Gemini 4

The Gemini program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, primarily to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives of the program included: long duration flights in excess of of the requirements of a lunar landing mission; rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit; the development of operational proficiency of both flight and ground crews; the conduct of experiments in space; extravehicular operations; active control of reentry flight path to achieve a precise landing point; and onboard orbital navigation. Each Gemini mission carried two astronauts into Earth orbit for periods ranging from 5 hours to 14 days. The program consisted of 10 crewed launches, 2 uncrewed launches, and 7 target vehicles, at a total cost of approximately 1,280 million dollars.

Gemini 4 was the second crewed mission of the Gemini series and carried James McDivitt and Edward White on a 4-day, 62-orbit, 98-hr flight from June 3 to June 7, 1965. The mission included the first American spacewalk. The objective of the mission was to test the performance of the astronauts and capsule and to evaluate work procedures, schedules, and flight planning for an extended length of time in space. Secondary objectives included demonstration of extravehicular activity in space, conduct stationkeeping and rendezvous maneuvers, evaluate spacecraft systems, demonstrate the capability to make significant in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers and use of the maneuvering system as a backup reentry system, and conduct 11 experiments.

Credit: NASA/JSC/Arizona State University


“Earthrise,” as photographed by the Apollo 8 crew on Christmas Eve 1968, laid over NASA’s 2013 recreation using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) data.

Credit: NASA/GSFC

Earthrise,” as photographed by the Apollo 8 crew on Christmas Eve 1968, laid over NASA’s 2013 recreation using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) data.

Credit: NASA/GSFC

"Now, for the first time in its billions of years of history, our planet is protected by far-seeing sentinels, able to anticipate danger from the distant future – a comet on a collision course, or global warming–and devise schemes for doing something about it. The planet has finally grown its own nervous system: us." 
- Daniel Dennett ( We Earth Neurons )

"Now, for the first time in its billions of years of history, our planet is protected by far-seeing sentinels, able to anticipate danger from the distant future – a comet on a collision course, or global warming–and devise schemes for doing something about it. The planet has finally grown its own nervous system: us."

- Daniel Dennett ( We Earth Neurons )

MESSENGER’s receding view of Earth

The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. Several hundred images, taken with the wide-angle camera in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), were sequenced into a movie documenting the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth.
Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth - farther than the Moon’s orbit - when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

Credit: NASA

MESSENGER’s receding view of Earth

The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. Several hundred images, taken with the wide-angle camera in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), were sequenced into a movie documenting the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth.

Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth - farther than the Moon’s orbit - when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

Credit: NASA

huffingtonpost:

Everything you need to know about checking the four upcoming lunar eclipses here. 

givemeinternet:

Blood Moon gif stabilized and slowed.

givemeinternet:

Blood Moon gif stabilized and slowed.

pennyfornasa:

Saturn May Have Produced a New Moon!
Say hello to Peggy! This new possible moon was spotted all clumped up on the outer rings of Saturn. Carl Murray (Queen Mary University, London), the lead author of the research paper recently published in the journal Icarus said, “We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.” Nobody knows yet what Peggy might be, but one possibility is that it’s an accumulation of ring material that has collapsed gravitationally under its own weight. Some of Saturn’s moons, especially the ones orbiting near the rings, are thought to have formed this way.
It’s always amazing to see the discoveries heralded by astronomers that demonstrate how much we have yet to learn about our own Solar System. It’s why NASA and space exploration is important because we should try and make sense of the Universe and how it came to be. Seeing a possible moon form would be a first for us and it’s happening right in our own backyard! Cassini will try and get a closer look at Peggy in late 2016 when it makes a closer approach
We could continue making discoveries and send more missions out into the Solar System, and even beyond with a Penny4NASA. So what are you waiting for? Take action today by visiting www.penny4nasa.com/take-action
Read more about the discovery of Peggy here: http://www.universetoday.com/111233/is-saturn-making-a-new-moon/

pennyfornasa:

Saturn May Have Produced a New Moon!

Say hello to Peggy! This new possible moon was spotted all clumped up on the outer rings of Saturn. Carl Murray (Queen Mary University, London), the lead author of the research paper recently published in the journal Icarus said, “We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.” Nobody knows yet what Peggy might be, but one possibility is that it’s an accumulation of ring material that has collapsed gravitationally under its own weight. Some of Saturn’s moons, especially the ones orbiting near the rings, are thought to have formed this way.

