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Like humans, our Sun loses mass as it ages, weakening its gravitational pull. To study the dynamics of our aging star, researchers have enlisted Mercury, the smallest, innermost planet in the solar system. Mercury’s proximity to the Sun and small size make it exquisitely sensitive to the dynamics of the Sun and its gravitational pull. 
Now, a team of scientists has indirectly measured this mass loss and other solar parameters by looking at changes in Mercury’s orbit. The new values improve upon earlier predictions by reducing the amount of uncertainty and this new estimate of the rate of solar mass loss represents one of the first times this value has been constrained based on observations rather than theoretical calculations. 
Seen here is Mercury backdropped by our Sun in an image taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. 
Credits: NASA/SDO
#nasa #space #sun #solar #question #mercury #solarsystem #science #mass
Antarctica from Above: Flying for Science, Finding Beauty

These images, captured between Nov. 4 and Jan. 11, were all taken during operational flights to survey the snow and ice in the polar region below but, there is no denying their beauty…

Our mission, Operation IceBridge, is in its ninth year of flights to map the snow and ice of Antarctica. It is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown and yields an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These views from above are intended to provide a tremendous amount of information about the huge expanses of snow and ice around Earth’s polar regions and how they are changing. In addition, this critical data is used to predict the response of Earth’s polar ice to climate change and resulting sea-level rise.

To view more images from our IceBridge mission and learn about the research being collected, visit: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/OperationIceBridge/ 
Photo Credit: NASA/Digital Mapping System/ John Sonntag /NathanKurtz

#ice #earth #antartica #icebridge #snow #peaks #mountains #sea #polar #climate #science #art #nasa #picoftheday #pictureoftheday
Millions AND billions! This enormous galaxy cluster, seen by our Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble), contains the mass of a staggering three million billion suns! Nicknamed “El Gordo” (“the Fat One” in Spanish), it is the largest, hottest and brightest X-ray galaxy ever discovered in the distant Universe. 
Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the Universe that are bound together by gravity. They form over billions of years as smaller groups of galaxies slowly come together. In 2012, observations showed that El Gordo is actually composed of two galaxy clusters colliding at millions of kilometers per hour. 
The formation of galaxy clusters depends heavily on dark matter and dark energy; studying such clusters can therefore help shed light on these elusive phenomena. In 2014, Hubble found that most of El Gordo’s mass is concealed in the form of dark matter. Evidence suggests that El Gordo’s “normal” matter — largely composed of hot gas that is bright in the X-ray wavelength domain — is being torn from the dark matter in the collision. The hot gas is slowing down, while the dark matter is not. 
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, RELICS 
#nasa #space #hubble #spothubble #galaxy #cluster #galaxycluster #milliion #billion #telescope #elgordo #observe #science #discover #darkmatter #universe #astrophysics #solarsystem #light #beautiful #pictureoftheday
“Pardon Me!”…This supermassive black hole, billions of times the mass of our Sun, was caught by our Chandra X-Ray Observatory doing some cosmic snacking then
Saturn’s rings, made of countless icy particles, form a translucent veil in this view from our Cassini spacecraft. That little dot peeking through the ring gap is Saturn’s tiny moon Pan, which is about 17 miles across. Beyond, we can see the arc of Saturn itself, its cloud tops streaked with dark shadows cast by the rings. 
This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 12, 2016, at a distance of approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Pan. 
Although the Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017, an enormous collection of data about Saturn – the giant planet, its magnetosphere, rings and moons – will continue to yield new discoveries for decades to come. 
Want to learn more about the giant ringed planet? Check out the latest Gravity Assist Podcast to explore all of Saturn’s mysteries: go.nasa.gov/GravityAssistSaturn 
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute 
#nasa #space #saturn #pan #cassini #spacecraft #moon #rings #planet #solarsystem #explore #discover #pictureoftheday #veil #ice #icy #beautiful #mission #science #data
Bright and early this morning, a SpaceX #Dragon cargo vehicle departed its month-long home on the International Space Station (@iss). Astronauts Joe Acaba and Scott Tingle of NASA released the spacecraft from the station's robotic arm at 4:58 a.m. EST. Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft currently able to return to Earth intact, carried nearly 4,100 pounds of cargo and science experiments back to our home planet. 
Currently, six humans are living and working on the space station, which orbits our planet at 17,500 mph. Located 250 miles above Earth, the crew conducts important science and research that will help send us deeper into the solar system than ever before. 
Credit: NASA 
#nasa #space #spacex #spacecraft #science #research #depart #orbit #earth #crew #astronauts #video #departure #cargo #experiments
The rich, colorful tapestry of Jupiter's southern hemisphere abound with vibrant cloud bands and storms was beheld by our Juno (@NasaJuno) spacecraft from 8,453 miles above during its tenth close flyby of the giant planet on Dec. 16, 2017. The dark region in the far left is called the South Temperate Belt. Intersecting the belt is a ghost-like feature of slithering white clouds, the largest feature in Jupiter's low latitudes.

Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. All of JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products! Just visit go.nasa.gov/JunoCam.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

#nasa #space #juno #junocam #spacecraft #jupiter #planet #solarsystem #aurora #clouds #storm #swirls #turbulent #atmosphere #pictureoftheday #beautiful #textured #explore #discover #science #southern #hemisphere
Looking for planets outside our solar system, also known as exoplanets, just got a little more complicated. Scientists typically search for patterns like rings, arcs and spirals in disks of dust and gas around young stars because those patterns are often considered a sign that an unseen planet orbits a star. But this new simulation shows that planets aren’t the only explanation — the dust and gas in the disk can interact to make those patterns, too.

The light from the star strips the dust of electrons, which heats up the gas, which traps more dust, creating a cycle. Lumps of dust grow into spirals, rings and arcs. No planets necessary. Of course, planets could still be the cause, but the new study cautions against jumping to conclusions!

Credit: NASA/Alex Richert

#nasa #space #simulation #stars #space #exoplanets #astronomy #astrophysics #spiral #ring #arc #dust #science #animation #light #orbit
Behold the gold! The massive, 18-segment primary mirror of our James Webb Space Telescope (@NASAWebb) will allow us to see out to 13 billion years of cosmic time. Spying some of the very first luminous objects formed in the universe, Webb will not only change what we know…but will change how we think about ourselves.

Ahead of its launch next year, the telescope is being put to the test! In order to ensure it can withstand the extreme environment of space, Webb was put into a cryogenic chamber at our Johnson Space Center (@NASAJohnson) for about 100 days. These cryogenic tests, performed in a massive thermal vacuum chamber that is capable of reaching temperatures of -440°F/-262°C, mimic the extreme coldness of space. Once in space, Webb will travel more than 1 million miles from Earth, where it will need to operate perfectly in theses frigid conditions.

One of the main science goals of Webb is to look back through time when galaxies were young. This giant, gold-plated primary mirror will allow Webb to do just that. Check out the people in the picture for scale!

A telescope’s sensitivity, or how much detail it can see, is directly related to the size of the mirror area that collects light from the objects being observed. A larger area collects more light, just like a larger bucket collects more water in a rain shower. A mirror the size of Webb’s has never before been launched into space! Why is the mirror gold? Gold improves the mirror's reflection of infrared light.

Learn more about this mission at nasa.gov/webb.

Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

#nasa #space #webb #jameswebb #jwst #telescope #mirror #gold #cryogenic #test #cold #freezing #billion #solarsystem #universe #science #technology #johnsonspacecenter #chamber #pictureoftheday #beautiful #nofilter
Just days after a powerful nor’easter dumped snow across a thousand miles of the U.S. East Coast, another blast of bitterly cold air spilled into the region. One of our Earth observing satellites saw the many rivers, bays and estuaries that have frozen over, including some that only rarely have ice. 
Swipe to see them all! 
The first image shows ice in the Delaware Bay – between New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware – and the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay between Maryland and Delaware. 
Ice in the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina is visible in the second image. 
The third image shows Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, with ice in Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound. 
The Terra satellite that captured these views explores the connections between Earth's atmosphere, land, snow and ice, ocean, and energy balance to understand Earth's climate and climate change and to map the impact of human activity and natural disasters on communities and ecosystems. 
Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response/Adam Voiland 
#nasa #space #earth #ice #winter #cold #rivers #bays #estuaries #frozen #icy #noreaster #snow #weather #satellite #earthscience #planet #delaware #northcarolina #maryland #chesapeake #albemarle #rhodeisland #buzzardsbay #nantucket #sound #science
Mind-bending, color-enhanced swirls of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere can be seen in this Juno spacecraft (@NASAJuno) image of the planet. Juno captured this picture of colorful, textured clouds in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere on Dec. 16, 2017 at a distance of about 8,292 miles above the cloud tops. 
Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. All of JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products! Just visit www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam. 
Our Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016 with a goal to understand the origin and evolution of the planet, look for a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s magnetic field, measure water and ammonia in the atmosphere and observe the planet’s auroras. 
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran 
#nasa #space #juno #junocam #spacecraft #jupiter #planet #solarsystem #aurora #clouds #storm #swirls #turbulent #atmosphere #pictureoftheday #beautiful #textured #explore #discover #science #northern #hemisphere
Beautiful, sparkling arms swirl outward from a bar slicing through this galaxy’s center in this image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble). It is classified as an active galaxy, which means that it hosts an active galactic nucleus – a compact region at a galaxy’s center where material is dragged towards a supermassive black hole. As this black hole devours the surrounding matter it emits intense radiation, causing it to shine brightly. 
But this galaxy is more exotic still. It essentially acts as a giant astronomical laser that also spews out light at microwave, not visible, wavelengths — this type of object is dubbed a megamaser (maser being the term for a microwave laser). Megamasers such as this can be some 100 million times brighter than masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way! 
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA 
#nasa #space #hubble #spothubble #telescope #galaxy #universe #solarsystem #swirl #arms #beautiful #center #active #microwave #visible #light #bright #pictureoftheday #astronomy #science
What’s up in the night sky for the rest of January? On the morning of Jan. 6, look in the south-southeast sky 45 minutes before sunrise to see Jupiter and fainter Mars. Mars is only one-sixth the apparent diameter of Jupiter, but the two offer a great binocular and telescopic view with a pretty color contrast. They remain in each other’s neighborhood from Jan. 5-8. 
Also, to end the month, a great total lunar eclipse! It favors the western U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii and British Columbia on Jan. 31. Australia and the Pacific Ocean are well placed to see a major portion of the eclipse–if not all of it. 
Watch to find out when and where to look up! 
Credit: NASA 
#nasa #nasagif #meteors #eclipse #astronomy #science #moon #lunareclipse #upinthesky #january #nightsky #constellations #jupiter #mars #january #whatsup
Blistering cold temperatures, heavy snow and strong winds are battering coastal areas from Florida to Maine thanks to the powerful nor-easter seen in this NOAA GOES-16 satellite image. 
This Geocolor image captured the deepening storm off the East coast of the United States on Jan. 4, 2018, at 16:22 UTC. Geocolor is a multispectral product composed of True Color (using a simulated green component) during the daytime, and an Infrared product that uses bands 7 and 13 at night. During the day, the imagery looks approximately as it would appear when viewed with human eyes from space. 
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) – R Series is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between NOAA and NASA. The GOES-16 satellite, the first of the series, provides continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s western hemisphere and space weather monitoring. 
Credit: @NOAA 
#nasa #space #storm #winter #winterishere #earth #snow #wind #cold #satellite #noaa #clouds #blizzard2018 #freezing #ice #bombcyclone #pictureoftheday
Do you see the❓rotate into view in this video of the Sun? This question mark shaped feature that was seen Dec. 21 – 22 is an elongated coronal hole, which are areas of open magnetic field that appear darker in extreme ultraviolet light. 
These holes are the source of streaming plasma that we call solar wind. While this exercise is akin to seeing shapes in clouds, it is fun to consider what the sun might be asking? Perhaps what the new year will bring? 
Credit: NASA 
#nasa #space #sun #solar #question #questionmark #curious #coronal #solarwind #plasma #streaming #ultraviolet #light #earth #solarsystem #science #video
What’s up in the night sky this January?  A meteor shower! The Quadrantid meteor shower lasts for just a few hours on Jan. 4, coinciding with a very bright, nearly full moon that will sadly wash out most of the meteors. 
ProTip: You can look in any direction to see all meteor showers. When you see one of these meteors, hold a shoestring along the path it followed. The shoestring will lead you back to the constellation containing the meteor's origin. 
Watch to find out when and where to look up! 
Credit: NASA 
#nasa #nasagif #meteors #eclipse# moon #orionids #leonids #quadrantids# lunareclipse #upinthesky #january #nightsky #constellations# jupiter #mars #january #whatsup
“Of all celestial bodies within reach or view, as far as we can see, out to the edge, the most wonderful and marvelous and mysterious is turning out to be our own planet Earth. There is nothing to match it anywhere, not yet anyway.” —Lewis Thomas

