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.

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NASA Astronomt Picture of the Day 2016 February 8 

Light Pillars over Alaska 

What’s happening behind those houses? Pictured here are not auroras but nearby light pillars, a nearby phenomenon that can appear as a distant one. In most places on Earth, a lucky viewer can see a Sun-pillar, a column of light appearing to extend up from the Sun caused by flat fluttering ice-crystals reflecting sunlight from the upper atmosphere. Usually these ice crystals evaporate before reaching the ground. During freezing temperatures, however, flat fluttering ice crystals may form near the ground in a form of light snow, sometimes known as a crystal fog. These ice crystals may then reflect ground lights in columns not unlike a Sun-pillar. The featured image was taken in Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks in central Alaska.