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NASA Goddard  The official Instagram account of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Twitter: @NASAGoddard & @NASAGoddardPix

🚀 We’re sending 7,600 pounds of research, supplies and hardware to the crew members living and working on the International Space Station!

NASA’s commercial partner Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. The five-minute Antares launch window opens at 4:46 p.m. EDT today, April 17, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls #nasagoddard #sace #rocket #iss

In this multi-temporal illumination map of the lunar south pole, Shackleton crater (19 km diameter) is in the center, the south pole is located approximately at 9 o'clock on its rim. The map was created from images from the camera aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA is working right now to send American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in five years, and the agency has its sights set on a place no humans have ever gone before: the lunar South Pole.

Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
#moon #lro #nasa #planetary

Globular clusters are inherently beautiful objects, but the subject of this @NASAHubble image, Messier 3, is commonly acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful of them all.

Containing an incredible half-million stars, this 8-billion-year-old cosmic bauble is one of the largest and brightest globular clusters ever discovered. However, what makes Messier 3 extra special is its unusually large population of variable stars — stars that fluctuate in brightness over time. New variable stars continue to be discovered in this sparkling stellar nest to this day, but so far we know of 274, the highest number found in any globular cluster by far. At least 170 of these are of a special variety called RR Lyrae variables, which pulse with a period directly related to their intrinsic brightness. If astronomers know how bright a star truly is based on its mass and classification, and they know how bright it appears to be from our viewpoint here on Earth, they can thus work out its distance from us. For this reason, RR Lyrae stars are known as standard candles — objects of known luminosity whose distance and position can be used to help us understand more about vast celestial distances and the scale of the cosmos.

Messier 3 also contains a relatively high number of so-called blue stragglers, which are shown quite clearly in this Hubble image. These are blue main sequence stars that appear to be young because they are bluer and more luminous than other stars in the cluster. As all stars in globular clusters are believed to have formed together and thus to be roughly the same age, only a difference in mass can give these stars a different color. A red, old star can appear bluer when it acquires more mass, for instance by stripping it from a nearby star. The extra mass changes it into a bluer star, which makes us think it is younger than it really is.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al. #nasagoddard #space #science #galaxy #sky

The @NASAWebb Telescope isn’t covered by a protective tube like @NASAHubble, instead technicians and engineers designed innovative shielding behind the primary mirrors — to keep out excess light.

Image 1: Northrop Grumman blanket technician Ann Meyer and Ball Aerospace optical engineer Larkin Carey inspect the protective barrier behind Webb’s primary mirror. This lightweight blanketing plays an important role on the observatory as it blocks undesirable light from reaching the telescope’s sensitive infrared sensors.

Image 2: To fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that Webb will ride to space, some of its mirrors are designed to fold, and deploy to full size once in orbit. Shown here: technician Ricardo Pantoja performs a routine inspection of NASA Webb’s innovative blanketing along the connection point of its deployable primary mirror segments.
To observe objects in the distant cosmos, and to do science that’s never been done before, the Webb telescope’s scientific instruments need to be cooled down to a temperature so cold, it would freeze the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere solid.

Intentionally chilling the telescope mirrors and instruments with innovative technologies and intelligent spacecraft design allows them to be far more sensitive to faint infrared light. Infrared can be described simply as heat, and if Webb’s components are cool, they are far more capable at observing faint heat signatures from the distant universe.
Image Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn

#jwst #space #telescope #webb

"We've now seen the unseen" — Avery Broderick, University of Waterloo, Event Horizon Telescope researcher

For the first time, a black hole and its shadow have been captured in an image, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope. EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Anything that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon,” its point of no return, will be consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravity. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, but the hot disk of material that encircles it shines brightly. Against a bright backdrop, such as this disk, a black hole appears to cast a shadow.

The stunning new image shows the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet.
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al. #blackhole #EHTBlackHole #nsf #science #space

The AZURE rockets had a colorful April 5 flight! 🚀🎨
1️⃣ During their flight over Norway, these two sounding rockets deployed gas tracers — made of substances similar to those in fireworks — to create colorful clouds that allow researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles with the auroral wind. This helps scientists better understand the exchange of energy within an aurora.

2️⃣ One of the two Black Brant XI rockets leaves the launch pad at the Andøya Space Center in Norway.

3️⃣ An aurora is seen dancing across the night sky prior to the launch of AZURE rockets at the Andøya Space Center in Norway.

AZURE is one of nine missions launching as part of the Grand Challenge Initiative — Cusp, a series of international sounding rocket missions to study Earth’s geomagnetic cusp between 2018 and 2020. The cusp is one of the few places on Earth where particles from the solar wind have easy access to our atmosphere.

Image credits: NASA/Lee Wingfield #nasa #nasagoddard #space #science #rockets #aurora

Star clusters are commonly featured in cosmic photoshoots, and are also well-loved by the keen eye of @NASAHubble. These large gatherings of celestial gems are striking sights — and Messier 2 is certainly no exception.

