We on the Cassini imaging team deliver to the world this holiday season ... what else! ... the gift of heavenly imagery starring the majestic globe of Saturn and its two most astounding moons, Titan and Enceladus. In this, our 10th Christmas offering from across the hundreds of millions of miles that lie between us and Saturn, you will find some of the most splendid and fascinating sights this historic exploration of the ringed planet has uncovered: the hexagonally-shaped jet stream encircling the pole in Saturn's northern hemisphere, the graceful shadows of its rings arcing across its south, the northern lakes and seas of liquid organics hidden under the hazy atmosphere of Titan, the brilliant ball of glittering ice that is the small active world of Enceladus, and more.
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NASA has issued a new visualization of the events leading to one of the iconic photographs of the 20th Century – Earth rising over the moon captured by the crew of the Apollo 8 mission. The dazzling video was created at Goddard with recent data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and audio records of the 1968 event.
NASA: "Expedition 38 Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins wrapped up a 5-hour, 28-minute spacewalk outside the International Space Station at 12:29 p.m. EST Saturday, completing the first in a series of excursions aimed at replacing a degraded ammonia pump module associated with one of the station's two external cooling loops that keeps both internal and external equipment cool. A second spacewalk to install a replacement pump module, originally planned for Monday, is now scheduled for Tuesday."
[Image: NASA TV] Read the rest
Every new Cecil Castellucci book is cause for celebration around here, and her latest, Tin Star -- the first volume in a new young adult science fiction series -- is no exception. Castellucci's got a gift for characters and dialog (this being part of her success in her extensive work in comics) and a stellar imagination. The story -- researched in part through workshops with NASA for science fiction writers -- is a tale of romance, escape and adventure on a remote space station where the charismatic leader of a colony ship is revealed for a monster.
The first five chapters of Tin Star are a free download (other formats here), so you can make up your own mind. But I know that my copy of Tin Star's going straight into my Christmas holiday reading pile. Read the rest
Jeffrey sez, "360Cities' intrepid member Andrew Bodrov, stitching master of interplanetary awesomeness, has constructed this composite image (i.e. 'fake view') of the Curiosity Rover at night under the Milky Way. You can even see Phobos, Mars' own moon in the night sky."
A little after 8:00 am Eastern Time today, China's Chang'e 3 became the first object to make a soft landing on the surface of the Moon since 1976. That's a shot of the Moon's surface above, taken by the lander after it made touchdown. Emily Lakdawalla has GIFs of the actual landing and continuing coverage. You should also be able to watch some live footage on the Chinese state television streaming website later this afternoon. (Word is that it will pick back up around 4:00 pm Eastern, but Lakdawalla points out that estimated times haven't been precise, so if you're really into seeing the footage live, you should keep checking the site.) NasaSpaceFlight.com has some more technical information about the landing. Read the rest
Norwegian jeweler Miriel Design (AKA Josephine Ryan) has created a bunch of kinetic solar system necklaces, available in her Etsy store. Here's a set of photos of them, and here's her discussion on Reddit. The pieces vary in price, from $380-$500, depending on their complexity, but they're all flat-out gorgeous, and represent a tremendous amount of precision labor. Read the rest
Robert sez, "An Apollo astronaut, looking to keep the 'right stuff' forefront in the public's eye, has recreated his iconic NASA-issued blue flight jacket down to the last button. Al Worden, who in 1971 flew to the moon as the pilot of the Apollo 15 command module Endeavour, wore out his original flight jacket years ago. But working with a space enthusiast out of London, Worden has now reproduced the distinctive NASA outerwear as a museum-quality replica, which is being offered for sale. Read the rest
WASP-19b is an exoplanet whose atmosphere is probably super hot and super poisonous — filled with methane and hydrogen cyanide instead of water. This video explains how astronomers can even begin to guess at the composition of the atmospheres of far away worlds. (Bonus: A soothing elevator music soundtrack!) Read the rest