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Two galaxies in a cosmic dance defy conventions -- 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo, the more diffuse and patchy blue glow covering the right side of the frame is known as NGC 3447B, while the smaller clump to the upper left is NGC 3447A.

Known together as NGC 3447, we’re unsure what each looked like before they began to tear one another apart. So close that they are strongly influenced and distorted by the gravitational forces between them, the galaxies to twist themselves into the unusual and unique shapes seen here. NGC 3447A appears to display the remnants of a central bar structure and some disrupted spiral arms, both properties characteristic of certain spiral galaxies. Some identify NGC 3447B as a former spiral galaxy, while others categorize it as being an irregular galaxy.

Credit: NASA/Hubble #nasagoddard #space #science

Happy World Water Day 💧🌍💧 We're celebrating by sharing our favorite water planet, Earth!

Viewed from space, the most striking feature of our planet is the water. In both liquid and frozen form, it covers 75% of the Earth’s surface. It fills the sky with clouds. Water is practically everywhere on Earth, from inside the rocky crust to inside our cells.

This detailed, photo-like view of Earth is based largely on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. It is one of many images of our watery world featured in a new story examining water in all of its forms and functions. Here is an excerpt: “In all, the Earth’s water content is about 1.39 billion cubic kilometers (331 million cubic miles), with the bulk of it, about 96.5%, being in the global oceans. As for the rest, approximately 1.7% is stored in the polar icecaps, glaciers, and permanent snow, and another 1.7% is stored in groundwater, lakes, rivers, streams, and soil.

Only a thousandth of 1% of the water on Earth exists as water vapor in the atmosphere. Despite its small amount, this water vapor has a huge influence on the planet. Water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas, and it is a major driver of the Earth’s weather and climate as it travels around the globe, transporting heat with it.

For human needs, the amount of freshwater for drinking and agriculture is particularly important. Freshwater exists in lakes, rivers, groundwater, and frozen as snow and ice. Estimates of groundwater are particularly difficult to make, and they vary widely. Groundwater may constitute anywhere from approximately 22 to 30% of fresh water, with ice accounting for most of the remaining 78 to 70%.” NASA image by Robert Simmon and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, based on MODIS data.

Instrument: Terra - MODIS via @NASAEarth #nasagoddard #earth #worldwaterday #science #space

Alien crop circle? No, that’s just NASA’s newest balloon launch pad -- Aviators, skydivers and other altitude-seeking enthusiasts flying out of Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, are double taking at a new topographical feature reminiscent of an alien crop circle.

Rest assured, the nearly 2,000-foot (600-meter) diameter circle with a pie-shaped wedge on one side and spokes on the other is no extraterrestrial footprint and it’s definitely no hoax. It’s NASA’s newest launch pad for launching the agency’s most advanced high-altitude, heavy-lift scientific balloon: the super pressure balloon.

The four spokes emanating from the center and toward the west, each nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) long, align with magnetic compass directions at 240, 260, 290 and 320 degrees. On launch day, balloon flight experts from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility will assess meteorological data and determine if the conditions are suitable to support a launch opportunity.
The new pad is the first major project in developing a long-term super pressure balloon launch site in #Wanaka . Earlier in 2017, NASA signed a 10-year lease with the Queenstown Airport Corporation to conduct balloon operations from a newly acquired piece of land adjacent to the Wanaka Airport.

Credit: NASA/Dave Webb #nasagoddard #Balloon #CropCircle #science #newzealand

Hubble's Glittering Frisbee Galaxy
This image from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) shows a section of NGC 1448, a spiral galaxy located about 50 million light-years from Earth in the little-known constellation of Horologium (The Pendulum Clock). We tend to think of spiral galaxies as massive and roughly circular celestial bodies, so this glittering oval does not immediately appear to fit the visual bill. What’s going on?

Imagine a spiral galaxy as a circular frisbee spinning gently in space. When we see it face on, our observations reveal a spectacular amount of detail and structure — a great example from Hubble is the telescope’s view of Messier 51, otherwise known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. However, the NGC 1448 frisbee is very nearly edge-on with respect to Earth, giving it an appearance that is more oval than circular. The spiral arms, which curve out from NGC 1448’s dense core, can just about be seen.

Although spiral galaxies might appear static with their picturesque shapes frozen in space, this is very far from the truth. The stars in these dramatic spiral configurations are constantly moving as they orbit around the galaxy’s core, with those on the inside making the orbit faster than those sitting further out.

This makes the formation and continued existence of a spiral galaxy’s arms something of a cosmic puzzle, because the arms wrapped around the spinning core should become wound tighter and tighter as time goes on — but this is not what we see. This is known as the winding problem.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA #nasagoddard #space #science #Hubble #star

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers find the final piece of a celestial puzzle by nabbing a third runaway star -- As British royal families fought the War of the Roses in the 1400s for control of England's throne, a grouping of stars was waging its own contentious skirmish — a star war far away in the Orion Nebula.

The stars were battling each other in a gravitational tussle, which ended with the system breaking apart and at least three stars being ejected in different directions. The speedy, wayward stars went unnoticed for hundreds of years until, over the past few decades, two of them were spotted in infrared and radio observations, which could penetrate the thick dust in the Orion Nebula.

Read more:

Credits: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levy (STScI) #nasagoddard #space #science #hubble #star #stars

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Enjoy this rare cloud-free, strikingly green and beautiful view of Ireland!

