John Nelson Creates Stunning Visuals of Earth ‘Breathing’

John Nelson, noted for creating remarkable visualizations depicting weather conditions of the planet, has come up with a pulsating GIF that shows the heartbeat of the Earth in a course of seasonal changes through NASA’s satellite photography. View his other amazing GIF below. 

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Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Our solar system is huge, so let us break it down for you. Here are 5 things you should know this week: 

1. From Pluto, with Love

Last Valentine’s Day, no one had even seen Pluto’s most famous feature, the heart-shaped Sputnik Planum. These days, the New Horizons spacecraft is sending more and more pictures back to Earth from its Pluto flyby last July. We received new ones almost on a weekly basis. For the latest love from the outer solar system, go HERE.

2. Saturn’s Rings: More (and Less) than Meets the Eye

The Cassini spacecraft is executing a series of maneuvers to raise its orbit above the plane of Saturn’s famous rings. This will offer some breathtaking views that you won’t want to miss. Meanwhile, Cassini scientists are learning surprising things, such as the fact that the most opaque sections of the rings are not necessarily the thickest.

3. Stay on Target

The Juno spacecraft recently completed a course correction maneuver to fine-tune its approach to Jupiter. After years of flight and millions of miles crossed, arrival time is now set to the minute: July 4th at 11:18 p.m. EST. See why we’re going to jupiter HERE.

4. The Many Lives of “Planet X”

The announcement of a potential new planet beyond Neptune creates an opportunity to look back at the ongoing search for new worlds in the unmapped reaches of our own solar system. Review what we’ve found so far, and what else might be out there HERE.

5. Answering the Call of Europa

There are a few places more intriguing that Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, home to an underground ocean with all the ingredients necessary for potential life. We’re undertaking a new mission to investigate, and the project’s top manager and scientist will be giving a live lecture to detail their plans. Join Barry Goldstein and Bob Pappalardo on Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. EST for a live lecture series on Ustream.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

A Dusty Iris Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Alvin Jeng (LightBuckets.com)

Explanation: These clouds of interstellar dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile star fields of the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes called the Iris Nebula and dutifully cataloged as NGC 7023, this is not the only nebula in the sky to evoke the imagery of flowers. Surrounding it, obscuring clouds of dust and cold molecular gas are also present and can suggest other convoluted and fantastic shapes. Within the Iris, dusty nebular material surrounds a hot, young star. The dominant color of the brighter reflection nebula is blue, characteristic of dust grains reflecting starlight. Central filaments of the cosmic dust glow with a faint reddish photoluminesence as some dust grains effectively convert the star’s invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Infrared observations indicate that this nebula may contain complex carbon molecules known as PAHs. At the estimated distance of the Iris Nebula this remarkable wide field view is over 30 light-years across.

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America’s future: two space capsules in assembly at Kennedy Space Center.

On left, the Structural Test Article for Boeing’s Starliner at the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility. Starliner is one of two commercial spacecraft contracted by NASA to bring American astronauts to the International Space Station from domestic soil.

On the right, the pressure vessel for Exploration Mission 1, the second flight of Orion. EM-1 will be the first crew capable spacecraft since 1972 to fly to the Moon, which it will do over a weeklong mission in 2018. Orion is assembled in the Operations and Checkout Building, the same facility where Apollo moonships were checked out prior to launch.

Photos taken December 2 and February 3, by myself.