

Point your telescope toward the high flying constellation Pegasus and you can find this expanse of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies. NGC 7814 is centered in the pretty field of view that would almost be covered by a full moon. NGC 7814 is sometimes called the Little Sombrero for its resemblance to the brighter more famous M104, the Sombrero Galaxy. Both Sombrero and Little Sombrero are spiral galaxies seen edge-on, and both have extensive halos and central bulges cut by a thin disk with thinner dust lanes in silhouette. In fact, NGC 7814 is some 40 million light-years away and an estimated 60,000 light-years across. That actually makes the Little Sombrero about the same physical size as its better known namesake, appearing smaller and fainter only because it is farther away. In this telescopic view from July 17, NGC 7814 is hosting a newly discovered supernova, dominant immediately to the left of the galaxy's core. Cataloged as SN 2021rhu, the stellar explosion has been identified as a Type Ia supernova, useful toward calibrating the distance scale of the universe.

OFT-2 Rollout & Mate

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 17, 2021. On July 30, Starliner is slated to launch on an Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

Source: www.nasa.gov

What if you could see, separately, all the colors of the Ring? And of the surrounding stars? There's technology for that. The featured image shows the Ring Nebula (M57) and nearby stars through such technology: in this case, a prism-like diffraction grating. The Ring Nebula is seen only a few times because it emits light, primarily, in only a few colors. The two brightest emitted colors are hydrogen (red) and oxygen (blue), appearing as nearly overlapping images to the left of the image center. The image just to the right of center is the color-combined icon normally seen. Stars, on the other hand, emit most of their light in colors all across the visible spectrum. These colors, combined, make a nearly continuous streak -- which is why stars appear accompanied by multicolored bars. Breaking object light up into colors is scientifically useful because it can reveal the elements that compose that object, how fast that object is moving, and how distant that object is.

Thor not only has his own day (Thursday), but a helmet in the heavens.  Popularly called Thor's Helmet, NGC 2359 is a hat-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the cosmic head-covering is more like an interstellar bubble, blown with a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble's center. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. NGC 2359 is located about 15,000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Great Overdog. This remarkably sharp image is a mixed cocktail of data from broadband and narrowband filters, capturing not only natural looking stars but details of the nebula's filamentary structures. The star in the center of Thor's Helmet is expected to explode in a spectacular supernova sometime within the next few thousand years.

Almost Hyperspace: Random APOD Generator

Orion Nebula

This dramatic image from January 2006 offers a peek inside a cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, represents the sharpest view ever taken of this region until this time, called the Orion Nebula. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them have never been seen in visible light. These stars reside in a dramatic dust-and-gas landscape of plateaus, mountains, and valleys that are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

The Orion Nebula is a picture book of star formation, from the massive, young stars that are shaping the nebula to the pillars of dense gas that may be the homes of budding stars. The bright central region is the home of the four heftiest stars in the nebula. The stars are called the Trapezium because they are arranged in a trapezoid pattern. Ultraviolet light unleashed by these stars is carving a cavity in the nebula and disrupting the growth of hundreds of smaller stars. Located near the Trapezium stars are stars still young enough to have disks of material encircling them. These disks are called protoplanetary disks or "proplyds" and are too small to see clearly in this image. The disks are the building blocks of solar systems.

The bright glow at upper left is from M43, a small region being shaped by a massive, young star's ultraviolet light. Astronomers call the region a miniature Orion Nebula because only one star is sculpting the landscape. The Orion Nebula has four such stars. Next to M43 are dense, dark pillars of dust and gas that point toward the Trapezium. These pillars are resisting erosion from the Trapezium's intense ultraviolet light. The glowing region on the right reveals arcs and bubbles formed when stellar winds - streams of charged particles ejected from the Trapezium stars - collide with material.

The faint red stars near the bottom are the myriad brown dwarfs that Hubble spied for the first time in the nebula in visible light. Sometimes called "failed stars," brown dwarfs are cool objects that are too small to be ordinary stars because they cannot sustain nuclear fusion in their cores the way our Sun does. The dark red column, below, left, shows an illuminated edge of the cavity wall.

The Orion Nebula is 1,500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colors, to make this picture. They also added ground-based photos to fill out the nebula. The ACS mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full Moon.

The Orion observations were taken between 2004 and 2005.

Image Credit: NASA,ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

Source: www.nasa.gov

The photographer had this shot in mind for some time. He knew that objects overhead are the brightest -- since their light is scattered the least by atmospheric air. He also that knew the core of our Milky Way Galaxy was just about straight up near midnight around this time of year in South Australia. Chasing his mental picture, he ventured deep inside the Kuipto Forest where tall radiata pines blocked out much of the sky -- but not in this clearing. There, through a window framed by trees, he captured his envisioned combination of local and distant nature. Sixteen exposures of both trees and the Milky Way Galaxy were recorded. Antares is the bright orange star to left of our Galaxy's central plane, while Alpha Centauri is the bright star just to the right of the image center. The direction toward our Galaxy's center is below Antares. Although in a few hours the Earth's rotation moved the Galactic plane up and to the left -- soon invisible behind the timber, his mental image was secured forever -- and is featured here.

