Hubble: What It Took to Succeed

Hubble Space Telescope’s chief scientist on what it took to get the project off the ground C Robert O’Dell, Vanderbilt University Iconic images of astronomical pillars of gas and dust, views of galaxies soon after they were formed, an accelerating…

Boosters for Orion Spacecraft's First Flight Test Arrive at Port Canaveral, Florida

Boosters for Orion Spacecraft’s First Flight Test Arrive at Port Canaveral, Florida

A barge arrives at the U.S. Army Outpost wharf at Port Canaveral in Florida, carrying two of the three United Launch Alliance Delta IV heavy boosters for NASA’s upcoming Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) with the Orion spacecraft. The core booster and starboard booster will be offloaded and then transported to the Horizontal Integration Facility, or HIF, at Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The port booster and the upper stage are planned to be shipped to Cape Canaveral in April. At the HIF, all three boosters will be processed and checked out before being moved to the nearby launch pad and hoisted into position.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations in deep space, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. During the uncrewed EFT-1 flight, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into space — farther than a spacecraft built for humans has been in more than 40 years — and orbit the Earth twice. The capsule will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds approaching 20,000 mph, generating temperatures as high as 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The data gathered during the flight will influence design decisions, validate existing computer models and innovative new approaches to space systems development, as well as reduce overall mission risks and costs for later Orion flights.
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Image Credit: NASA

Unpacking Cargo from Expedition 38 Soyuz Landing

Unpacking Cargo from Expedition 38 Soyuz Landing

Engineers document cargo as it is unloaded from the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft after it landed with Expedition 38 Commander Oleg Kotov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, and Flight Engineers: Mike Hopkins of NASA, and, Sergey Ryazanskiy of R…

Rhea's Day in the Sun

Rhea’s Day in the Sun

A nearly full Rhea shines in the sunlight in this recent Cassini image. Rhea (949 miles, or 1,527 kilometers across) is Saturn’s second largest moon.
Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Rhea. North on Rhea is up and rotated 43 d…

False-Color Image of Earth Highlights Plant Growth

False-Color Image of Earth Highlights Plant Growth

On Aug. 3, 2004, NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft began a seven-year journey, spiraling through the inner solar system to Mercury. One year after launch, the spacecraft zipped around Earth, getting an orbit correction from Earth’s gravity and getting a chance to test its instruments by observing its home planet.
This image is a view of South America and portions of North America and Africa from the Mercury Dual Imaging System’s wide-angle camera aboard MESSENGER. The wide-angle camera records light at eleven different wavelengths, including visible and infrared light. Combining blue, red, and green light results in a true-color image from the observations. The image substitutes infrared light for blue light in the three-band combination. The resulting image is crisper than the natural color version because our atmosphere scatters blue light. Infrared light, however, passes through the atmosphere with relatively little scattering and allows a clearer view. That wavelength substitution makes plants appear red. Why? Plants reflect near-infrared light more strongly than either red or green, and in this band combination, near-infrared is assigned to look red.
Apart from getting a clearer image, the substitution reveals more information than natural color. Healthy plants reflect more near-infrared light than stressed plants, so bright red indicates dense, growing foliage. For this reason, biologists and ecologists occasionally use infrared cameras to photograph forests.
> Read more: Why is that Forest Red and that Cloud Blue? How to Interpret a False-Color Satellite Image
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Caption: Holli Riebeek