3D Atlas of the Universe

A TED Talk. It isn’t  the solstice video I was intending to put up, but I liked it better.

Yes it’s a solstice day!

The December solstice is here. The solstice occurs in a few hours at 23:03 UTC. The calendar day would be 21 or 22 December depending on your location.

For me, it is the shortest day of the year and after a short pause the day’s  light will slowly lengthen.  The road to spring is long and as a well known old-time weather man around here used to say: “As the days grow longer the cold grows stronger”.

My favorite site for solstice information can be found at timeanddate.com.

Video

Warm Gas Halting Star Formation

Galactic interactions shutting down star formation. Image Credit: NASA/CFHT/NRAO/JPL-Caltech/Duc/Cuillandre

Galactic interactions shutting down star formation. Image Credit: NASA/CFHT/NRAO/JPL-Caltech/Duc/Cuillandre

I wouldn’t have thought warm gas would be like putting water on a fire:

From IPAC

A new feature in the evolution of galaxies has been captured in this image of galactic interactions. The two galaxies seen here — NGC 3226 at the top, NGC 3227 at the bottom — are awash in the remains of a departed third galaxy, cannibalized by the gravity of the surviving galaxies. The surge of warm gas flowing into NGC 3226, seen as a blue filament, appears to be shutting down this galaxy’s star formation, disrupting the cool gas needed to make fresh stars.
The findings come courtesy of the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory, in which NASA played a key role, and NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes.

Adding material to galaxies often rejuvenates them, triggering new rounds of star birth as gas and dust gel together. Yet data from the three telescopes all indicate that NGC 3226 has a very low rate of star formation.
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Martian Lakebed?

Sedimentary signs of a Martian Lake bed viewed by the Mars Science Rover, Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Sedimentary signs of a Martian Lake bed viewed by the Mars Science Rover, Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NOW I am a believer. Ok, so I was before, but this is so cool!

The only problem now is just a zillion more new and old questions, for example: How much, when, where did it go, how long was it there where did it go etc.

And the big one of course: was there life associated with the water and all the rest.

Here is the caption from NASA for the image:

This evenly layered rock photographed by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover shows a pattern typical of a lake-floor sedimentary deposit not far from where flowing water entered a lake.
The scene combines multiple frames taken with Mastcam’s right-eye camera on Aug. 7, 2014, during the 712th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars. It shows an outcrop at the edge of “Hidden Valley,” seen from the valley floor. This view spans about 5 feet (1.5 meters) across in the foreground. The color has been approximately white-balanced to resemble how the scene would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth. Figure A is a version with a superimposed scale bar of 50 centimeters (about 20 inches).
This is an example of a thick-laminated, evenly-stratified rock type that forms stratigraphically beneath cross-bedded sandstones regarded as ancient river deposits. These rocks are interpreted to record sedimentation in a lake, as part of or in front of a delta, where plumes of river sediment settled out of the water column and onto the lake floor.

What a Day!

 ROLIS descent image of Comet 67P/C-G. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR


ROLIS descent image of Comet 67P/C-G. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

As the Philae lander approached comet 67P/G-C it used the ROLIS instrument to take this image at 14:38:41 UT from just 3 km / 1.9 miles above the surface.

The ROLIS instrument looks downward during descent and gets close up views after landing so texture and microsturcture of surface materials.

Yes, that is part of the lander you see in the upper right.

ROLIS (ROsetta Lander Imaging System) is a descent and close-up camera on the Philae Lander. It has been developed by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin.

I had to include the image below, I think it’s just excellent. We are looking at the Philae lander shortly after being released from the mother ship (Rosetta) after a 10 year trip together on this totally amazing mission.

Good luck Philae. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Good luck Philae. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

No word yet on what is going on with the harpoons (anchors), but ESA did mention “Maybe today we didn’t just land once…we even landed twice!”

There will be plenty more images here, but check out the Rosetta Blog.

ESA Rosetta Mission on Twitter

Congratulations ESA !

I bet the smiles are abundant and they should be. :mrgreen:

Good Luck Philae!

GOOD LUCK!  I can hardly believe the day has finally come – it’s been a long time!

Update:  Landing confirmed.  Harpoons did not fire, investigation in progress.  The one way radio travel time is a bit over 28 minutes – each way.

ESA is reporting all is well with Philae is in good shape despite the harpoons.

If you see no video above it is because ESA isn’t broadcasting at the time.

Check out the Rosetta Blog and for last second updates.

@ESA_Rosetta   http://www.twitter.com/esa_rosetta

After The Landing

Philae timeline.  Click for a more readable version. Credit: ESA

Philae timeline. Click for a more readable version. Credit: ESA

The big day is almost here. What will happen once Philae lands on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko?

This from ESA:

A timeline of the science operations that Rosetta’s lander Philae will perform during the first 2.5 days on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

It does not include the experiments conducted during the seven-hour descent or immediately upon touchdown and in the 40 minutes after as the separation, descent and landing operations and experiments conclude (see this graphic for a summary of those activities).

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Two Days Away

Rosetta's NAVCAM image just 31.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 4 November 2014 ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Rosetta’s NAVCAM image just 31.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 4 November 2014 ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

An image  on 04 November shows some activity in the way of the jets emanating from the central region of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve developed quite an interest in what the cometary “soil” is like and how it got to be the way it is.  Happily we could get more clues just watching the Philae lander land on Wednesday. If the composition is very fine we could see quite a cloud kicked up relative to how much is at the landing site of course.

If you would like the four individual panels making up this image you can get them at Comet Watch

 

Dione – A Global View

dionemap

NASA has produced global mosaics of Saturn’s moon Dione from Cassini spacecraft images. The image here is a trailing hemisphere which is darker than the leading hemisphere possibly because to “alteration by magnetospheric particles and radiation striking those surfaces”. It is also thought the leading hemisphere “is coated with icy dust from Saturn’s E-ring, formed from tiny particles ejected from Enceladus’ south pole. These satellites are all being painted by material erupted by neighboring Enceladus”.

The image is best enjoyed by looking at the high resolution verions at NASA’s Photojournal site you can see down to 250 meters per pixel – amazing!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Lunar and Planetary Institute

New Record Jump

Google Executive Alan Eustace left an abandoned airport in New Mexico in a helium-filled balloon. He later jumped from the balloon at 41.42 km / 135,908 feet.

Eustace reached speeds of 822 mph.

Only two-years ago Felix Baumgartner jumped from 39 km / 128,000 feet to set the record. Will he respond? I hope so!