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RIP, or rather, Live Long and Prosper, Leonard Nimoy
(March 26, 1931 - February 27, 2015)

It is with some sadness we note the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for his iconic role as Spock in the 1960s television series Star Trek.

The influence of Star Trek and its characters such as Mr. Spock on American culture would become so great that it reached even the desk of the President of the United States.  In 1976, President Ford approved of the proposal to name the new Space Shuttle “Enterprise," after Star Trek's eponymous starship, due in large part to popular demand. 

The space shuttle Enterprise is parked atop its specially-designed 76-wheel transporter at Space Launch Complex Six. In the background is the payload changeout room, 2/19/1985

Documents about the naming of the Space Shuttle “Enterprise” from the Presidential Handwriting File of the Ford Presidential Library and Museum 
(via fordlibrarymuseum)

Relax on Kepler-16b - Where your shadow always has company

Like Luke Skywalker’s planet “Tatooine” in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn. Prospects for life on this unusual world aren’t good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice. But the discovery indicates that the movie’s iconic double-sunset is anything but science fiction.

The world’s rain

This is an absolutely spectacular video. One year ago today, NASA launched a new member of its Earth-Observing satellite fleet, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite (http://tmblr.co/Zyv2Js18hkg0z). Its job; measure rain over the entire planet.

In the 1990s, NASA launched a satellite called TRMM – the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, designed to measure how much rain falls throughout the tropical regions of Earth. That mission has been extraordinarily successful; it still is collecting useful data to this day.

Beyond just its longevity, the science it has enabled is amazing. If researchers want to study how fast mountains are eroding in the tropics, whether erosion patterns match rainfall patterns, whether pollution is causing a change in rainfall patterns, or how tropical rainfall patterns are impacted by a warming world, the TRMM mission has produced a multi-decade record where the answers may be found.

The GPM mission is the successor to TRMM: using multiple satellites linked together in a system with the GPM satellite as its keystone, it is capable of a more precise measurement and covers almost the entire world rather than just the tropics. This video shows rainfall throughout the world over a 6-month period after GPM launched.

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The Dumbbells

Credit & CopyrightDaniel LópezIAC

Explanation: These two nebulae are cataloged as M27 (left) and M76, popularly known as The Dumbbell and the Little Dumbbell. Not intended to indicate substandard mental prowess, their popular names refer to their similar, dumbbell or hourglass shapes. Both are planetary nebulae, gaseous shrouds cast off by dying sunlike stars, and are similar in physical size, at a light-year or so across. In each panel, the images were made at the same scale, so the apparent size difference is mostly because one is closer. Distance estimates suggest 1,200 light-years for the Dumbbell compared to 3,000 light-years or more for the Little Dumbell. These deep, narrow-band, false-color images show some remarkably complex structures in M27and M76, highlighting emission from hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms within the cosmic clouds.

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I fell in love with the universe, but she only speaks to me through her art. I listen to the rhythmic patterns she weaves, revealing the organized tapestry of language, displaying the canvas of symmetry.The final brush strokes of nature evoke what I feel her as the metaphysical poetry of reality.

-Observer of the stars