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Photography Science

78,846 Photos of the Sun Are Stitched Together into a Mesmerizing Timelapse of Its Movements

November 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

Using data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, filmmaker Seán Doran composed an entrancing timelpase of the sun’s glowing coronal loops during a month-long period. The video project compiles 78,846 ångström-171 photographs from August 2014 that show the bright, curved structures, which are made of hot plasma, as they burst upward. Colorized in gold in the timelapse, the arced loops often form a bridge between dark sunspots, or places where powerful magnetic fields breach the surface and flow into the massive star’s atmosphere.

For similarly stunning glimpses at astronomical happenings, head to Doran’s YouTube, which features footage of Earth’s orbit, Comet Neowise, and the rugged topography of the Red Planet. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



History Photography

Orbital Planes: A New Photography Book by Roland Miller Documents the Final Years of NASA's Shuttle Program

October 6, 2021

Christopher Jobson

Commander’s Console, Space Shuttle Endeavor, Orbiter Processing Facility 2, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Fine art photographer Roland Miller (previously) has been documenting America’s space program for more than 30 years, obtaining exclusive access to the interior spaces of orbiters and rockets, as well as manufacturing, testing, and launch facilities around the United States. The Utah-based photographer has captured a singular vision of the space program with a hybrid of abstract and documentary imagery, from macro details of fabricated elements to spectacular shuttle launches at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In his newest book Orbital Planes, Miller focuses entirely on the waning years of NASA’s shuttle program, a project he embarked on starting in 2008. More than just documentation of the machine’s construction or photographs of pivotal launches, though, his work is an artistic interpretation of the shuttle program in its entirety. Miller shares:

Along with the images in the book are my accounts of interactions with the Space Shuttle program and its personnel. I approached this subject in the a hybrid style of documentary and abstract imagery to tell a more complete story. […] Orbital Planes is the result of that photography work. My hope is that Orbital Planes will give the reader their own personal view of the Space Shuttle and the technology and facilities that helped it fly.

Orbital Planes will be published in 2022, and Miller is supporting the project with a Kickstarter that includes a variety of signed prints found in the book. You can follow more of his work on Instagram.

 

ISS Airlock and Hatch, Space Shuttle Discovery, Orbiter Processing Facility 1, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Discovery Label, Space Shuttle Discovery, Vehicle Assembly Building, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Fuselage Flag and Wing, Space Shuttle Discovery, Vehicle Assembly Building ,NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

External Tank and SRB Frustum, Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-125, Launch Pad 39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Launch Belly View, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133, Launch Pad 39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

RSS Rolled Back, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133, Launch Pad 39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

STATES, Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-135, Final Rollover, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

 

 



Design Science

A Gleaming Series of USPS Stamps Features a Decade of the Sun's Phenomena

June 25, 2021

Grace Ebert

NASA and the USPS have teamed up to release a glimmering series of stamps that celebrates some of the sun’s most alluring phenomena. Printed with a foil treatment, the ten designs are derived from a decade’s worth of images captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which launched in February of 2010 as a way to monitor the star’s activity in a geosynchronous orbit above Earth. NASA colorized the phenomena, which are otherwise imperceptible to the human eye, for the collection to create saturated, colorful renditions that accentuate the unique qualities of coronal holes, solar flares, and plasma blasts.

Watch the video below to dive into the colorizing process and read more about the science behind each stamp on NASA’s site. Sheets of 20 are available from USPS.

 

 

 



Science

Blue Dunes Ripple Across Mars' Surface in a New Infrared Composite from NASA

April 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

A striking new image captured by Mars Odyssey is a stark contrast to the rust-colored, rugged landscape that’s synonymous with the Red Planet. Released last week by NASA, the false-color composite—it’s a patchwork captured between December 2002 and November 2004—reveals long dunes surrounding the northern polar cap of the relatively small planet. Warmer areas touched by the sun emit a golden glow, while the chillier parts are tinted blue. The image frames just the dunes carved into a 19-mile swath of land, although the billowing pattern covers an area the size of Texas.

NASA released the infrared image as part of a collection that celebrates the 20th year in service for the orbiter, which currently holds the record as the longest-running spacecraft in history since its launch on April 7, 2001, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It was taken by the Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System, a tool that’s instrumental in determining the mineral composition of the planet’s surface by documenting temperature changes throughout the day. Since it began exploring two decades ago, the system has transmitted more than one million images of the Martian landscape back to Earth.

 

 



Photography Science

An Astronaut and Photographer Collaboratively Document the Vast International Space Station in a New Book

August 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

Cupola with Clouds and Ocean, International Space Station – ISS, Low Earth Orbit, Space. By Roland Miller and Paolo Nespoli. All images © Roland Miller and Paolo Nespoli, ISS interior images courtesy of NASA and ASI, shared with permission

In what is believed to be the first collaboration between an Earth-bound artist and an astronaut in space, photographer Roland Miller and engineer Paolo Nespoli have recorded the momentous journey of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS). The two have been working together during the last few years to document the current technologies and sights of modern space travel. They’ve shot extraordinary photographs of an ocean blanketed with clouds, the wire labyrinths lining the vehicle, and astronaut’s bulging suits and helmets.  “If you were to stand there and look at (the spacecraft), I’m hoping that this is how you would see it,” Miller shares with Colossal.

