Boing Boing 

Close-up images of Charon, Pluto's mysterious moon

charon

A cold and distant place, imaged for the first time from a distance seemingly within reach.

Read the rest

Watch: NASA celebrates 50 years of planetary science awesomeness

On July 14, 2015, New Horizons will take the first close-up pictures of Pluto, exactly 50 years to the day after Mariner 4 flew by Mars and took the first close-up pictures ever of another planet.

Read the rest

Epic photo of the International Space Station passing in front of the moon

thumb

International Space Station over Australia,” by Dylan O'Donnell.

Read the rest

New NASA imagery reveals extent of tar on Santa Barbara beaches left by Refugio oil spill

AVIRIS-NG red-green-blue (visible) aerial image of the Refugio Incident oil spill, showing oil on the water and on nearby Santa Barbara Channel beaches. NASA/JPL-Caltech


AVIRIS-NG red-green-blue aerial image of Refugio Incident oil spill, showing oil on the water and nearby beaches. NASA/JPL-Caltech

When an oil pipeline ruptured near Santa Barbara, California, on May 19, it leaked 105,000 barrels of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach, and another 21,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean in the north Santa Barbara Channel. The Refugio Incident created an environmental nightmare for local beaches and wildlife, which continues still.

Read the rest

NASA: We're headed for Jupiter's moon Europa

NASA today announced that a new mission to Europa is moving forward from concept review to development.

Read the rest

Space in ultra-high def: NASA releases 4K video from International Space Station

“The view of life in space is getting a major boost with the introduction of 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video, providing an unprecedented look at what it's like to live and work aboard the International Space Station,” NASA says in the notes for this wonderful new ISS footage.

vW2QNN

“This important new capability will allow researchers to acquire high resolution/high frame rate video to provide new insight into the vast array of experiments taking place every day. It will also bestow the most breathtaking views of planet Earth and space station activities ever acquired for consumption by those still dreaming of making the trip to outer space.”

Here's the HD download link.

KkDLJn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft to do close fly-by of Saturn's moon Dione on June 16

dione_cassini

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will cruise very close to of Saturn's moon Dione on June 16, coming within 321 miles (516 kilometers) of the moon's surface if all goes as planned.

Read the rest

Astronaut Terry Virts's photo of the Great Pyramids

great-pyramids-virts-iss

Tweet by Astronaut Terry Virts, who returned to Earth a few days after 200 days on the International Space Station: "It took me until my last day in space to get a good picture of these!"

Read the rest

NASA's new flying saucer-shaped LDSD Mars lander tech completes second test flight

NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator hangs from a launch tower at U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.  NASA/Bill Ingalls


NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator hangs from a launch tower at U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.
NASA/Bill Ingalls

At NASA, engineers are digging into data from their second experimental landing technology test for the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project. The saucer-shaped craft splashed down at 11:49 a.m. HST (5:49 p.m. EDT) Monday in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Read the rest

Watch: Fly over the dwarf planet Ceres in this new NASA video

Here's a newly-released video animation of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, that provides “dramatic flyover views of this heavily cratered, mysterious world.”

Read the rest

NASA releases amazing pics of Ceres

PIA19547_ip

PIA19547_fig1_thumb

From JPL. Those white spots are an intriguing mystery.

Read the rest

Play in the beautiful, terrible natural world

Part art, part science, Nadezda Suvorova's playful works celebrate the weird beauty of our realityRead the rest

Strange reflections on dwarf planet Ceres

Conspiracy theorists are claiming that the two shiny spots on Ceres seen in photos taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft are either ice or salt patches.

Read the rest

3D printing in zero gee mission-patch


[Link]

Why is Arctic ice melting so fast?

sea_ice_fraction_change_and_absorbed_solar_radiation_change

Right now, it's cold in the Arctic. Days are dark, and ice grows to cover the dark sea. Come summer, lengthening days and warming temperatures will reverse that process. This is the ebb and flow of the Arctic, a natural cycle.

However, over the past several decades we have seen summers melt more and more of the ice that forms during the cold winter months. As a result, more and more dark seawater is exposed to the light of day.

NASA researchers, using several instruments on three separate satellites, has been collecting data for 15 years to find out why the ice is melting, and to be able to predict trends in future ice formation and melting. They reported on this data at the 2014 American Geophysical Union annual meeting, saying that 15 years worth is the absolute minimum amount of information needed for them to begin making long-term predictions. Climate trends, as opposed to weather trends, are averaged over 30 years, so they are about halfway there at this point in time.

The project to observe the Arctic is part of NASA's Clouds and the Earths Radiant Energy Systems (CERES) mission. They measure the Earth's reflected solar radiation, emitted thermal infrared radiation, and all emitted and reflected radiation.

The results so far indicate that the Arctic is absorbing energy from the sun five percent faster now during the summer months than it was when they first began monitoring in 2000. This is important because the rest of the Earth is still absorbing energy at pretty much the same rate.

Put into energetic terms, this means each square meter of the Arctic Ocean is absorbing approximately 10 more watts of solar energy than everywhere else. Interestingly, this is not uniform, and is regionally specific. For instance, the Beaufort Sea has been measured at 50 watts per square meter.

All this extra energy has an impact on sea ice melt. The Beaufort Sea is one of the more dramatic ice melt examples. And, the rate of ice loss in September in the Arctic overall is 13 percent per decade. Let me spell that out... the Arctic is absorbing more energy, the air temperature is warming, and the rate of ice melting is being multiplied over ten times each decade.

So, why is this happening? It partially has to do with albedo, or reflectivity. Ice and snow reflect the sun's light and energy, while dark oceans absorb it. Less summer ice means that things are going to warm up faster, creating a feed-forward cycle that will potentially lead to even further warming and melting.

Walt Meier discussed differences in the ice itself that contribute to this process. He said that young ice melts more easily than old ice due to surface features and salinity. This results in much more rapid melting each year, which exposes more old, thicker ice to the suns rays. Each year more old ice is lost only to be replaced during the winter with easily melting young ice. The Arctic has lost 1.4 million square kilometers of ice over the past 15 years.

Young, thin ice makes the Arctic more vulnerable to further summer melting. Further Jennifer Kay, said that cloud cover is not related to the observed absorbed radiation.

 

Go, Orion! NASA set to launch spacecraft on first step toward manned flights to Mars [Update: Delayed! Launched!]

Final preparations are under way for NASA's Dec. 4 launch of the Orion spacecraft. Not since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011 has there been so much excitement around American space flight. Sawyer Rosenstein reports from Cape Canaveral.Read the rest

Orion spacecraft arrives at NASA Kennedy, “First step on journey to Mars”

NASA's first space-bound Orion capsule is seen in silhouette, set against the pad lights at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 37B on Wednesday, Nov. 12. (collectSPACE)


NASA's first space-bound Orion capsule is seen in silhouette, set against the pad lights at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 37B on Wednesday, Nov. 12. (collectSPACE)

The first space-bound Orion capsule has arrived at a NASA Kennedy Space Center launch pad.

Read the rest