Beautiful Cosmic Disorientation

This Hubble image shows how young, energetic, massive stars illuminate and sculpt their birthplace with powerful winds and searing ultraviolet radiation. In this Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the “Cosmic Reef,” because it resembles an undersea world. The sparkling centerpiece of NGC 2014 is a grouping of bright, hefty stars, each 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun. The stars’ ultraviolet radiation heats the surrounding dense gas. The massive stars also unleash fierce winds of charged particles that blast away lower-density gas, forming the bubble-like structures seen on the right. The stars’ powerful stellar winds are pushing gas and dust to the denser  left side of the nebula, where it is piling up, creating a series of dark ridges bathed in starlight. The blue areas in NGC 2014 reveal the glow of oxygen, heated to nearly 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit by the blast of ultraviolet light. The cooler, red gas indicates the presence of hydrogen and nitrogen. By contrast, the seemingly isolated blue nebula at lower left (NGC 2020) has been created by a solitary mammoth star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. The blue gas  was ejected by the star through a series of eruptive events during which it lost part of its outer envelope of material. The image, taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, commemorates the Earth-orbiting observatory’s 30 years in space.

Astrophysicist Katie Mack published a wonderful video titled “Disorientation” just over a year ago that combines cosmic images with her poem of the same name. https://youtu.be/2wT1-bRj9wI I found out about the video while watching another terrific video commemorating the Hubble Telescope’s 30 anniversary on the It’s Ok To Be Smart channel, titled “Fly Through a…… Continue reading Beautiful Cosmic Disorientation

Spectacular BECO cutoff during Starliner launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed Orbital Flight Test launched at 6:36 a.m. EST and is Starliner’s maiden mission to the International Space Station for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The mission will serve as an end-to-end test of the system's capabilities. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA and Boeing launched the Starliner Commercial Crew space craft yesterday. One of the stages is BECO cutoff where the main booster detaches from the rocket, prior to the Centaur engine starting up, and pushing Starliner into orbit. There’s an awesome view of the rocket from the ground that shows this spectacular effect at BECO…… Continue reading Spectacular BECO cutoff during Starliner launch

Generational differences in our Space Age

First All Women Spacewalk At The ISS NASA streamed a milestone in Human spaceflight yesterday: an all women spacewalk at the International Space Station. Although it wasn’t exactly a thrilling ride (I’m pretty sure that when it comes to working in Earth orbit, “thrilling” isn’t what you want), it was still momentous in that both…… Continue reading Generational differences in our Space Age

Thank you for the wonderful Opportunity to visit Mars

Rover Tracks in Northward View Along West Rim of Endeavour, False Color

This last week saw the official end of the Opportunity rover’s mission on Mars. NASA was unable to coax it back to life after signalling it for about eight months. This remarkable rover continued exploring Mars long after it’s original 90 day mission. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ll-VHYxWXU Drive along with the NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover and hear the…… Continue reading Thank you for the wonderful Opportunity to visit Mars

Grainy Moon photos were a ruse!

First View of Earth from Moon

Those grainy Moon photos the public saw back in the early days of NASA’s Moon missions were a ruse! No, not that ruse. Humans really went to the Moon. The ruse is that NASA actually captured much higher resolution images, but didn’t disclose them publicly because they didn’t want the Soviets to know how good…… Continue reading Grainy Moon photos were a ruse!

Voyager 2 enters interstellar space and all I can think about are Klingons

PIA17462: Voyager 1 Entering Interstellar Space (Artist Concept)

Last week we learned that Voyager 2 had followed in its sibling’s metaphorical footsteps, and entered interstellar space. According to Ars Technica: On Monday, NASA announced that one of its longest-running experiments has started a new phase. Five years after Voyager 1 reached interstellar space, its sibling, Voyager 2, has joined it there. While the…… Continue reading Voyager 2 enters interstellar space and all I can think about are Klingons

The sound of wind on Mars

NASA InSight on Mars

NASA’s InSight probe has heard the sound of wind on Mars. Just think about that for a moment: the sound of wind on Mars! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT50Q_Zbf3s Listen to Martian wind blow across NASA’s InSight lander. The spacecraft’s seismometer and air pressure sensor picked up vibrations from 10-15 mph (16-24 kph) winds as they blew across Mars’…… Continue reading The sound of wind on Mars

How Humans first walked on the Moon in Apollo 11

Aldrin Looks Back at Tranquility Base

Vox has a terrific video that explains how the Apollo 11 mission worked, and how the astronauts that took part in the mission made their way to the Moon and back. https://youtu.be/OCjhCL2iqlQ If you’re into old footage of historical events like this, also be sure to check out the CBS coverage of the lunar landing…… Continue reading How Humans first walked on the Moon in Apollo 11