Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for NASA

Welcome to Day 14 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge!

Each day in April (except Sundays) I will be posting here, and the posts will be in alphabetical order! And because I have a wide variety of interests, this blog will live up to it's name. Totally random and mostly unrelated topics. And lots of pics!

For some shameless self-promotion, I have 2 other blogs in the challenge, too. 
 Check them out!
Maple Grove Cemetery - Halloween related, but don't worry - no gore.
The Life of Lisa - weight loss / health related. 


National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA

This topic could go so many different directions - who they are, what they do, what it's about. But I'm going to concentrate on some really cool images.

This computer generated image depicts a view of Earth as seen from the surface of the asteroid Toutatis on Nov. 29, 1996. Toutatis currently approaches Earth once every four years, and on Nov. 29th, 1996 was 5.2 million kilometers (3.3 million miles) away. 

This time exposure of the Southern Lights was photographed with a 35mm camera from 115 nautical miles above Earth by the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour during the Space Radar Laboratory 2 mission (STS-68) in 1994. Due to the long exposure time, stars in the background appear elongated. 

As United States has undergone a steady process of urbanization, scientists are becoming more concerned about the long-term effects. Unlike rural communities, urban sprawl completely transforms the landscape and the soil and alters the surrounding ecosystem and the climate. Marc Imhoff, a biologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and a team of researchers have been looking for ways to measure the effects of urbanization on the biological productivity in the United States and other countries around the world. The researchers created a method of mapping urbanization on a countrywide scale by using satellite images of the light cities generate at night. With the resulting city lights maps, they are now zeroing in on the impacts urban sprawl has on the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the ecosystem within which we live. 

This replica of the 17th century ship Godspeed was under full sail when it cruised past the Statute of Liberty in New York harbor. A team from NASA traveled with the Godspeed to six East Coast ports during the summer with an interactive exhibit highlighting the connections between the adventurous men and women who settled in Virginia almost 400 years ago and NASA's plans to explore space and establish a presence on other worlds. 

NASA's exhibit gave an estimated 190,000 visitors the chance to make a personalized "space postcard," take photographs as an astronaut or settler and win prizes in a NASA trivia game. 

The Godspeed -- an 88-foot replica of the ship that brought the first English colonists to America -- acted as a floating museum, educating more than 456,000 visitors in six cities about exploration of the past. 

Saturn's fascinating meteorology manifests itself as a "string of pearls" formation, spanning more than 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles). 

Seen in new images acquired by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer and lit from below by Saturn's internal thermal glow, the bright "pearls" are actually clearings in Saturn's deep cloud system. More than two dozen occur at 40 degrees north latitude. Each clearing follows another at a regular spacing of some 3.5 degrees in longitude. 

This is the first time such a regular and extensive train of cloud-clearings has been observed. The regularity indicates that they may be a manifestation of a large planetary wave. Scientists plan to take more observations of this phenomenon over the next few years to try to understand Saturn's deep circulation systems and meteorology. This image was taken on April 27, 2006. 

This artist's concept of a gas giant planet orbiting a red dwarf K star shows a planet has not been directly imaged, but its presence was detected in 2003 microlensing observations of a field star in our galaxy. Gravitational microlensing happens when a foreground star amplifies the light of a background star that momentarily aligns with it. Follow-up observations by Hubble Space Telescope in 2005 separated the light of the slightly offset foreground star from the background star. This allowed the host star to be identified as a red dwarf star located 19,000 light-years away. The Hubble observations allow for the planet's mass to be estimated at 2.6 Jupiter masses. The characteristics of the lensing event show that the planet is in a Jupiter-sized orbit around its parent red star. The rings and moon around the gas giant are hypothetical, but plausible, given the nature of the family of gas giant planets in our solar system. 

Astronaut Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, STS-115 mission specialist, took this self-portrait . The mission specialist had just unstowed the forward Solar Array Blanket Box (SABB) when this portrait, taken on a Sept. 12 space walk that marked the resumption of construction on the International Space Station. She shared the day's work with astronaut Joseph R. Tanner, who appears just below the glare in her helmet visor. The two participated in the first of three scheduled STS-115 extravehicular activity (EVA) sessions as the Atlantis astronauts and the Expedition 13 crew members join efforts this week to resume construction of the International Space Station. 

This 1992 image is one in a series of remarkable photos documenting the daily lives of two of Kennedy Space Center's most famous residents: The southern bald eagles that inhabit an enormous nest on the Kennedy Parkway North. 

Each fall, the eagles take up winter residence in the nest to breed and raise a new generation. Thanks to a remote-controlled Nikon camera installed yearly in the same pine tree as the nest, the activities of these magnificent birds are recorded on film.

In 1992, a rare and unique event was captured by the camera when a second clutch of eggs was laid, even though a healthy eaglet was born a month earlier. Although it is impossible to determine if it is the same eagles returning each year, the continued tolerance shown by this pair to the human presence seems to indicate that they are the same couple. 

According to wildlife experts at the time the photo was taken, eight or nine pairs of bald eagles inhabit nests at the space center. The nest is particularly well-known because of its huge size and close proximity to a busy road.


  1. Amazing pictures!!


    1. I nevre want to actually visit space personally, but I love to see pictures of it!

  2. NASA such an important agency but way over my head (no pun intended). The photos are cool.
    And, I can only imagine what all our Urbanization is doing to our world. Lucy from Lucy's Reality

    1. It's way over my head, too. Very awesome, though!

  3. NASA has been amazing at increasing our awareness of the galaxy. It's astounding how much we've learned and how much we still don't know.

    1. There's just so much out there and so far away, they've probably only scratched the surface!


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