Thursday, December 29, 2011

NASA's Best Pictures of 2011, Photo's. Video

NASA's Best Photo's of 2011

Cosmic Ornament

With the holiday season in full swing, a new image from an assembly of telescopes reveals a pulsar that appears like a spinning cosmic ornament. Combined data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton were used in the discovery of a young pulsar in the remains of a supernova located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, or SMC. This is the first time a pulsar, which is a spinning, ultra-dense star, has been found in a supernova remnant 

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy as seen by the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) on Hinode as it approached the sun early on 16 December 2011. Hinode purposely adjusted its instruments during this time period to observer the side of the sun and track the comet. Scientists were rewarded with two images, taken 30 seconds apart before Comet Lovejoy vanished into the glare of scattered light from the sun. Using these images, scientists believe the coma -- the visible cloud of ice and dust surrounding the comet -- is about 450 miles across. Since the comet is so much fainter than the sun, the SOT's original image showed a saturated, over bright sun next to the comet; this image has been processed with a replacement, less bright image of the sun that was captured simultaneously. 

Credit: JAXA/Hinode/LMSAL

High Resolution Map of the Far Side of the Moon

A team of scientists at Arizona State University in Tempe has used a wide-angle camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create what the space agency says is "the highest-resolution near-global topographic map of the moon ever created." And the results are absolutely stunning. 

Best Seat in the Cupola

NASA astronaut Mike Fossum gazes through a window in the International Space Station's "cupola"—an observation module—in September. Earth's horizon interrupts the blackness of space at the top of the frame. Credit NASA

Saturn's Northern Storm

The image was taken on Jan. 12, 2011, over about one hour at a distance of approximately 684,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 52 degrees. The image was re-projected to the same viewing geometry, so that scale in this final mosaic is 76 miles (122 kilometers) per pixel.  

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute 

Orion Drop Test, Deep Space Water Landing?

The amazing thing is not necessarily the photo itself but the fact that NASA has invested so much time, effort and money in deep space water landings. To date we only have speculation that water is in the universe and even then it is in a frozen form. Engineers at NASA Langley conducted the third drop test of the Orion test article as part of Phase 1 water impact testing on Nov. 8. The capsule was hoisted about 20 feet above the ground with a pitch of 17 degrees. It reached a horizontal velocity of about 22 mph before splashing into the Hydro Impact Basin (see video). Test conditions represented stable seas. Image Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

NPP Launch Arc

The On Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, an arc of light illuminates the pre-dawn sky at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as a Delta II rocket launches with the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft payload. NPP carries five science instruments, including four new state-of-the-art sensors, which will provide critical data to help scientists understand the dynamics of long-term climate patterns and help meteorologists improve short-term weather forecasts. 

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls  

Reflections and Final Lift Off

This image of space shuttle Atlantis was taken shortly after the rotating service structure was rolled back at Launch Pad 39A, Thursday, July 7, 2011. Atlantis  lifted-off, Friday, July 8, on the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. 

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A Flame

Fire acts differently in space than on Earth. Sandra Olson, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center, demonstrates just how differently. Each image is of flame spread over cellulose paper in a spacecraft ventilation flow in microgravity. The different colors represent different chemical reactions within the flame. The blue areas are caused by chemiluminescence (light produced by a chemical reaction.) The white, yellow and orange regions are due to glowing soot within the flame zone.This image won first place in the 2011 Combustion Art Competition,Image 

Credit: NASA

Solar Loop

When a loop of plasma erupted from the sun in March, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft was there to capture the action.Known as a prominence, the escaping cloud of charged gas is pictured tethered to the sun at two ends by magnetic forces, but it eventually became unstable and broke free, twisting away into space. 


Hubble 20th Anniversary Photo

Image credit; NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI) Published December 1, 2011

The Osprey Has Landed

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an adult osprey guards its young in a nest built on a platform in the Press Site parking lot. In the background is the 12,300-square-foot NASA logo painted on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB and Press Site are located at the Turn Basin in Launch Complex 39, making it an ideal osprey nesting place. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge overlaps with Kennedy Space Center property and provides a habitat for many types of wildlife, including the osprey, and 330 species of birds. For information on the refuge, visit

Image Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

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