orbital sciences


A ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon that occurs when the moon’s orbit is at its apogee: the part of its orbit farthest away from the Earth. Because the moon is so far away, it seems smaller than normal to the human eye. The result is that the moon doesn't entirely block out our view of the sun, but leaves an “annulus,” or ring of sunlight glowing around it. Hence the term  “annular” eclipse rather than a “total” eclipse.


Here’s the orbital period of our solar system’s 8 major planets (how long it takes each to travel around the sun). Their size is to scale and their speed is accurate relative to Earth’s. The repetition of each GIF is proportional to their orbital period. Mercury takes less than 3 months to zoom around Sol, Neptune takes nearly 165 years.  

Jupiter doesn’t orbit the Sun. The other planets in our solar system are so much smaller than the Sun that their centers of mass are deep inside of it. Jupiter, however, is so huge that it has the same center of mass as the Sun. Basically, they both orbit the same point, which is just above the Sun itself. Source Source 2 Source 3

Demonstration from NASA:

Juno Spacecraft: What Do We Hope to Learn?

The Juno spacecraft has been traveling toward its destination since its launch in 2011, and is set to insert Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system. Humans have been studying it for hundreds of years, yet still many basic questions about the gas world remain.

The primary goal of the Juno spacecraft is to reveal the story of the formation and evolution of the planet Jupiter. Understanding the origin and evolution of Jupiter can provide the knowledge needed to help us understand the origin of our solar system and planetary systems around other stars.

Have We Visited Jupiter Before? Yes! In 1995, our Galileo mission (artist illustration above) made the voyage to Jupiter. One of its jobs was to drop a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere. The data showed us that the composition was different than scientists thought, indicating that our theories of planetary formation were wrong.

What’s Different About This Visit? The Juno spacecraft will, for the first time, see below Jupiter’s dense clover of clouds. [Bonus Fact: This is why the mission was named after the Roman goddess, who was Jupiter’s wife, and who could also see through the clouds.]

Unlocking Jupiter’s Secrets

Specifically, Juno will…

  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous

Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.

For updates on the Juno mission, follow the spacecraft on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr.

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


Astronaut Training Facility - The life of a NASA intern

It’s pretty cool to be a NASA intern, especially on days when you get to see some of the astronaut training areas. This particular area has full scale moch-ups of spacecraft as well as International Space Station modules that the astronauts train in. Astronauts were training in the Space Station modules on the day that I went so I wasn’t able to “get inside“ the Space Station, but I did get a look at NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Seen in the 5th image above is the Orion spacecraft - the only spacecraft able to take Humans to the Moon or Mars (SpaceX is currently building one as well, but only Orion has had a test flight into space).

It was very cool to see the Orion Capsule that astronauts train in because I am working on audio controls in the core flight software of the Orion spacecraft. Some of the software that I write will actually be used in space! I was also able to get into the Space Shuttle trainer, seen in the top 3 images (2 are on the top deck and one is in the cargo bay). The second to last image is outside of the Commercial Crew moch-ups and shows SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Boeing developments.

p.s. thanks to all my followers for the support, I’ll make sure to keep you up to date about NASA stuff as well as space pics and info!

An image taken while orbiting the earth at 27,300 kilometres per hour.

Aboard the ISS, Don Pettit took this snap at over 380 km from the earth’s surface. This long exposure image fully illustrates human reliance on artificial lighting. 

(Via The Smithsonian)

✨✨✨ Stargazer 

This gif was inspired by the story of Caroline Herschel.

Born in 1750, Caroline suffered from typhus and a mother who treated her as a servant. She eventually escaped the servant life and joined her older brother in England.  William was a professional musician, and after middling success in music he turned his (and Caroline’s) attention to astronomy.

The hobby of astronomy turned into a profession for both of them, and Caroline became the first woman to receive a salary for her contributions to science. (discovering a whole lot of astronomical stuff along the way)

I came upon the story in the book linked below, which was a long and rich read.

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science.

There’s a rebellious little planetoid that orbits the Sun in the opposite direction of all the major objects in the solar system. Nobody is sure how ‘Niku’ acquired such an orbit, but the data suggests that “there’s more going on in the outer solar system than we’re fully aware of,” including the possibility of another orbital plane. Source


Behold- The Space Shuttle Tile

Designing an orbiter that is able to endure the brutal -250 F in the outer stretches to space to bewildering 3000 F during the reentry is a ridiculously challenging task.

Space shuttle is the name for the entire setup, whereas the orbiter is the ‘planeattached

The Thermal Armor

Ergo, after churning the minds of the elite scientists and engineers, we now have the TPS ( Thermal protection system ) that protects the orbiter from these harsh temperature changes.


The thermal protection system is like a armor that maintains the outer skin of the orbiter within acceptable temperatures. This is achieved by employing various materials on the outer structural skin.

Wait, what kind of materials?

The tile’s material is an Insulator. These materials do not give away their heat that is contained easily.

Cardboard, being an insulator protects your hand from the hot coffee. (PC: Nirzar)

Conductors on the other hand are the exact opposite. They love to give away their heat.

This is the reason why touching a hot aluminium / stainless steel ( Conductors ) pan at a moderate 100 C would cause burns, but touching the Space shuttle tile ( An amazing insulator ) at 2200 C is probably not a bad idea!

Perceiving Temperature


When something feels hot to you, it’s really because there is a large amount of heat transferred between the object and your skin.

And when there is very less heat transfer, we perceive it as cold!

In the case of the space tile, being a really good insulator it is conducting ( transferring out ) the heat that in within it at a remarkably low rate.

Ergo, if we were to touch it, it will feel the same as a quotidian household object.

Cool eh ?