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Design

Cosmic Cliffs Infinite Galaxy Puzzle Features New Imagery from the James Webb Space Telescope

July 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All photos courtesy Nervous System, shared with permission

This week, the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope amazed and daunted us with their inordinately deep looks at the cosmos, particularly the shot of the glimmering star-forming region known as the “Cosmic Cliffs” of the Carina Nebula. The team over at the Catskills-based studio Nervous System translated this galactic masterpiece into a new, similarly expansive infinity puzzle intended to be tiled continuously, with no predetermined shape, start, or end. Similar to its other designs, this iteration includes four whimsy cuts in the shape of an astronaut, a shooting star, a satellite, and the gold mirrors of the groundbreaking telescope itself. Try your hand at puzzling together distant galaxies by picking up the 264-piece jigsaw from the Nervous System shop.

 

 

 



Photography Science

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Reveals Astounding, Unprecedented Views of the Universe

July 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula. All images courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope unveiled its first-ever collection of high-resolution color images capturing an exceptional amount of detail about the universe. The instrument reaches deeper into the cosmos than any before.

Launched in December, Webb is the world’s largest and most powerful observer with the ability to view cosmic bodies like the atmospheres of exoplanets, or those outside our solar system, and some of the first galaxies to emerge following the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago. The telescope is equipped with a host of near-infrared tools that will help visualize galactic phenomena and celestial bodies that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. Webb is capable of getting four times closer to the cosmological event than the Hubble Space Telescope, which helps scientists better understand how the universe has evolved since.

Preparation for the mission began in the 1990s, and the 6.7-ton telescope is currently focused on documenting planetary evolution and spectroscopic data about their chemical makeup, which involves targeting five cosmic objects: the gassy planet WASP-96 b that’s about 1,150 light-years away, the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet galaxy, the SMACS 0723 galaxy clusters, and the 7,600 light-years away Carina Nebula with enormous stars that dwarf the sun.

 

The very first images include a stunning composite of SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. Rich with glimmering galaxies, the composite comprises “a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” administrators said in a statement. There’s also the mesmerizing Southern Ring Nebula, which is comprised of shells of dust and gas released by two dying stars, and Stephen’s Quintet, five glowing galaxies captured in Webb’s largest composite to date, reaching a size that would span approximately one-fifth of the moon’s diameter.

Perhaps the most stunning image from the first release of visuals is that of the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, which shows what researchers refer to as “cosmic cliffs,” or what appears to be rugged, mountain-like forms that are actually the edges of immense gaseous activity. The tallest pinnacles of that celestial body are about seven light-years high.

Webb was designed to spend the next decade in space, however, a successful launch preserved substantial fuel, and NASA now anticipates a trove of insights about the universe for the next twenty years. Follow its movements with NASA’s tracker, Where is Webb?

 

Southern Ring Nebula (NIRCam Image)

SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago

Left: SMACS 0723 captured by Hubble. Right: SMACS 0723 captured by James Webb

Carina Nebula, detail

 

 



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.