Observatory, Mountains, Universe : The awesomeness in this image comes in layers. The closest layer, in the foreground, contains the Peak Terskol Observatory located in the northern Caucasus Mountains of Russia. The white dome over the 2-meter telescope is clearly visible. The observatory is located on a shoulder of Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, with other peaks visible in a nearby background layer. Clouds are visible both in front of and behind the mountain peaks. The featured three-image composite panorama was taken in 2014 August. Far in the distance is the most distant layer: the stars and nebulas of the night sky, with the central band of the Milky Way rising on the image right. via NASA

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The launch of Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, October 11, 1968.

A C-135 aircraft, flying at more than 35,000 feet, photographed the launch of the Apollo 7 space vehicle. The image, taken from the ocean side and at such a high altitude, gave the appearance that the launch was from beside the VAB.

Photo: NASA

Light from Cygnus A: Celebrating astronomy in this International Year of Light, the detailed image reveals spectacular active galaxy Cygnus A in light across the electromagnetic spectrum. Incorporating X-ray data extends to either side along the same axis for nearly 300,000 light-years powered by jets of relativistic particles emanating from the galaxys central supermassive black hole. Hot spots likely mark the ends of the jets impacting surrounding cool, dense material. Confined to yellow hues, optical wavelength data of the galaxy from Hubble and the surrounding field in the Digital Sky Survey complete a remarkable multiwavelength view. via NASA

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Hubble Mystic Mountain

This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope photograph, which is stranger than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a pillar of gas and dust, three light-years high, which is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.

This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. The image marks the 20th anniversary of Hubble’s launch and deployment into Earth orbit.

Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of hot ionised gas can be seen flowing off the ridges of the structure, and wispy veils of dust, illuminated by starlight, float around its peaks. The pillar is resisting being eroded by radiation.

Nestled inside this dense mountain are fledgling stars. Long streamers of gas can be seen shooting in opposite directions from the pedestal at the top of the image. Another pair of jets is visible at another peak near the centre of the image. These jets are the signpost for new starbirth. The jets are launched by swirling discs around the stars, as these discs allow material to slowly accrete onto the stellar surfaces.

Credit: NASA, ESA and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

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Ever wonder what it’s like to be one of the solid rocket boosters that the Space Shuttle jettisoned around two minutes after launch? The video is a must-watch as not only does it give an awe-inspiring view of our planet, it also reveals the eerie sounds the boosters make (and the obvious thickening of the air) as they slowly make their way back to Earth.

Speaking of sounds, this video of the final Space Shuttle launch is a must-watch as well. It shows the awesome sound of the Space Shuttle 3 miles away.

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clouds over the pacific, photographed by goes 15, may 2015.

8 frames, each an average of 6 infrared photographs taken at the same time each day 25th-31st may. 

detail 1: the americas; primarily the west coast, but note also also the larger islands in the caribbean, the great lakes, and clouds forming on the mexican sierra madre occidental.

detail 2: south pacific; you can just make out denser cloud over new zealand and, above and left, fiji and new caledonia.

image credit: noaa/nasa. animation & composite: ageofdestruction.

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Occasionally a scientific advance or discovery can be as everyday as finding something that was misplaced.  But in this case the thing misplaced was the Beagle 2 Mars lander costing over 50 million pounds and lost on the surface of another planet a hunded million miles from Earth.  Launched June 2, 2003 and landing on Mars on December 25, 2003, the Beagle 2 failed to check in, and Mission scientists spent the month of January 2004 trying to find a signal or traces of the landing.  Early in February, the mission was declared lost.  Until two weeks ago when the HiRISE camera on NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found the Beagle 2 not far from its intended landing site, with what appears to be a small debris spread, though mission specialists are careful to say that this is not a crash site.  

The Beagle 2 was named in honor of Charles Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle, launched on May 11, 1820 by the English Royal Navy at a cost of 7803 English pounds.  The HMS Beagle did not see active service for several years, and its second mission carried a young Darwin around the world.  The Beagle was decommissioned in 1845 and broken apart for scrap in 1870.  The contribution made to science by the Beagle is immense, launching the career of Darwin and changing the face of biology.  It was not uncommon for the British Navy to name a ship after a dog-of the six survey ships commissioned, all had fanciful or animal names: H.M.S. Barracouta was the 1st and was the Beagle’s sister ship, but also the Chanticleer, Fairy, Saracen and Scorpion.  Legend says that William the Conquerer brought the beagle to England from France, and although the word begle first appears in 15 century without precedent, the word is though to derive from the French becguele meaning a noisy person (mouthy), for the dog’s bay and bark.  

This post for my friend Tina Chiu and of the Chiu family in honor of their beagle, Lani.  A good Beagle is hard to find!

Artists conception of the Beagle 2 deployed on Mars courtesy Beagle 2.  Visit their website for more.  

Image of the HMS Beagle via wikipedia from HMS Beagle at Tierra del Fuego (painted by Conrad Martens). HMS Beagle in the seaways of Tierra del Fuego, painting by Conrad Martens during the voyage of theBeagle (1831-1836), from The Illustrated Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, abridged and illustrated by Richard Leakey ISBN 0-571-14586-8.

Rhea Seddon was one of four space shuttle veterans inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Seddon was first selected by NASA in January 1978 and was a part of the first astronaut class that included women and she went on to become an astronaut in August 1979. She logged more than 30 days in space during her three flights. In addition to participating in and conducting medical experiments during her fights, Seddon also developed and implemented a variety of programs for the space shuttle.

Read more.