Kepler Space Telescope Watches Stellar Dancers in the Pleiades Cluster

This image shows the famous Pleiades cluster of stars as seen through the eyes of WISE, or NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Here's a wonderful feature about my favorite constellation and the galaxy's most awesome telescope (at least one of them!) from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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NASA publishes 44,000 Mars surface images


The HiRise imager in orbit around Mars shoots a continuous stream of data about its surface our way. Nasa's posted 44,000 images so far, each available in all sorts of formats and projections. You could have one a day as your desktop background and never run out.

Gullies in Dunes Dubbed Kolhar.

Yardangs South of Olympus Mons

Crater-Exposed Rocks of Yalgoo Crater in Isidis Basin Read the rest

NASA’s High Dynamic Range Stereo X camera captures rocket test in breathtaking detail

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This is cool as hell. “While thousands turned out to watch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) recently complete a full-scale test of its booster, few were aware of the other major test occurring simultaneously.” NASA’s High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera project captured the test like we've never seen before, and recorded propulsion video data in unprecedented detail.

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Why did Iran's Lake Urmia just change from bright green to blood red?

Between April and July, Iran's salty Lake Urmia changed from a bright green color to a blood red. NASA's Aqua satellite captured the image above and reported on the science behind the strange transformation. According to NASA, the periodic color change is caused by micro algae producing carotenoids that help with photosynthesis and act as antioxidants and Halobacteriaceae, a bacteria in very salty water that releases "a red pigment called bacteriorhodopsin that absorbs light and converts it into energy for the bacteria." From NASA:

The color changes have become common in the spring and early summer due to seasonal precipitation and climate patterns. Spring is the wettest season in northwestern Iran, with rainfall usually peaking in April. Snow on nearby mountains within the watershed also melts in the spring. The combination of rain and snowmelt sends a surge of fresh water into Lake Urmia in April and May. By July, the influx of fresh water has tapered off and lake levels begin to drop.

The fresh water in the spring drives salinity levels down, but the lake generally becomes saltier as summer heat and dryness take hold. That’s when the microorganisms show their colors, too. Careful sampling of the water would be required to determine which organisms transformed the lake in 2016, but scientists say there are likely two main groups of organisms involved: a family of algae called Dunaliella and an archaic family of bacteria known as Halobacteriaceae.

While Lake Urmia has shifted from green to red and back several times in recent years, trends suggest that a red Urmia could become increasingly common.

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'NASA: On the Edge of Forever' explores links between Star Trek and the ISS

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NASA released today the first of three videos that will highlight Star Trek and NASA tie-ins, to coincide with the release of Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary.

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Video of one year on Earth, from one million miles away

One million miles from Earth, hanging in space between Earth's gravitational pull and the sun's, is the DSCOVR satellite and NASA's incredible EPIC camera. Every two hours, EPIC takes a photo of Earth "to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth." The above video combines one year of those images.

From the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

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Smithsonian launches online Apollo 11 high-res 3D spacecraft model for moon landing's 47th anniversary

One great way to commemorate the 47th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing, which took place this day in 1969, is to travel to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC (highly recommended!), and see in person the "Columbia" spacecraft that carried astronauts to the moon. But for those of us who can't get to DC and are feeling the O.G. space spirit, starting today you can explore a virtual reality simulation of the capsule's interior, painstakingly digitized by Smithsonian staff.

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Juno probe sends first Jupiter pic back to Earth


Having successfully slipped into orbit around Jupiter, Juno sent its first image back to Earth.

NASA on Tuesday released an image taken by the satellite on Sunday from a distance of 2.7 million miles; it even shows the Great Red Spot, though the famous storm has been shrinking in recent decades and may not be as great as it once was.

“We’re quite pleased that we survived going through Jupiter orbit insertion,” said Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, a scientist at Planetary Science Institute in Tucson who is responsible for the operation of the camera. “The fact it’s a beautiful image is already a good thing.”

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NASA's Juno is about to reach Jupiter after a 5-year journey. I visited JPL before the big show.

Artist concept of Juno near Jupiter. [NASA]
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The cloud-tops of Jupiter


Shot by New Horizons on its way out of town. [NASA, via]

This picture provides a vivid illustration that Jupiter's atmosphere has more color contrast than any other atmosphere in the solar system, including Earth's. Data obtained from these and other New Horizons images taken during the encounter will provide valuable insight into the processes occurring on this gas giant.

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Astronomers discover youngest fully formed exoplanet ever known

Illustration: K2-33b is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and its extended K2 mission, as well as the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, have discovered the youngest fully formed exoplanet ever detected. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.

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'Jupiter: Into the Unknown', a NASA Juno Mission Trailer

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“Get some popcorn. This July 4, we're going to Jupiter.”

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft will brave Jupiter’s fireworks this 4th of July for Science

Artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech
On July 4, NASA plans to fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of Jupiter's cloud tops. It's part of the JUNO mission, and Boing Boing plans to cover the big event live from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory——so, watch this space, because we are fascinated by all things space.

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This small asteroid is Earth's constant cosmic companion

Asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA announced today that a small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around our Sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. And it'll stay that way for centuries to come.

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A First: from space, NASA spots a single methane leak from Earth's atmosphere


“For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface,” NASA announced Tuesday.

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The closest I'll get to Jupiter is this JPL clean room


Hey Jupiter, I hope you're ready for your close-up.

Recently, I was granted the rare privilege of stepping inside one of the largest cleanrooms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I was there to learn about this year's blockbuster space mission, Juno, and chat with some super smart science and engineering people who worked on the project.

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NASA telescopes spot clues for how Giant Black Holes formed so quickly

NASA Illustration of evidence that the direct collapse of a gas cloud produced supermassive black holes in the early Universe.
NASA today announced that astronomers studying data from NASA’s Great Observatories have found the best evidence yet for “cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.”

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