It’s always amazing to see the discoveries heralded by astronomers that demonstrate how much we have yet to learn about our own Solar System. It’s why NASA and space exploration is important because we should try and make sense of the Universe and how it came to be. Seeing a possible moon form would be a first for us and it’s happening right in our own backyard! Cassini will try and get a closer look at Peggy in late 2016 when it makes a closer approach

We could continue making discoveries and send more missions out into the Solar System, and even beyond with a Penny4NASA. So what are you waiting for? Take action today by visiting www.penny4nasa.com/take-action

Read more about the discovery of Peggy here: http://www.universetoday.com/111233/is-saturn-making-a-new-moon/

Ganymede and Callisto are similar in size and are made of a similar mixture of ice and rock, but data from the Galileo and Voyager spacecraft show that they look different at the surface and on the inside. Just like Earth and Venus, Ganymede and Callisto are twins, and understanding how they were born the same and grew up to be so different is of tremendous interest to planetary scientists.

Ganymede and Callisto’s evolutionary paths diverged about 3.8 billion years ago during the Late Heavy Bombardment, the phase in lunar history dominated by large impact events. Impacts during this period melted Ganymede so thoroughly and deeply that the heat could not be quickly removed. All of Ganymede’s rock sank to its center the same way that all the chocolate chips sink to the bottom of a melted carton of ice cream. Callisto received fewer impacts at lower velocities and avoided complete melting. Ganymede is closer to Jupiter and therefore is hit by twice as many icy impactors as Callisto, and the impactors hitting Ganymede have a higher average velocity.

Image Credit: NOAA/GSD

(Source: swri.org)

Happy Yuri’s Night!

Happy Yuri’s Night!

The planetary nebula Abell 33 captured using ESO’s Very Large Telescope

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this eye-catching image of planetary nebula Abell 33. Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble is, by chance, aligned with a foreground star, and bears an uncanny resemblance to a diamond engagement ring. This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost perfectly circular on the sky.

Credit: ESO

The planetary nebula Abell 33 captured using ESO’s Very Large Telescope

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this eye-catching image of planetary nebula Abell 33. Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble is, by chance, aligned with a foreground star, and bears an uncanny resemblance to a diamond engagement ring. This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost perfectly circular on the sky.

Credit: ESO

NASA’s OCO-2 Brings Sharp New Focus on Global Carbon

Simply by breathing, humans have played a small part in the planet-wide balancing act called the carbon cycle throughout our existence. However, in the last few hundred years, we have taken a larger role. Our activities, such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation, are pushing the cycle out of its natural balance, adding more and more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Natural processes are working hard to keep the carbon cycle in balance by absorbing about half of our carbon emissions, limiting the extent of climate change. There’s a lot we don’t know about these processes, including where they are occurring and how they might change as the climate warms. To understand and prepare for the carbon cycle of the future, we have an urgent need to find out.
This animation shows the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, the first NASA spacecraft dedicated to studying carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. In July 2014, NASA will launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to study the fate of carbon dioxide worldwide. OCO-2 will not be the first satellite to measure carbon dioxide, but it’s the first with the observational strategy, precision, resolution and coverage needed to answer these questions about these little-monitored regions.
OCO-2’s scientific instrument uses spectrometers, which split sunlight into a spectrum of component colors, or wavelengths. Like all other molecules, carbon dioxide molecules absorb only certain colors of light, producing a unique pattern of dark features in the spectrum. The intensity of the dark features increases as the number of carbon dioxide molecules increases in the air that the spectrometer is looking through.
OCO-2 will collect 24 measurements a second over Earth’s sunlit hemisphere, totaling more than a million measurements each day. Fewer than 20 percent of these measurements will be sufficiently cloud-free to allow an accurate estimate of carbon dioxide, but that number will still yield 100 to 200 times as many measurements as the currently observing Japanese Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) mission. The measurements will be used as input for global atmospheric models.
For more information about OCO-2, visit: https://oco.jpl.nasa.gov


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s OCO-2 Brings Sharp New Focus on Global Carbon

Simply by breathing, humans have played a small part in the planet-wide balancing act called the carbon cycle throughout our existence. However, in the last few hundred years, we have taken a larger role. Our activities, such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation, are pushing the cycle out of its natural balance, adding more and more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Natural processes are working hard to keep the carbon cycle in balance by absorbing about half of our carbon emissions, limiting the extent of climate change. There’s a lot we don’t know about these processes, including where they are occurring and how they might change as the climate warms. To understand and prepare for the carbon cycle of the future, we have an urgent need to find out.

