NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made over one million observations during its more than two decades in orbit. New images are published nearly every week, but hidden in Hubble’s huge data archives are some truly breathtaking images that have never been seen. They’re called Hubble’s Hidden Treasures, and you can now help to bring them to light.
Between now and May 31, 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) invites you to explore Hubble’s vast science archive to dig out the best unseen Hubble images. Find a great dataset in the Hubble Legacy Archive (HLA), adjust the contrast and colors, and submit to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group. You’ll be in with a chance to win an iPad among other great prizes.
NASA successfully launched five suborbital sounding rockets this morning from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream, the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment or ATREX.
The first rocket was launched at 4:58 a.m. EDT and each subsequent rocket was launched 80 seconds apart. Each rocket released a chemical tracer that created milky, white clouds at the edge of space. The launches and clouds were reported to be seen from as far south as Wilmington, N.C.; west to Charlestown, W. Va.; and north to Buffalo, N.Y.
Tracking the way the clouds move can help scientists understand the movement of the winds some 65 miles up in the sky, which in turn will help create better models of the electromagnetic regions of space that can damage man-made satellites and disrupt communications systems.
ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans. The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization. The dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry.
French photographer Serge Brunier — one of ESO’s Photo Ambassadors — has created this seamless 360-degree panorama of the Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert, where the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is under construction.
The 360-degree view gives a sense of what it would be like to stand in the middle of this impressive new observatory. It demonstrates the complete isolation of the Chajnantor plateau; at an altitude of 5000 metres, the backdrop is almost featureless, except for a few mountain peaks and hilltops.
The high altitude location is perfect for submillimetre astronomy. That’s because water vapour in the atmosphere absorbs this type of radiation, but the air is much drier at high altitude sites such as Chajnantor.
James Cameron Completes Record-Breaking Mariana Trench Dive
Explorer and filmmaker James Cameron reached the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean at 7:52 am Monday local time (2152 GMT Sunday) in his specially designed submersible. He is the first person to dive there solo and reach a depth of 35,756 feet (10,898 meters), since it was initially explored in 1960.
The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, the submersible which Cameron helped design, is a “vertical torpedo” of sorts which already successfully completed an unpiloted dive on Friday. Cameron planned to spend up to six hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking still photographs and moving images.
His goal was to become the first human to visit the ocean’s deepest point in more than 50 years, and to bring back data and specimens. He was expected to take 3D images that could help scientists better understand the unexplored part of the earth.
Cameron described his journey to the bottom of the Marianas Trench — nearly 7 miles down in a dark freezing and alien place: he says the last frontier on Earth looks an awful lot like another planet: desolate and foreboding.
Cameron says he worried about being too busy with exploration duties to take in just how amazing this place was. That happened to Apollo astronauts. So he says he took time to stare at the moon-like barren surface and to appreciate how alien it is. [Watch video]
A flurry of solar activity in early March dumped enough heat in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years. The heat has since dissipated, but there’s more to come as the solar cycle intensifies.
Giant Telescope’s Construction Starts with a Bang… Literally
The birth of a giant new telescope began with a big bang this Friday, March 23. The explosion detonated just before 12 p.m. EDT in order to level the mountaintop for the future Giant Magellan Telescope, a huge 24.5-meter observatory that promises to outdo the Hubble Space Telescope several times over. The blast was broadcast live on the Internet by the U.S. Embassy in Chile and via Ustream.
The new telescope’s location at an altitude of 8,500 feet (2,550 meters) up in Chile’s Atacama Desert is also an optimum base for deep-sky surveys. The region can have dark, clear skies 300 nights a year and is currently home to many telescopes operated by the European Southern Observatory.
The Giant Magellan Telescope is one of several huge ground-based telescopes currently under way at various locations around the world. The project aims to build a $700 million telescope made up of six circular mirrors, each 8.4 meters across, which can be adjusted to eliminate the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere. [View animation]
The telescope is being built by 10 different university and organizations spread across Australia, South Korea and the United States. It is expected to be completed in 2018.
International Space Station Expedition 30 astronaut Don Pettit demonstrates physics in space for ‘Science off the Sphere.’ Through a partnership between NASA and the American Physical Society you can participate in Pettit’s physics challenge and view future experiments here: http://www.physicscentral.com/sots
Researchers capture first-ever images of atoms moving in a molecule
Researchers at Ohio State University and Kansas State University have captured the first-ever images of atoms moving in a molecule. Shown here is molecular nitrogen. The researchers used an ultrafast laser to knock one electron from the molecule, and recorded the diffraction pattern that was created when the electron scattered off the molecule.
The image highlights any changes the molecule went through during the time between laser pulses: one quadrillionth of a second. The constituent atoms’ movement is shown as a measure of increasing angular momentum, on a scale from dark blue to pink, with pink showing the region of greatest momentum.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected the solid form of buckyballs in space for the first time. To form a solid particle, the buckyballs must stack together, as illustrated in this artist’s concept showing the very beginnings of the process.
The buckyball particles were spotted around a small, hot star — a member of a pair of stars, called XX Ophiuchi, located 6,500 light-years from Earth. The discovery implies that the little carbon spheres are prevalent in certain stellar regions of the cosmos. Unlike a gas, a solid is more dense, requiring large quantities of molecules to form.
The infrared observatory first detected buckyballs as a gas in 2010, the first time the material was ever definitively observed in space. Buckyballs are made up of 60 carbon atoms arranged as hollow spheres that resemble soccer balls. They also look like the geodesic domes of the late architect Buckminster Fuller, hence their name.
This view shows the thin crescent Moon setting over ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. As well as the bright crescent the rest of the disc of the Moon can be faintly seen. This phenomenon is called earthshine. It is due to sunlight reflecting off the Earth and illuminating the lunar surface. By observing earthshine astronomers can study the properties of light reflected from Earth as if it were an exoplanet and search for signs of life.
The dynamism of ESO’s Very Large Telescope in operation is wonderfully encapsulated in this unusual photograph, taken just after sunset at the moment Unit Telescope 1 starts work. An extended exposure time of 26 seconds has allowed to record the movement of the dome, looking out through the opening from within, as the system swings into action. The rotating walls of the dome look like an ethereal swirl through which a slice of the Atacama Desert can be glimpsed, while the crisp dusk sky provides a splash of cool blue.