Messier 2 is located in the constellation of Aquarius (the Water Bearer), about 55,000 light-years away. It is a globular cluster: a spherical group of stars all tightly bound together by gravity. With a diameter of roughly 175 light-years, a population of 150,000 stars, and an age of 13 billion years, Messier 2 is one of the largest clusters of its kind and one of the oldest associated with the Milky Way.

This Hubble image of Messier 2’s core was created using visible and infrared light. Most of the cluster’s mass is concentrated at its center, with shimmering streams of stars extending outward into space. It is bright enough that it can even be seen with the naked eye when observing conditions are extremely good.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al. #nasagoddard #science #space

This three-dimensional view of asteroid Bennu was created by the @osiris_rex Laser Altimeter (OLA), contributed by the @canadianspaceagency , on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from Feb. 12 through 17.
OLA obtained these measurements by firing laser pulses at Bennu and measuring the amount of time it takes for the light to bounce off the asteroid’s surface and return to the instrument. Using this data, the OLA team created the 3-D model of Bennu’s surface.
Credit: NASA/University of Arizona/CSA/York/MDA

For 10 years, NASA’s Operation #IceBridge has flown in the Arctic to monitor ice change. As they kick off another campaign this week, take a look back at what IceBridge has seen:
Oct. 2018: The airborne survey spotted this tabular iceberg floating among sea ice just off of the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula.
Photo credit: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck
March 2017: This image shows the heart-shaped calving front of a glacier in northwest Greenland.Image Credit: NASA/Maria-Jose Viñas
Sept. 2016: A photo of Greenland's Steenstrup Glacier, with the midmorning sun glinting off of the Denmark Strait in the background. Image Credit: NASA/John Sonntag
May 2014: The bulging sea ice in the foreground of this image is a pressure ridge, which formed when separate ice floes collided and piled up on each other. Image Credit: Michael Studinger

How many cosmic ducks do you see in this open star cluster known as the Wild Duck Cluster? 🦆👀🦆 This star-studded image from @NASAHubble shows us a portion of Messier 11, an open star cluster in the southern constellation of Scutum (the Shield). Messier 11 is also known as the Wild Duck Cluster, as its brightest stars form a “V” shape that somewhat resembles a flock of ducks in flight.

Messier 11 is one of the richest and most compact open clusters currently known. By investigating the brightest, hottest main sequence stars in the cluster, astronomers estimate that it formed roughly 220 million years ago. Open clusters tend to contain fewer and younger stars than their more compact globular cousins, and Messier 11 is no exception: at its center lie many blue stars, the hottest and youngest of the cluster’s few thousand stellar residents.

The lifespans of open clusters are also relatively short compared to those of globular ones; stars in open clusters are spread farther apart and are thus not as strongly bound to each other by gravity, causing them to be more easily and quickly drawn away by stronger gravitational forces. As a result, Messier 11 is likely to disperse in a few million years as its members are ejected one by one, pulled away by other celestial objects in the vicinity.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Dobbie et al. #nasagoddard #space #hubble #duck #galaxy

Hubble watches a spun-up asteroid coming apart! 💥💨☄️ A small asteroid has been caught in the process of spinning so fast it’s throwing off material, according to new data from @NASAHubble and other observatories.

Images from Hubble show two narrow, comet-like tails of dusty debris streaming from the asteroid Gault. Each tail represents an episode in which the asteroid gently shed its material — key evidence that Gault is beginning to come apart.

Piecing together Gault’s recent activity is an astronomical forensics investigation involving telescopes and astronomers around the world. All-sky surveys, ground-based telescopes, and space-based facilities like the Hubble Space Telescope pooled their efforts to make this discovery possible. Read more:

Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Meech and J. Kleyna (University of Hawaii), and O. Hainaut (European Southern Observatory) #nasagoddard #space #science

NASA just announced the plan for our astronauts to return to the surface of the Moon by the year 2024. And this time we’re visiting new territory – the South Pole.

Here are five ways NASA Goddard science is already supporting the #Moon2Mars initiative: 🌑 Images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera, as well as the data from other instruments aboard the spacecraft, provide scientists and engineers the means to study the lunar surface at high-resolution so that future missions can take advantage of the truly rich geology of the Moon. ☀️ To understand this complex environment, heliophysics has placed critical, well-thought-out missions to observe and understand the flow of energy and particles throughout space, from Parker Solar Probe studying the source of the solar wind at the Sun to Voyager exploring interstellar space. 🛰️ In 2005, NASA used the Hubble Space Telescope to search for important resources that may be essential for sustained human presence on the Moon. Hubble’s ability to “see” ultraviolet light allowed the telescope to search for oxygen-bearing minerals at several lunar sites, including the Apollo 17 landing region. 🌧️ The James Webb Space Telescope will observe the full disk of Mars to study processes that cover the global Martian atmosphere and its changes. Webb will be able to study global dust storms and water ice variability on Mars. 🌎 A number of locations on Earth with extreme conditions, like the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, Kilauea Crater in Hawaii and the Atacama Desert in Chile, are analogs to current or ancient conditions on Mars. NASA scientists visit these locations to test instruments and drills for future missions to Mars, and to better understand if and how life could have once emerged on the Red Planet. 🚀 Read more:

#nasagoddard #moon2mars #space #science

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