On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse passed over North America. People throughout the continent captured incredible images of this celestial phenomenon. We and our partner agencies had a unique vantage point on the eclipse from space. Here are a few highlights from our fleet of satellites that observe the Sun, the Moon and Earth.
Our Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the Sun nearly 24/7 from its orbit 3,000 miles above Earth, saw a partial eclipse on Aug. 21.
SDO sees the Moon cross in front of the Sun several times a year. However, these lunar transits don’t usually correspond to an eclipse here on Earth, and an eclipse on the ground doesn’t guarantee that SDO will see anything out of the ordinary. In this case, on Aug. 21, SDO did see the Moon briefly pass in front of the Sun at the same time that the Moon’s shadow passed over the eastern United States. From its view in space, SDO only saw 14 percent of the Sun blocked by the Moon, while most U.S. residents saw 60 percent blockage or more.
Six people saw the eclipse from the International Space Station. Viewing the eclipse from orbit were NASA’s Randy Bresnik, Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, the European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos’ Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy. The space station crossed the path of the eclipse three times as it orbited above the continental United States at an altitude of 250 miles.
From a million miles out in space, our Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, instrument captured 12 natural color images of the Moon’s shadow crossing over North America. EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, where it photographs the full sunlit side of Earth every day, giving it a unique view of the shadow from total solar eclipses. EPIC normally takes about 20 to 22 images of Earth per day, so this animation appears to speed up the progression of the eclipse.
A ground-based image of the total solar eclipse – which looks like a gray ring – is superimposed over a red-toned image of the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. This view of the corona was captured by the European Space Agency and our Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. At center is an orange-toned image of the Sun’s surface as seen by our Solar Dynamics Observatory in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of light.
During a total solar eclipse, ground-based telescopes can observe the lowest part of the solar corona in a way that can’t be done at any other time, as the Sun’s dim corona is normally obscured by the Sun’s bright light. The structure in the ground-based corona image — defined by giant magnetic fields sweeping out from the Sun’s surface — can clearly be seen extending into the outer image from the space-based telescope. The more scientists understand about the lower corona, the more they can understand what causes the constant outward stream of material called the solar wind, as well as occasional giant eruptions called coronal mass ejections.
As millions of Americans watched the total solar eclipse that crossed the continental United States, the international Hinode solar observation satellite captured its own images of the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. The images were taken with Hinode’s X-ray telescope, or XRT, as it flew above the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of the United States, at an altitude of approximately 422 miles. Hinode is a joint endeavor by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the European Space Agency, the United Kingdom Space Agency and NASA.
During the total solar eclipse our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, in orbit around the Moon, turned one of its instruments towards Earth to capture an image of the Moon’s shadow over a large region of the United States.
As LRO crossed the lunar south pole heading north at 3,579 mph, the shadow of the Moon was racing across the United States at 1,500 mph. A few minutes later, LRO began a slow 180-degree turn to look back at Earth, capturing an image of the eclipse very near the location where totality lasted the longest. The spacecraft’s Narrow Angle Camera began scanning Earth at 2:25:30 p.m. EDT and completed the image 18 seconds later.
meeting brent in my data cosplay has been a dream of mine for a few years and now it is a dream come true!!!
more about my experience meeting him under the cut
so first i went up to get his autograph on my star trek jacket and a booth picture since it was early in the day and my photo op wasn’t until 5pm
i walk up and he says i look great and the staff lady who was there with him told him i got a picture and an autograph and he says to me “oh yeah of course, baby” just really casually and i was sweating shduejkgsd
so i asked him to sign the jacket and he sighs and says okay, kinda joking, so i was like sorry you don’t have too! and he just told me he doesn’t mind he just doesn’t want to ruin a sharpie lol so he signs it with a silver sharpie and looks at it for a bit and goes “you know what, i really don’t like how that looks. i’m going to sign it again if you don’t mind?” and of course i’m like “i don’t mind, you can do whatever you want!” lol so he asks me to hold the bottom of the jacket tight so it’s easier for him to sign. so he’s right next to me and im holding out the jacket and our hands are touching and my hand it like against his stomach because there wasn’t a lot of space and idk y’all it was just . .. . amazing .. . he signed it with a black sharpie and goes “yeah that’s much better! look at that, now you get two for the price of one!”
he also joked and asked if i’ve ever washed the jacket, which i mean, he’s got me there, but like it’s not at all dirty. i take good care of that jacket so its not smelly or looks gross or anything. also i’d have to take off like all the pins in order to wash it and i have well over 20 pins on that jacket lmao
we then take our booth picture together and after he asks me how old i was lol and then said it was great to meet me yadda yadda
amazing, dreamy, wonderful!! everything i could’ve hoped for !!!!!! here’s the picture together and of my jacket:
then at the photo op i walked in and he goes “hey lady data!” as i walk up and he wrapped his arm behind me and we took the picture and told me again it was very nice meeting me yadda yadda and i walked out of the tent and took a deep breath and just !!!!!!!!!! freaked out inside!!! he is just so sweet and nice and funny and warm! just a very very good man!!
i will cherish this experience for the rest of my life lol im just so happy :-)))
The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing their more-than-40-year journey since their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the Sun than Pluto.
The primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. After making a string of discoveries there – such as active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and intricacies of Saturn’s rings – the mission was extended.
Voyager 2 went on to explore Uranus and Neptune, and is still the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets. The adventurers’ current mission, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), will explore the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain. And beyond.
‘BUS’ Housing Electronics
The basic structure of the spacecraft is called the “bus,” which carries the various engineering subsystems and scientific instruments. It is like a large ten-sided box. Each of the ten sides of the bus contains a compartment (a bay) that houses various electronic assemblies.
Cosmic Ray Subsystem (CRS)
The Cosmic Ray Subsystem (CRS) looks only for very energetic particles in plasma, and has the highest sensitivity of the three particle detectors on the spacecraft. Very energetic particles can often be found in the intense radiation fields surrounding some planets (like Jupiter). Particles with the highest-known energies come from other stars. The CRS looks for both.
High-Gain Antenna (HGA)
The High-Gain Antenna (HGA) transmits data to Earth on two frequency channels (the downlink). One at about 8.4 gigahertz, is the X-band channel and contains science and engineering data. For comparison, the FM radio band is centered around 100 megahertz.
Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS)
The Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) is a modified version of the slow scan vidicon camera designed that were used in the earlier Mariner flights. The ISS consists of two television-type cameras, each with eight filters in a commandable Filter Wheel mounted in front of the vidicons. One has a low resolution 200 mm wide-angle lens, while the other uses a higher resolution 1500 mm narrow-angle lens.
Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer and Radiometer (IRIS)
The Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer and Radiometer (IRIS) actually acts as three separate instruments. First, it is a very sophisticated thermometer. It can determine the distribution of heat energy a body is emitting, allowing scientists to determine the temperature of that body or substance.
Second, the IRIS is a device that can determine when certain types of elements or compounds are present in an atmosphere or on a surface.
Third, it uses a separate radiometer to measure the total amount of sunlight reflected by a body at ultraviolet, visible and infrared frequencies.
Low-Energy Charged Particles (LECP)
The Low-Energy Charged Particles (LECP) looks for particles of higher energy than the Plasma Science instrument, and it overlaps with the Cosmic Ray Subsystem (CRS). It has the broadest energy range of the three sets of particle sensors.
The LECP can be imagined as a piece of wood, with the particles of interest playing the role of the bullets. The faster a bullet moves, the deeper it will penetrate the wood. Thus, the depth of penetration measures the speed of the particles. The number of “bullet holes” over time indicates how many particles there are in various places in the solar wind, and at the various outer planets. The orientation of the wood indicates the direction from which the particles came.
Although the Magnetometer (MAG) can detect some of the effects of the solar wind on the outer planets and moons, its primary job is to measure changes in the Sun’s magnetic field with distance and time, to determine if each of the outer planets has a magnetic field, and how the moons and rings of the outer planets interact with those magnetic fields.
Optical Calibration Target The target plate is a flat rectangle of known color and brightness, fixed to the spacecraft so the instruments on the movable scan platform (cameras, infrared instrument, etc.) can point to a predictable target for calibration purposes.
Photopolarimeter Subsystem (PPS)
The Photopolarimeter Subsystem (PPS) uses a 0.2 m telescope fitted with filters and polarization analyzers. The experiment is designed to determine the physical properties of particulate matter in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn and the rings of Saturn by measuring the intensity and linear polarization of scattered sunlight at eight wavelengths.
The experiment also provided information on the texture and probable composition of the surfaces of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn.
Planetary Radio Astronomy (PRA) and Plasma Wave Subsystem (PWS)
The Plasma Science (PLS) instrument looks for the lowest-energy particles in plasma. It also has the ability to look for particles moving at particular speeds and, to a limited extent, to determine the direction from which they come.
The Plasma Subsystem studies the properties of very hot ionized gases that exist in interplanetary regions. One plasma detector points in the direction of the Earth and the other points at a right angle to the first.
Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG)
Three RTG units, electrically parallel-connected, are the central power sources for the mission module. The RTGs are mounted in tandem (end-to-end) on a deployable boom. The heat source radioisotopic fuel is Plutonium-238 in the form of the oxide Pu02. In the isotopic decay process, alpha particles are released which bombard the inner surface of the container. The energy released is converted to heat and is the source of heat to the thermoelectric converter.
Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS)
The Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS) is a very specialized type of light meter that is sensitive to ultraviolet light. It determines when certain atoms or ions are present, or when certain physical processes are going on.
The instrument looks for specific colors of ultraviolet light that certain elements and compounds are known to emit.
Learn more about the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft HERE.
Scan - George Harrison in the garden, 1973, from George’s camera
Scanned from Living in the Material World
“He’d garden at night-time until midnight. He’d be out there squinting because he could see, at midnight, the moonlight and the shadows, and that was his way of not seeing the weeds or imperfections that would plague him during the day, so he could imagine what it would look like when it was done. He missed nearly every dinner because he was in the garden. He would be out there from first thing in the morning to the last thing at night.” - Dhani Harrison, Living in the Material World
Honestly, I think I could wait until Wrestlemania 34 if it means Roman vs Cena as long as when we’re least expecting it we hear out of nowhere.
Sierra. Hotel. India. Echo. Lima. Delta. SHIELD!
And then you have the camera facing Roman standing there with a smug look on his face, whilst the cameras are scanning the crowd to find Seth and Dean walking through the Mania crowd. The camera follows them and they’re up on the big screen and the crowd is screaming and chanting YES!YES!YES! The announce team look completely confused because they have no idea what is going on, as it wasn’t planned for Seth and Dean to show up. Seth and Dean hop the barrier and refuse to step foot in the ring. The ref is conflicted over what to do and has to start the match for the show to run through its respective time slot. They don’t even have to interfere in the match, all they have to do is stand there, at the outside of the ring whilst Roman fights Cena.
Then at the end of the match, Seth and Dean walk into the ring and stand side by side with Roman. Roman goes and grabs a microphone for each of them and stands in the middle of the ring above Cena and he brings the mic up. “John.. John..John. Look at what you’ve gotten yourself into.. You’ve thought for the past, 15 years that you owned the WWE, that you were the face of the company. That you were the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. Little did you know Cena, you lost that title 5 years ago, when we stepped into the business. The Shield has ran the WWE since day one! Whether we were together or apart, it was still all about us. It was still about The Shield.” Roman then turns to Seth and pats him on the back.
Seth does his signature smirk,“Now, every single one of youse thought that we’d never reform and youse were right. Because The Shield has never left, when you thought we left, that I betrayed my brothers back in 2014 youse were wrong.”
Dean then starts playing around with his microphone and does his signature mox smirk,“Now, we played you.We played everyone in the crowd, everyone at home and every. single. person. backstage. It was all our plan since day one.”
Seth laughs,“Dean and Roman, they knew that I would “betray” them.“ The crowd then goes dead silent in shock at the confession Seth just made.
Dean taps his fingers against his chest and looks at Seth and then Roman,“Y'know, there’s a reason I’m referred to as the lunatic fringe and the unstable one. There’s a reason why Seth is known as the architect and Roman as the big dog, theres no one in this business like us three,like the shield and we’re lethal when we’re together.”
Seth let’s out his loudest heel laugh, “It was all our plan, where’s the authority now? That’s right. They’ve been gone for a god damn year, because I single handedly destroyed them from the inside out.”
Roman brings the mic back up,“Seth got rid of the authority, I got rid of the undertaker and John Cena, two of the WWE’s biggest ass kissers. All whilst Ambrose here has been bringing in the belts, whose your grand slam champion?That’s right Dean. Whose your longest reigning us champ, oh yeah Ambrose.”
Dean smirks and brings the mic up,“The Shield has never left, whether we were on different shows we still had our plans and would be together, that’s the benefit of having a house in the dessert. And it’s all worked out, you guys love us and wanted us back and what can I say? We’re never leaving.”
Seth smirks and faces the runway whilst leaning up against the ropes,“ We don’t care how long you’ve been in this business, you can try and beat us but you won’t manage. We’ve ran this place since 2012 and we’ll run this place for the rest of its time.” Seth walks back to the centre of the ring and puts out his fist for Dean to shortly follow,Roman brings up his mic one last time before shouting into it,“You better believe that and BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD!” He drops the mic and fistbumps with Ambrose and Rollins all whilst the crowd is going insane over what has just happened.