On this day in 1969, the spaceflight Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon. People watched worldwide as Armstrong took that momentous first step onto the moon, declaring, “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
One does not simply land on the moon wearing a t-shirt and jeans. See how these Historic Space Suits evolved to allow a successful landing on the moon!
It could be the Sahara or Egypt’s Western Desert, but this sand-covered crater is the latest image from Mars.
The picture was taken from US space agency Nasa’s Mars exploration rover, Opportunity, close to where the robotic unit spent the winter analysing soil and air samples. The picture shows the explorer’s deck and solar panels, tracks it had previously made and a crater that was created by an impact billions of years ago.
Opportunity has now spent 3,000 Martian days on Mars (eight and a half Earth years), and Nasa has consistently had a robot there for 15 years. Mars Pathfinder landed on 4 July 1997; Nasa’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter reached the planet while Pathfinder was still active; and Global Surveyor overlapped the active missions of the Mars Odyssey orbiter and Opportunity. The latter two are both still in service.
That’s a new image from our buds at NASA, showing the Arctic ice cap, a sort of white-capped on our blue home. If you have faith in your internet connection, you can view an 11,000 x 11,000 pixel version here.
NASA’s new Suomi NPP satellite started sending images back to Earth this year, and they are stunning. We were even treated to an updated 2012 version of the iconic Blue Marble shot (which you really must see). But as the detailed images of our planet’s climate and atmosphere roll in, so does the worry that we may be capturing a few views for the last time.
Each summer, Arctic sea ice melts and recedes to a certain degree due to higher temperatures. But over the past few decades, the melting has gotten faster and more severe (the 2011 melt was a record low). Don’t believe me? Check out this video from NASA showing the change in summer ice from the past 32 years.
Climate change models have predicted the complete loss of summer ice in the Arctic by 2070 or so. But as this years melt begins, hot and fast, 2030 is looking like a real possibility for an ice-free Arctic. That means that in as little as 20 years, this photo could be a look into the past instead of the present.
Back in 2007, black spots were discovered on Mars that are so dark that nothing inside can be seen. Quite possibly, the spots are entrances to deep underground caves capable of protecting Martian life, were it to exist.
The unusual hole pictured above was found on the slopes of the giant Martian volcano Arsia Mons. The above image was captured three weeks ago by the HiRISE instrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently circling Mars.
The holes were originally identified on lower resolution images from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, The above hole is about the size of a football field and is so deep that it is completely unilluminated by the Sun. Such holes and underground caves might be prime targets for future spacecraft, robots, and even the next generation of human interplanetary explorers.
Our planet’s proper-noun Moon, the one we call Luna, has been hanging out around Earth for about 4 billion years. A new simulation says that at any moment, Luna is not alone.
University of Helsinki researchers used a massive supercomputer to simulate 10 million tiny asteroids, just a few feet across, passing Earth. Between the gravitational pull of the Sun, Moon and Earth, tens of thousand were captured. As a result of these calculations, which would have taken your home computer six years, they estimate that at any moment Earth is joined by at least one “mini-moon”.
These tiny asteroids can orbit for years, undetected, before being pulled back into a path around the Sun. If we could capture one, imagine what we could discover about the early Solar System!
Witness the Moon’s breathtaking 4.5-billion-year evolution in less than three minutes
When we gaze up at the Moon, we expect a certain degree of consistency. Sure, it moves through its phases, shifting in and out of darkness over the course of the month, but generally speaking, the Moon’s surface looks the same to us — night after night, year after year. But the Moon has not always looked the way it does now.
In the last 4.5 billion years, the Moon has transformed from a roiling mass of ejected terrestrial matter, to an unblemished orb, to the heavily cratered, volcanic-crust laden entity we know and love today. We know these things occurred because the Moon’s surface features tell a story, and for close to three years now, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been getting an up close look at what those features have to say.
