Southern Craters and Galaxies : The Henbury craters in the Northern Territory, Australia, planet Earth, are the scars of an impact over 4,000 years old. When an ancient meteorite fragmented into dozens of pieces, the largest made the 180 meter diameter crater whose weathered walls and floor are lit in the foreground of this southern hemisphere nightscape. The vertical panoramic view follows our magnificent Milky Way galaxy stretching above horizon, its rich central starfields cut by obscuring dust clouds. A glance along the galactic plane also reveals Alpha and Beta Centauri and the stars of the Southern Cross. Captured in the region’s spectacular, dark skies, the Small Magellanic Cloud, satellite of the Milky Way, is the bright galaxy to the left. Not the lights of a nearby town, the visible glow on the horizon below it is the Large Magellanic Cloud rising. via NASA


Hi Tumblr!

I’m nearing the end of my yearlong mission here aboard the International Space Station, and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on Earth. A year is a long time. I am ready to come home, but first. I am ready to answer your questions about life and work in space. Have a question for me? Ask it here, then watch the answers here.

Keep following my Year In Space on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too!

Doomed Star Eta Carinae : Eta Carinae may be about to explode. But no one knows when - it may be next year, it may be one million years from now. Eta Carinae’s mass - about 100 times greater than our Sun - makes it an excellent candidate for a full blown supernova. Historical records do show that about 150 years ago Eta Carinae underwent an unusual outburst that made it one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Eta Carinae, in the Keyhole Nebula, is the only star currently thought to emit natural LASER light. This featured image, taken in 1996, brought out new details in the unusual nebula that surrounds this rogue star. Now clearly visible are two distinct lobes, a hot central region, and strange radial streaks. The lobes are filled with lanes of gas and dust which absorb the blue and ultraviolet light emitted near the center. The streaks remain unexplained. via NASA


In the Heart of the Virgo Cluster : The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies is the closest cluster of galaxies to our Milky Way Galaxy. The Virgo Cluster is so close that it spans more than 5 degrees on the sky - about 10 times the angle made by a full Moon. With its heart lying about 70 million light years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the nearest cluster of galaxies, contains over 2,000 galaxies, and has a noticeable gravitational pull on the galaxies of the Local Group of Galaxies surrounding our Milky Way Galaxy. The cluster contains not only galaxies filled with stars but also gas so hot it glows in X-rays. Motions of galaxies in and around clusters indicate that they contain more dark matter than any visible matter we can see. Pictured above, the heart of the Virgo Cluster includes bright Messier galaxies such as Markarians Eyes on the upper left, M86 just to the upper right of center, M84 on the far right, as well as spiral galaxy NGC 4388 at the bottom right. via NASA


While your co-worker reheating fish in the break room’s microwave should be a capital offense, in reality, nobody is actually going to die for it. Not so in space, where smells can kill. Especially if the scent in question is a product of off-gassing, a process by which an object gives off (potentially dangerous) chemical compounds. If you’ve ever spent a week tripping balls after having new carpet installed, you’ve experienced off-gassing firsthand.

One guy with a highly trained nose sniffs every single item that goes into space. His name is George Aldrich, and for going on half a century he’s been NASA’s chief schnozz, smelling not only the food, tools, and other supplies provided by NASA, but also any personal items that astronauts are planning to bring along on their journey. If an astronaut wants to take it, they’ve first got to let ol’ George sniff it. We would pay good money to watch some of the more awkward exchanges that surely must have occurred. The underwear alone …

6 Space Travel Problems With WTF Solutions No One Saw Coming