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What does the Andromeda galaxy look like in ultraviolet light? Young blue stars circling the galactic center dominate. A mere 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. Spanning about 230,000 light-years, it took 11 different image fields from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite telescope to produce this gorgeous portrait of the spiral galaxy in ultraviolet light in 2003. While its spiral arms stand out in visible light images, Andromeda's arms look more like rings in ultraviolet. The rings are sites of intense star formation and have been interpreted as evidence that Andromeda collided with its smaller neighboring elliptical galaxy M32 more than 200 million years ago. The Andromeda galaxy and our own comparable Milky Way galaxy are the most massive members of the Local Group of galaxies and are projected to collide in several billion years -- perhaps around the time that our Sun's atmosphere will expand to engulf the Earth.

Point your telescope at tonight's first quarter Moon. Along the terminator, the shadow line between night and day, you might find these two large craters staring back at you with an owlish gaze. Alphonsus (left) and Arzachel are ancient impact craters on the north eastern shores of Mare Nubium, the lunar Sea of Clouds. The larger Alphonsus is over 100 kilometers in diameter. A low sun angle highlights the crater's sharp 1.5 kilometer high central peak in bright sunlight and dark shadow. Scouting for potential Apollo moon landing sites, the Ranger 9 spacecraft returned closeup photographs of Alphonsus before it crashed in the crater just northeast (left) of its central mountain in 1965. Alpetragius, between Alphonsus and Arzachel, is the small crater with the deeply shadowed floor and overly large central peak.

Venus, named for the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the war god's namesake, come together by moonlight in this serene skyview, recorded on July 11 from Lualaba province, Democratic Republic of Congo, planet Earth. Taken in the western twilight sky shortly after sunset the exposure also records earthshine illuminating the otherwise dark surface of the young crescent Moon. Of course the Moon has moved on. Venus still shines in the west though as the evening star, third brightest object in Earth's sky, after the Sun and the Moon itself. Seen here above a brilliant Venus, Mars moved even closer to the brighter planet and by July 13 could be seen only about a Moon's width away. Mars has since slowly wandered away from much brighter Venus in the twilight, but both are sliding toward bright star Regulus. Alpha star of the constellation Leo, Regulus lies off the top of this frame and anticipates a visit from Venus and then Mars in twilight skies of the coming days.

This illustration shows NASA's Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn.

This artist's illustration shows the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn. Cassini made 22 orbits that swooped between the rings and the planet before ending its 13-year tour of the ringed planet on Sept. 15, 2017, with a final plunge into Saturn. 

Cassini spacecraft shared the wonders of Saturn and its family of icy moons—taking us to astounding worlds where methane rivers run to a methane sea and where jets of ice and gas are blasting material into space from a liquid water ocean that might harbor the ingredients for life.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Source: www.nasa.gov

In silhouette against a crowded star field along the tail of the arachnalogical constellation Scorpius, this dusty cosmic cloud evokes for some the image of an ominous dark tower. In fact, clumps of dust and molecular gas collapsing to form stars may well lurk within the dark nebula, a structure that spans almost 40 light-years across this gorgeous telescopic portrait. Known as a cometary globule, the swept-back cloud, is shaped by intense ultraviolet radiation from the OB association of very hot stars in NGC 6231, off the upper edge of the scene. That energetic ultraviolet light also powers the globule's bordering reddish glow of hydrogen gas. Hot stars embedded in the dust can be seen as bluish reflection nebulae. This dark tower, NGC 6231, and associated nebulae are about 5,000 light-years away.

Celebrating 5 years at Jupiter

On July 4, 2016, our Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on a mission to peer through the gas giant planet’s dense clouds and answer questions about the origins of our solar system. Since its arrival, Juno has provided scientists with a treasure trove of data about the planet’s origins, interior structures, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno is the first mission to observe Jupiter’s deep atmosphere and interior, and will continue to delight with dazzling views of the planet’s colorful clouds and Galilean moons. As it circles Jupiter, Juno provides critical knowledge for understanding the formation of our own solar system, the Jovian system and the role giant planets play in putting together planetary systems elsewhere.

Learn more about the mission and download other groovy images.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Source: www.nasa.gov
Travis Thompson's uniform

This uniform in the center of this image belonged to one of the unsung heroes of the Space Shuttle Program – Travis Thompson, former Closeout Crew Lead. 

The closeout crew was responsible for assisting the astronauts to strap into the shuttle's crew module and take care of any other last-minute needs that arose. Ultimately, they close and seal the crew access hatch and leave the astronauts behind before they launch into space.