Now, the folks at NASA’s Goddard Multimedia team have used the latest data on the Moon’s history, acquired by LRO, to packr 4.5 billion years of lunar evolution into the stunning video you see up top.
What if you could use your phone to test the air for toxins? What if you could monitor your health simply by blowing on it? Sounds amazing, right? Nanosensor technology developed by NASA Ames is going to make that a reality.
Jing Li, a scientist at NASA Ames, has been working for years on what will be the greatest phone accessory of all time. It’s a small chip (about the size of a postage stamp) that houses 32 nanosensor bars. Each bar is composed of a different nano-structure material. Because each sensor bar is unique it can respond to different chemicals in different ways, enabling it to not only differentiate between them, but also to monitor their relative levels, in real time.
In its current state (which is looking mighty close to production-ready), it’s housed in a small case that attaches to a smartphone. For legal reasons they wouldn’t say which smartphone it’s built to attach to, but you can probably guess. Eventually, it will be built to attach to many other popular models. The idea is to develop a low-cost version so that consumers can afford to have them for health and safety applications. But let’s back up a second.
This nanosensor technology was originally developed by NASA Ames for space applications. This is NASA, after all. The first usage was monitoring for fuel leaks around launch vehicles. They’ve been on the International Space Station since 2008, monitoring air-quality and checking for formaldehyde in the air. Future applications could include taking samples on asteroids and Mars missions. So that’s where it started, but the Department of Homeland Security is now funding this project in order to bring it back down to earth—and to consumers.
The most exciting potential use, though, is how it could diagnose and monitor people with medical conditions. For example, for diabetes patients there is a direct correlation between the level of acetone in their breath and the level of sugar in their blood. The nanosensor could be used as a completely non-invasive diagnosis and measurement method. Just breathe on your phone. No more pricking your finger a million times a day. We have a pretty serious aversion to the word revolutionary here, but this thing fits the bill.
No team of reindeer was necessary for these holiday treats from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. A beam of radio signals, from clear across the solar system, has delivered a Christmas package of glorious images of Saturn’s largest, most colorful ornament, Titan, and other icy baubles in orbit around this splendid planet. These treats are being featured today in a public release from the mission’s imaging team.
Imaged Above In Order From Left to Right, Up, Down:
Titan and Dione — Saturn’s third-largest moon, Dione, can be seen through the haze of the planet’s largest moon, Titan, in this view of the two posing before the planet and its rings from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Orange and Blue Hazes — These views from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft look toward the south polar region of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and show a depression within the moon’s orange and blue haze layers near the south pole.
True Colors, Deceptive Sizes — Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, appears deceptively small paired here with Dione, Saturn’s third-largest moon, in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Haze Before Ice — Saturn’s moon Tethys, with its stark white icy surface, peeps out from behind the larger, hazy, colorful Titan in this view of the two moons obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Saturn’s rings lie between the two.
Titan Upfront — The colorful globe of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings in this true color snapshot from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
It may have a radius about 2.4 times that of our home planet, but NASA scientists have confirmed that Kepler-22b — depicted in the artist’s conception up top — is the first planet we’ve ever confirmed orbits within the so-called ‘habitable zone’ of a Sun-like star, making it the most Earth-like planet we’ve yet discovered.
In astronomy, the habitable zone (also known as ‘the Goldilocks zone’) is the region surrounding a star in which an orbiting planet could maintain liquid water (and, by extension, life) on its surface. And as the ‘Goldilocks’ moniker implies, whether or not a planet resides inside a habitable zone has everything to do with whether the planet is a little too cold, a little too hot, or just right, temperature-wise.
Now, before everyone destroys their minds with pure ecstasy and amazement, it’s important (and somewhat sad) to realise that there exist 2326 potential Earth-like planets in this universe of ours, and the investigations involving the Kepler telescope are likely to cause this number to escalate even further.
As the article suggests, all that’s left now is coming up with a way to make the 600-light-year trip to Kepler-22b and we can set up camp…