This animation shows the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, the first NASA spacecraft dedicated to studying carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. In July 2014, NASA will launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to study the fate of carbon dioxide worldwide. OCO-2 will not be the first satellite to measure carbon dioxide, but it’s the first with the observational strategy, precision, resolution and coverage needed to answer these questions about these little-monitored regions.

OCO-2’s scientific instrument uses spectrometers, which split sunlight into a spectrum of component colors, or wavelengths. Like all other molecules, carbon dioxide molecules absorb only certain colors of light, producing a unique pattern of dark features in the spectrum. The intensity of the dark features increases as the number of carbon dioxide molecules increases in the air that the spectrometer is looking through.

OCO-2 will collect 24 measurements a second over Earth’s sunlit hemisphere, totaling more than a million measurements each day. Fewer than 20 percent of these measurements will be sufficiently cloud-free to allow an accurate estimate of carbon dioxide, but that number will still yield 100 to 200 times as many measurements as the currently observing Japanese Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) mission. The measurements will be used as input for global atmospheric models.

For more information about OCO-2, visit: https://oco.jpl.nasa.gov

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Photo by Maynard Pittendreigh
Comet Ikeya–Seki, formally designated C/1965 S1, 1965 VIII, and 1965f, was a long-period comet discovered independently by Kaoru Ikeya and Tsutomu Seki. First observed as a faint telescopic object on September 18, 1965, the first calculations of its orbit suggested that on October 21, it would pass just 450,000 km above the Sun’s surface, and would probably become extremely bright.
Comets can defy all predictions, but Ikeya–Seki performed as expected. As it approached perihelion observers reported that it was clearly visible in the daytime sky next to the Sun. In Japan, where it reached perihelion at local noon, it was seen shining at magnitude −10. It proved to be one of the brightest comets seen in the last thousand years, and is sometimes known as the Great Comet of 1965.
The comet was seen to break into three pieces just before its perihelion passage. The three pieces continued in almost identical orbits, and the comet re-appeared in the morning sky in late October, showing a very bright tail. By early 1966, it had faded from view as it receded into the outer solar system.
Ikeya–Seki is a member of the Kreutz Sungrazers, which are suggested to be fragments of a large comet which broke up in 1106

Photo by Maynard Pittendreigh

Comet Ikeya–Seki, formally designated C/1965 S1, 1965 VIII, and 1965f, was a long-period comet discovered independently by Kaoru Ikeya and Tsutomu Seki. First observed as a faint telescopic object on September 18, 1965, the first calculations of its orbit suggested that on October 21, it would pass just 450,000 km above the Sun’s surface, and would probably become extremely bright.

Comets can defy all predictions, but Ikeya–Seki performed as expected. As it approached perihelion observers reported that it was clearly visible in the daytime sky next to the Sun. In Japan, where it reached perihelion at local noon, it was seen shining at magnitude −10. It proved to be one of the brightest comets seen in the last thousand years, and is sometimes known as the Great Comet of 1965.

The comet was seen to break into three pieces just before its perihelion passage. The three pieces continued in almost identical orbits, and the comet re-appeared in the morning sky in late October, showing a very bright tail. By early 1966, it had faded from view as it receded into the outer solar system.