This image was taken by NavCam 1 on September 22, 2017, as our OSIRIS-REx—Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer—spacecraft completed an Earth gravity-assist maneuver—flying close enough to our planet to steal some momentum and speed up the craft on its way asteroid Bennu. This is the view from 69,000 miles away. 
The purpose of our OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is to map and return samples from asteroid Bennu, a carbon-rich hunk of rock that might contain organic materials or molecular precursors to life. NavCam images will track starfields and landmarks on Bennu to determine the spacecraft position during mission operations.

Image Credit: NASA

#NASA #space #earth #solarsystem #exploration #astropics #osirisrex #research #starfield #blackandwhite #bennu
Happy New Year’s Eve! A lunar event will greet us all in the New Year. Tomorrow, January 1, the full Moon will be at or near its closest point in its orbit around Earth, making it a supermoon. 
Sometimes, it’s hard for our eyes to distinguish these small changes in size when the Moon is high amidst the vastness of the night sky. But any time you catch a full Moon as it rises or sets, while it’s suspended low on the horizon beaming through the silhouettes of trees or buildings, its apparent size might make you do a double-take. 
You almost feel as though you could reach out, grab the glowing orb, and drop it into your coffee cup. Even more so if it’s a supermoon. 
Bundle up, get outside and look up! #HappyNewYear 
This picture was taken during the Dec. 3, 2017 supermoon. An aircraft taking off from Ronald Reagan National Airport was seen passing in front of the Moon as it rose. The Jan. 1 full Moon is the second of three consecutive supermoons. The first occurred on Dec. 3 and the third will happen on Jan. 31, 2018. 
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls 
#nasa #space #moon #supermoon #lunar #earth #january #newyear #newyearseve #orbit #orbit #solarsystem
Beneath its icy exterior shell, Saturn's moon Enceladus hides a global ocean of liquid water. This 2011 view shows a plume of water ice particles and other material spewing from the moon's south pole via fractures in the ice, backdropped by Saturn's rings glowing brightly in the sunlight. The bright speck to the right of Enceladus is a distant star.

The Cassini spacecraft took this image during its time at Saturn, which ended on Sept. 15, 2017. While the Cassini spacecraft is gone, an enormous collection of data about Saturn – the giant planet, its magnetosphere, rings and moons – will continue to yield new discoveries for decades to come.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute 
#nasa #space #saturn #cassini #spacecraft #enceladus #planets #solarsystem #astronomy #observe #science #picoftheday #exploration
We posted more than 360 images and videos to our Instagram account in 2017. This video showcases the 10 most liked posts from the year. From images of our beautiful planet Earth to the 2017 total solar eclipse, we shared the universe with our more than 29 million followers on Instagram. Which one is your favorite?

Thank you for a spectacular year!

Credit: NASA 
#nasa #space #like #2017 #year #newyear #images #instagram #beautiful #earth #blackhole #spacestation #astronauts #science #solarsystem