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MRO Spies Tiny, Bright Nucleus During Comet Flyby

High resolution image pairs made with HiRISE camera on MRO during Comet Siding Spring's closest approach to Mars on October 19. Shown at top are images of the nucleus region and inner coma. Those at bottom were exposed to show the bigger coma beginning of a tail. Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

High resolution image pairs made with HiRISE camera on MRO during Comet Siding Spring’s closest approach to Mars on October 19. Shown at top are images of the nucleus region and inner coma. Those at bottom were exposed to show the bigger coma beginning of a tail. Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

Not to be outdone by the feisty Opportunity Rover, the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) turned in its homework this evening with a fine image of comet C/2013 Siding Spring taken during closest approach on October 19.  [click to continue…]

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Water On The Moon Was Blown in by Solar Wind

Near-infrared image of the Moon's surface by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 mission     Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

Near-infrared image of the Moon’s surface by the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission. Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

When they first set foot on the Moon, the Apollo 11 astronauts painted a picture of the landscape as a bone-dry desert. So astronomers were naturally surprised when in 2009, three probes showed that a lot of water is locked up in minerals in the soil. There has been some debate as to where the water came from, but now two researchers with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, have determined that most of the water in the soil on the surface of the Moon was formed due to protons in the solar wind colliding with oxygen in lunar dust, rather than from comet or meteorite impacts.
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Video: Fly Over a Weird Landscape on Mars in 3-D

This isn’t quite like Luke’s trench run in the Battle of Yavin, but it’s waaay more awesome in that this is real.

Go grab your red–green or red–blue 3-D glasses (you always have a pair right by your desk, right?) and enjoy this great flyover video from ESA showcasing some very interesting landforms on Mars that planetary geologists refer to as ‘chaotic terrain.’ There’s nothing quite like this on Earth, and scattered throughout a large area to both the west and east of Valles Marineris are hundreds of isolated mountains up to 2,000 meters high. “Seen from orbit, they form a bizarre, chaotic pattern,” say scientists from the Mars Express orbiter.
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Awesome Photo Shows Monster Sunspot Aiming Our Way

Visible light image of the Sun captured on Oct. 19, 2014. © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

Visible light image of the Sun captured on Oct. 19, 2014. © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

It’s a-comin': a “monster” sunspot is steadily rotating around the Sun’s southern hemisphere and will soon be in position to fire flares and CMEs in our direction — and this past weekend master solar photographer Alan Friedman captured it on camera!

The image above was taken in full-spectrum visible light on Sunday, Oct. 19 by Alan from his backyard in Buffalo, New York. Sunspots 2186 (at the top limb), 2187 (upper center), 2193 (the small middle cluster) and the enormous AR2192 are easily visible as dark blotches – “cooler” regions on the Sun’s surface where upwelling magnetic fields interrupt the convective processes that drive the Sun’s energy output.

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The partially eclipsed sun sets over Island Lake north of Duluth, Minn. on May 20, 2012. Credit: Jim Schaff

The partially eclipsed sun sets over Island Lake north of Duluth, Minn. on May 20, 2012. Similar sunset photo opportunities will happen again during Thursday’s partial solar eclipse. Credit: Jim Schaff

2014 – a year rich in eclipses. The Moon dutifully slid into Earth’s shadow in April and October gifting us with two total lunars. Now it’s the Sun’s turn. This Thursday October 23 skywatchers across much of the North America and Mexico will witness a partial solar eclipse. From the eastern U.S. the eclipse will reach maximum around the time of sunset, making for dramatic picture-taking opportunities. Further west, the entire eclipse will occur with the sun up in the afternoon sky. Either way, you can’t go wrong. [click to continue…]

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