Ikeya–Seki is a member of the Kreutz Sungrazers, which are suggested to be fragments of a large comet which broke up in 1106


Comet Arend–Roland was discovered on November 8, 1956, by Belgian astronomers Sylvain Arend and Georges Roland on photographic plates. As the eighth comet found in 1956, it was named Arend–Roland 1956h after its discoverers. Because it was the third comet to pass through perihelion during 1957, it was then renamed 1957 III. Finally, it received the standard IAU designation C/1956 R1 (Arend–Roland), with the ‘C/’ indicating it was a non-periodic comet and the R1 showing it was the first comet reported as discovered in the half-month designated by R. The last is equivalent to the period September 1–15.
Astronomer Carl Sagan relates an anecdote on page 80 of his book Cosmos about being on duty in an observatory near Chicago in 1957 when a late night phone call from an inebriated man asked what was the “fuzzy thing” they were seeing in the sky. Sagan told the man it was a comet (Arend–Roland). The man asked what a comet was, and Sagan answered that it was “a snowball, one mile wide”. After a long pause, the man said, quoting Sagan: “Lemme talk to a real ‘shtronomer!”.

Comet Arend–Roland was discovered on November 8, 1956, by Belgian astronomers Sylvain Arend and Georges Roland on photographic plates. As the eighth comet found in 1956, it was named Arend–Roland 1956h after its discoverers. Because it was the third comet to pass through perihelion during 1957, it was then renamed 1957 III. Finally, it received the standard IAU designation C/1956 R1 (Arend–Roland), with the ‘C/’ indicating it was a non-periodic comet and the R1 showing it was the first comet reported as discovered in the half-month designated by R. The last is equivalent to the period September 1–15.

Astronomer Carl Sagan relates an anecdote on page 80 of his book Cosmos about being on duty in an observatory near Chicago in 1957 when a late night phone call from an inebriated man asked what was the “fuzzy thing” they were seeing in the sky. Sagan told the man it was a comet (Arend–Roland). The man asked what a comet was, and Sagan answered that it was “a snowball, one mile wide”. After a long pause, the man said, quoting Sagan: “Lemme talk to a real ‘shtronomer!”.

At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was farther out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured above, was floating free in space. McCandless and fellow NASAastronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an “untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984. The MMU works by shooting jets of nitrogen and has since been used to help deploy and retrieve satellites. With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit.

Credit: STS-41B, NASA

Suppose you had a single hydrogen atom and at a particular instant plotted the position of its electron. Soon afterwards, you do the same thing, and find that it is in a new position. You have no idea how it got from the first place to the second. You keep on doing this over and over again, and gradually build up a sort of 3D map of the places that the electron is likely to be found.
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle  says - loosely - that you can’t know with certainty both where an electron is and where it’s going next. That makes it impossible to plot an orbit for an electron around a nucleus, but we have a mathematical function that describes the wave-like behavior of either one electron or a pair of electrons in an atom. This function can be used to calculate the probability of finding any electron of an atom in any specific region around the atom’s nucleus.
In the hydrogen case, the electron can be found anywhere within a spherical space surrounding the nucleus. Such a region of space is called an orbital. Orbits and orbitals sound similar, but they have quite different meanings. It is essential that you understand the difference between them. You can think of an orbital as being the region of space in which the electron lives. The GIF animation shows the probability densities for the electron of a hydrogen atom in different quantum states. These orbitals form an orthonormal basis for the wave function of the electron. These shapes are intended to describe the angular forms of regions in space where the electrons occupying the orbital are likely to be found.

Suppose you had a single hydrogen atom and at a particular instant plotted the position of its electron. Soon afterwards, you do the same thing, and find that it is in a new position. You have no idea how it got from the first place to the second. You keep on doing this over and over again, and gradually build up a sort of 3D map of the places that the electron is likely to be found.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle  says - loosely - that you can’t know with certainty both where an electron is and where it’s going next. That makes it impossible to plot an orbit for an electron around a nucleus, but we have a mathematical function that describes the wave-like behavior of either one electron or a pair of electrons in an atom. This function can be used to calculate the probability of finding any electron of an atom in any specific region around the atom’s nucleus.

In the hydrogen case, the electron can be found anywhere within a spherical space surrounding the nucleus. Such a region of space is called an orbital. Orbits and orbitals sound similar, but they have quite different meanings. It is essential that you understand the difference between them. You can think of an orbital as being the region of space in which the electron lives. The GIF animation shows the probability densities for the electron of a hydrogen atom in different quantum states. These orbitals form an orthonormal basis for the wave function of the electron. These shapes are intended to describe the angular forms of regions in space where the electrons occupying the orbital are likely to be found.

(Source: goo.gl)