It is easy to see from this true-color image why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. Intense green vegetation, primarily grassland, covers most of the country except for the exposed rock on mountaintops. Ireland owes its greenness to moderate temperatures and moist air. The Atlantic Ocean, particularly the warm currents in the North Atlantic Drift, gives the country a more temperate climate than most others at the same latitude.

Moist ocean air also contributes to abundant rainfall. Ireland receives between 750 and 2000 millimeters (29 and 78 inches) of rain per year, with more rain falling in the west and in the mountains. Most of the rain falls in light showers.

This moist climate means plenty of clouds and fog. According to the Irish Meteorological Service, the sky is entirely cloudy more than 50 percent of the time. There are more clouds during the day than at night, and fog is common.

The cloud-free view shown here is extremely rare. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured the image on October 11, 2010, a time of year when Irish weather alternates between rainstorms from the west and cool, dry weather brought by high-pressure systems known as anticyclones.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek. #nasagoddard #science #earth #StPatricksDay #happystpatricksday

What happens when the lights are turned out in the enormous clean room that currently houses NASA's James Webb Space Telescope?
The technicians who are inspecting the telescope and its expansive golden mirrors look like ghostly wraiths in this image as they conduct a "lights out inspection" in the Spacecraft Systems Development and Integration Facility (SSDIF) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The clean room lights were turned off to inspect the telescope after it experienced vibration and acoustic testing. The contamination control engineer used a bright flashlight and special ultraviolet flashlights to inspect for contamination because it's easier to find in the dark.

NASA photographer Chris Gunn said "The people have a ghostly appearance because it's a long exposure." He left the camera's shutter open for a longer than normal time so the movement of the technicians appear as a blur. He also used a special light "painting" technique to light up the primary mirror.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

For more information about the Webb telescope visit: or

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn #nasagoddard #science #space #jwst

Satellites see major winter storm marching toward the U.S. East Coast

NASA and NOAA satellites are providing various views of the major winter storm marching toward the U.S. East coast on March 13. The storm is forecast to merge with another system and is expected to bring large snowfall totals from the Mid-Atlantic to New England.
NASA's Aqua satellite gathered infrared data from the storm system and the area ahead of the storm for cloud and ground temperatures. NOAA's GOES-East satellite provided visible and infrared imagery that showed the extent and the movement of the system.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center (WPC) noted that the low pressure system crossing the Midwest states and Ohio Valley is expected to merge with another low off the southeast U.S. coast. WPC stated "This will allow for a strong nor'easter to develop near the coast and cause a late-season snowstorm from the central Appalachians to New England, including many of the big cities in the Northeast U.S." Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project #nasagoddard #snow #winter #science #earth

NASA’s Aerial Survey of Polar Ice Expands Its Arctic Reach

For the past eight years, Operation IceBridge, a NASA mission that conducts aerial surveys of polar ice, has produced unprecedented three-dimensional views of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, providing scientists with valuable data on how polar ice is changing in a warming world. Now, for the first time, the campaign will expand its reach to explore the Arctic’s Eurasian Basin through two research flights based out of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the northern Atlantic Ocean. More:

Credits: NASA/Nathan Kurtz #science #nasagoddar #snow #ice

This beautiful Hubble image reveals a young super star cluster known as Westerlund 1, only 15,000 light-years away in our Milky Way neighborhood, yet home to one of the largest stars ever discovered.

Stars are classified according to their spectral type, surface temperature, and luminosity. While studying and classifying the cluster’s constituent stars, astronomers discovered that Westerlund 1 is home to an enormous star. Originally named Westerlund 1-26, this monster star is a red supergiant (although sometimes classified as a hypergiant) with a radius over 1,500 times that of our sun. If Westerlund 1-26 were placed where our sun is in our solar system, it would extend out beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

Most of Westerlund 1’s stars are thought to have formed in the same burst of activity, meaning that they have similar ages and compositions. The cluster is relatively young in astronomical terms —at around three million years old it is a baby compared to our own sun, which is some 4.6 billion years old.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA #nasagoddard #Hubble #space #science #star #MilkyWay

NASA missions studies magnetic space explosions

Every day, invisible magnetic explosions are happening around Earth, on the surface of the sun and across the universe. These explosions, known as magnetic reconnection, occur when magnetic field lines cross, releasing stored magnetic energy. Such explosions are a key way that clouds of charged particles — plasmas — are accelerated throughout the universe. In Earth’s magnetosphere — the giant magnetic bubble surrounding our planet — these magnetic reconnections can fling charged particles toward Earth, triggering auroras. Read more:

Video caption - In this simulation, a reconnection even pushes a blob of plasma toward Earth. The jet blown in the opposite direction wobbles due to the unstable conditions.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Yi-Hsin Liu/Joy Ng, producer

#nasagoddard #sun #space #science

Raven Captures its First Picture

The first image is back from NASA’s new spacecraft autopilot system - Raven. This monochromatic image is of the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa and was taken by Raven’s camera, part of its technology-filled module that’s currently aboard the International Space Station. Raven is bringing us one step closer to having a relative navigation capability that can be taking 'off the shelf’ and used with minimum modifications to many missions for decades to come.
Credit: NASA #NASAtech #NoFilter #ThatsSoRaven #nasagoddard #Earth

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