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Science

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse or Three Minutes of Telescopes Shooting Lasers into Space

October 9, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Shot over a period of three nights in April of this year, this timelapse from Sean Goebel shows the myriad telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The clear view at 14,000 feet is the premiere location for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere. The lasers you see are called laser guide stars and they help astronomers correct the atmospheric distortion of light by creating an artificial “star” to use as a reference point. (via Coudal)

 

 



Photography

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency

October 7, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Namib Desert / October 5, 2013

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Ganges’ dazzling delta / July 31, 2009

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Scandinavian snows / February 1, 2013

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Mississippi River Delta / May 25, 2012

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Clearwater Lakes, Canada / May 17, 2013

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Peruvian landscape / July 4, 2013

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Plentiful plankton / September 14, 2009

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Swirling cloud art in the Atlantic Ocean / June 11, 2010

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Agricultural crops in Aragon and Catalonia / November 26, 2010

Though I don’t have a homepage set, the first page in my daily rounds is always the Astronomy Picture of the Day (site currently down), a website launched by NASA and the Michigan Technological University way back in 1995, a nearly continuous publication run of 18 years. Unfortunately due some minor, uhm, budget cuts in the U.S. government, all NASA websites are currently down due to a crushing 97% cut in workforce, including the humble Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Luckily there’s at least one space agency still publishing photos of space (and space from Earth), the European Space Agency. The ESA has an incredible Observing the Earth archive that’s updated every week and each satelitte image is usually accompanied by a brief essay to explain a bit about what you’re looking at. Collected here are some of my favorite images from the last few years taken with too many different satellites to mention, and you can search photos back through 2005 here.

 

 



Photography

One Giant Leap: Frog Photobombs NASA Spacecraft Launch Photo

September 12, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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In one one of the more bizarre photobombs ever, NASA released a photograph of what appears to be a frog that may have attempted, and subsequently failed, to hitch a ride aboard a Moon-bound rocket. The shot was captured on September 7th during the launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), and NASA’s photo team confirms the image is genuine, but stated “the condition of the frog, however, is uncertain.” (via PetaPixel)

 

 



Photography

The Earth's Seasonal "Heartbeat" as Seen from Space

August 8, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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We all know that as the seasons change on Earth, temperatures rise and fall, plants grow or die, ice forms or melts away. Perhaps nobody is more aware of this than NASA’s Visible Earth team who provide a vast catalog of images of our home planet as seen from space. Last month designer, cartographer, and dataviz expert John Nelson download a sequence of twelve cloud-free satellite imagery mosaics of Earth, one from each month, and then created a number of vivid animated gifs showing the seasonal changes in vegetation and land ice around the world.

Despite having encountered numerous seasonal timelapse videos shot here on Earth, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this visualized on such a large scale from space. It really looks like a heartbeat or the action of breathing. Read more over on Nelson’s blog, or see a much larger version of the gif here. (via Co.Design)

 

 



Photography

NASA Releases Photo of Earth Taken from the Dark Side of Saturn by the Cassini Spacecraft

July 24, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Yesterday NASA published a new photograph taken on July 19, 2013, by a wide-angle camera on the Cassini spacecraft that shows a view of Earth from the dark side of Saturn. In the photo Earth is 898 million miles away and the moon appears as just a tiny protrusion off to the right (you might need to see it up close). According to NASA this is only the third time that Earth has ever been photographed from the outer solar system.

 

 



Photography

A Hurricane on Saturn

April 30, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Photographed in November of 2012 by the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera, this is a photograph of a hurricane nearly 1,250 miles wide on the surface of Saturn. Via NASA:

The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).

This image is among the first sunlit views of Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini’s imaging cameras. When the spacecraft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004, it was northern winter and the north pole was in darkness. Saturn’s north pole was last imaged under sunlight by NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1981; however, the observation geometry did not allow for detailed views of the poles. Consequently, it is not known how long this newly discovered north-polar hurricane has been active.

The Cassini–Huygens is a robotic spacecraft launched in 1997 for the purpose of studying Saturn. Since arriving in 2004 the orbiter’s mission has been extended twice. It most recently studied the Great White Spot, a massive storm that occurs at roughly 30 year intervals that is so large it can be seen from Earth with a simple telescope. (via this isn’t happiness)