The project began after the photographer spoke with astronaut and chemist Cady Coleman, who encouraged him to share his vision and approach to the medium with those on the space station. While researching the possibilities for such an endeavor, he discovered that Coleman is an avid flutist and would carry several of the instruments with her during missions. She even performed a duet with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, while he was in Russia and she far above the earth, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first human launch. “And I thought, what if I did something like that? Maybe I could somehow work with an astronaut directly,” Miller says.

 

Longitudinal View, from ISS Forward to ISS Aft, US Laboratory – Destiny, International Space Station – ISS, Low Earth Orbit, Space. By Roland Miller and Paolo Nespoli

While a similar process executed simultaneously proved too complicated, the photographer decided on a unique collaboration utilizing Google Street View, which shows both the views inside and outside the ISS. “Not only could I use it to see what the station really looked like, but I could do screenshots of parts of it,” he says, a process that he ultimately used. Miller would capture different portions within the station or views out its windows and share them with Nespoli, who would then recreate the image during a mission.

Because the ISS was in a weightless environment with fluctuating light, many of the images astronauts typically capture utilize a flash, which Miller, who generally photographs using a very low shutter speed, wanted to avoid. “The first problem you run into is you can’t use a tripod in space because it just floats away, and the station itself is going 17,500 miles an hour. Just because of the size and the speed, there’s a harmonic vibration to it,” he notes. To combat the constant quivering, Nespoli constructed a stabilizing bipod and shot about 135 images with a high shutter speed, before sending the shots to Miller for aesthetic editing.

Now, the photographs have culminated in a 200-page, full-color book titled Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station, which already has passed its fundraising goal on Kickstarter and still has 17 days to go. Included in the forthcoming tome are essays by four experts, the celestial photographs, and some Earth-based shots, which Miller took separately at the Kennedy and Johnson space centers. These images range from scaffolding obscuring a Pressurized Mating Adapter to up-close frames of a potable water cooler that position the dials and buttons side-by-side with stickers chronicling previous missions. With a publish date of November 2, 2020, Interior Space will launch the 20-year anniversary of uninterrupted human habitation on the ISS.

 

Potable Water Dispenser, Galley, Node 1 – Unity Mockup, Space Vehicle Mockup Facility – SVMF, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas. By Roland Miller

Preferring an abstract, documentarian approach, Miller strives to tell a broader story that integrates design, art, and science. “It makes it more visually interesting than just topographic recording of things,” he says, noting that he always layers his photographs with distinct elements. Miller explains his particular fascination with space artifacts and the ISS:

This is a very good subject for that because they’re really amazing, beautiful things and are very complex modules… If you look at Star Trek and people walk down these spacious, pristine, white-walled hallways with carpeting and nice lights, and then you look at what a real spacecraft is, and you look at that hallway with wires and cables and computers hanging out, and it’s just crazy, chaotic, a mess of stuff. I think it’s really good to show this is what it really looks like… This is the reality of space travel right now.

An ardent photographer for more than 30 years, Miller’s foray into the field began with a visit to an old launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He previously shot the NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities across the United States for his 2016 book, Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History. The collection contains a glimpse into the stations, launchpads, and other vehicles that have been deactivated, repurposed, and even demolished in recent years.

Until Interior Spaces is released, you can pick up a copy of Abandoned in Place from Bookshop and follow Miller’s work on Instagram.

 

Starboard View through Port Hatch of Equipment Lock and Crew Lock with Extravehicular Activity Hardware
Quest Joint Airlock, International Space Station – ISS, Low Earth Orbit, Space. By Roland Miller and Paolo Nespoli

Scaffolding and Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 – PMA 3, High Bay, Space Station Processing Facility – SSPF, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida. By Roland Miller

Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill – C.O.L.B.E.R.T., Node 3 – Tranquility
International Space Station – ISS, Low Earth Orbit, Space. By Roland Miller and Paolo Nespoli

View Port-Aft, with Pressurized Mating Adapter 1 (on left) and Node 3 (on right), Node 1 – Unity, International Space Station – ISS, Low Earth Orbit, Space. By Roland Miller and Paolo Nespoli

Node 1 Equipped with Mating Systems (left) and Pressurized Mating Adapter (right) Ground Fit-Check Test, High Bay
Space Station Processing Facility – SSPF, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida. By Roland Miller

 

 



Science

A Decade of Sun: A New Timelapse Chronicles Ten Years of the Enormous Star

June 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

Most experts advise against staring at the sun for more than a few seconds, and yet, a new timelapse from NASA lets viewers peer into the fiery mass for an entire decade. During the course of ten years, the Solar Dynamics Observatory took more than 425 million images of the massive star that were captured .75 seconds apart. Aggregated into an hour-long compilation titled “A Decade of Sun,” the photographs provide visual evidence of how the giant orb functions and its influence on the rest of the solar system. Each image was captured at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, or one-billionth of a meter, to show the exterior atmospheric layer that’s called the corona.

NASA has shared on YouTube a list of notable moments, including an appearance by Venus and an iconic interruption in 2012. Most of the dark spots in the video are a result of the earth or moon passing in between the Solar Dynamics Observatory and blocking its view, although there was a longer lapse in 2016 due to an equipment malfunction. When the spacecraft was recalibrating its tools, the sun shifts to one side of the screen.

Head to YouTube to dive into more of NASA’s explorations into outer space.