On July 9, 2021, Thompson, who served for nearly 100 missions, and Deputy Administrator and former shuttle commander Pamela Melroy met to view his uniform at its exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. Melroy presented him with a plaque for the occasion and surprised him by showing him she had kept the gift he gave to her many years ago. It was an emotional moment that celebrated not just the heroes who venture out into space but also the heroes who make sure they get their safely and come back home to us.

Learn more about the closeout crew.

Image Credit: NASA/Taylor Mickal

Source: www.nasa.gov

Where's the Moon? Somewhere in this image, the Earth's Moon is hiding. The entire Moon is visible, in its completely full phase, in plain sight. Even the photographer's keen eye couldn't find it even though he knew exactly where to look -- only the long exposure of his camera picked it up -- barely. Although by now you might be congratulating yourself on finding it, why was it so difficult to see? For one reason, this photograph was taken during a total lunar eclipse, when the Earth's shadow made the Moon much dimmer than a normal full Moon. For another, the image, taken in Colorado, USA, was captured just before sunrise. With the Moon on the exact opposite side of the sky from the Sun, this meant that the Sun was just below the horizon, but still slightly illuminating the sky. Last, as the Moon was only about two degrees above the horizon, the large volume of air between the camera and the horizon scattered a lot of light away from the background Moon. Twelve minutes after this image was acquired in 2012, the Sun peeked over the horizon and the Moon set.

On July 8th early morning risers saw Mercury near an old Moon low on the eastern horizon. On that date bright planet, faint glow of lunar night side, and sunlit crescent were captured in this predawn skyscape from Tenerife's Teide National Park in the Canary Islands. Never far from the Sun in planet Earth's sky, the fleeting inner planet shines near its brightest in the morning twilight scene. Mercury lies just below the zeta star of the constellation Taurus, Zeta Tauri, near the tip of the celestial bull's horn. Of course the Moon's ashen glow is earthshine, earthlight reflected from the Moon's night side. A description of earthshine, in terms of sunlight reflected by Earth's oceans illuminating the Moon's dark surface, was written over 500 years ago by Leonardo da Vinci. Waiting for the coming dawn in the foreground are the Teide Observatory's sentinels of the Sun, also known as (large domes left to right) the THEMIS, VTT, and GREGOR solar telescopes.

Two enormous galaxies capture your attention in this spectacular image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

Two enormous galaxies capture your attention in this spectacular image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). The galaxy on the left is a lenticular galaxy, named 2MASX J03193743+4137580. The side-on spiral galaxy on the right is more simply named UGC 2665. Both galaxies lie approximately 350 million light-years from Earth, and they both form part of the huge Perseus galaxy cluster. 

Perseus is an important figure in Greek mythology, renowned for slaying Medusa the Gorgon – who is herself famous for the unhappy reason that she was cursed to have living snakes for hair. Given Perseus’s impressive credentials, it seems appropriate that the galaxy cluster is one of the biggest objects in the known universe, consisting of thousands of galaxies, only a few of which are visible in this image. The wonderful detail in the image is thanks to the WFC3’s powerful resolution and sensitivity to both visible and near-infrared light, the wavelengths captured in this image.

Text credit: European Space Agency
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, W. Harris; Acknowledgment: L. Shatz

Media Contacts:

Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Alise Fisher
NASA Headquarters

Source: www.nasa.gov

M82 is a starburst galaxy with a superwind. In fact, through ensuing supernova explosions and powerful winds from massive stars, the burst of star formation in M82 is driving a prodigious outflow. Evidence for the superwind from the galaxy's central regions is clear in sharp telescopic snapshot. The composite image highlights emission from long outflow filaments of atomic hydrogen gas in reddish hues. Some of the gas in the superwind, enriched in heavy elements forged in the massive stars, will eventually escape into intergalactic space. Triggered by a close encounter with nearby large galaxy M81, the furious burst of star formation in M82 should last about 100 million years or so. Also known as the Cigar Galaxy for its elongated visual appearance, M82 is about 30,000 light-years across. It lies 12 million light-years away near the northern boundary of Ursa Major.

Space shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-135, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station.

This week in 2011, space shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-135, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. STS-135 carried the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics, and spare parts to the orbiting lab. This was the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program. Today, the Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center serves as “science central” for the space station, working 24/7, 365 days a year in support of the orbiting laboratory’s science experiments. After 20 years of continuous human presence, the space station remains the sole space-based proving ground and stepping stone toward achieving the goals of the Artemis program. The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating, and preserving NASA’s remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological, and scientific aspects of NASA’s activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA’s history, visit the Marshall History Program’s webpage. (NASA)

Source: www.nasa.gov
4150 Starr

Our birthday wishes for Ringo Starr's 81st birthday are almost boundless, extending all the way beyond Mars to our solar system's asteroid belt, home to the asteroid that bears his name, 4150 Starr.

Learn more about the planetary body that bears his name.

Image Credit: NASA

Source: www.nasa.gov