NASA asked the public to vote for their favorite satellite image from the series created by the U.S. Geological Survey, “Earth as Art,” and posted the five most favorited images about a month ago. “Earth as Art” is composed of images taken by satellites part of the Landsat Program, which is managed by both NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S. Geological Survey selected certain features from the images and colored them from a digital palate. The series was created for aesthetic purposes rather than scientific interpretation.
Personally, I can’t choose. They’re all gorgeous.
Another absolutely gorgeous film by NASA: The Pursuit of Light.
“Stars afire, the endless void recedes.”
NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered the first Earth-size planets orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun.
The discovery marks the next important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth. The new planets are thought to be rocky. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth. Kepler-20f is a bit larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.
NASA vows James Webb Space Telescope on track for 2018
After a series of delays and billions spent over budget, the telescope is on track to launch in 2018 at a total project cost of $8.8 billion.
Just blogged this photo last week(?), but here it is again.
This Planet Smells Funny:
Giant planet GJ 436b in the constellation Leo is missing something—and that something is swamp gas.
To the surprise of astronomers who have been studying the Neptune-sized planet using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, GJ 436b has very little methane—an ingredient common to many planets in our own solar system. This artist’s concept shows the unusual, methane-free world partially eclipsed by its star. Models of planetary atmospheres indicate that any world with the common mix of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, and a temperature up to 1,000 Kelvin (1,340 degrees Fahrenheit) should have a large amount of methane and a small amount of carbon monoxide. But at about 800 Kelvin (or 980 degrees Fahrenheit), GJ 436b it does not. The finding demonstrates the diversity of exoplanets and the need for further study.
Venus being awesome.
This hemispheric view of Venus was created using more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, and is centered on the planet’s North Pole. The Magellan spacecraft imaged more than 98 percent of the planet Venus and a mosaic of the Magellan images (most with illumination from the west) forms the image base. Gaps in the Magellan coverage were filled with images from the Earth-based Arecibo radar in a region centered roughly on 0 degree latitude and longitude, and with a neutral tone elsewhere (primarily near the south pole). This composite image was processed to improve contrast and to emphasize small features, and was color-coded to represent elevation. Gaps in the elevation data from the Magellan radar altimeter were filled with altimetry from the Venera spacecraft and the Pioneer Venus missions.