Posts tagged “nasa”

Venus, Mars, the Earth and Moon from Saturn

NASA and JPL continue to release some incredible images. Click the image to see a large version in a new window; click here to see huge ones over at NASA.

Humbling and magical.

On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.

With the sun’s powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini’s onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.

With both Cassini’s wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras aimed at Saturn, Cassini was able to capture 323 images in just over four hours. This final mosaic uses 141 of those wide-angle images. Images taken using the red, green and blue spectral filters of the wide-angle camera were combined and mosaicked together to create this natural-color view. A brightened version with contrast and color enhanced (Figure 1), a version with just the planets annotated (Figure 2), and an annotated version (Figure 3) are shown above.

This image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across.

space shuttles, magic, wonder

Today, for all its myriad frustrations, saw a lifelong dream fulfilled.

I saw a real space shuttle, in flight, albeit atop an enormous, gargantuan flying machine.

We had a research group meeting in the morning. All of us who work with Dr. Smith gathered, discussed our progress and plans, and caught up with him on happenings from around the world (enlightening and humbling).

At the beginning, perhaps ten minutes in, Amanda noticed - through a window near the top of our building - that dozens of folks were standing on the roof of an adjacent building, keenly and obviously looking at something. “It must be the shuttle,” she remarked.

The shuttle?

Then Amod saw it - he spotted it! - and the whole room, ages 22-65, ran to the windows, eyes wide open.

The jet escorting the shuttle looked like a sparrow next to an albatross. The huge, lumbering plane floated through the sky. Perched atop it was Endeavor, glistening during her final trip. At one point, the plane passed directly in front of sun, casting a massive shadow on the ground.

Silence, interspersed with the restrained oohs and aahs of wonder.

Wonder amongst a group of people trained to control their outbursts. Wonder amongst a bunch of scientists, realizing a shared dream.

The last flight of Endeavor, and we saw it.

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