Does space have a standard time or do you rely on the time zones on Earth while you are in space?
Great question. Really it is up to the particular space agency/mission which time zone they use. For example, since the International Space Station is a collaboration between NASA, the Russian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japanese Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, we came up with the compromise of operating on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). So, Space Station time is the same as London time! The International Space Station orbits our planet every 90 minutes, so of course we’re transiting across multiple time zones constantly.
The dancing lights of the aurora provide stunning views, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.
Hubble Sees the Beautiful Side of Galaxy IC 335: This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the galaxy IC 335 in front of a backdrop of distant galaxies. IC 335 is part of a galaxy group containing three other galaxies, and located in the Fornax Galaxy Cluster 60 million light-years away.
As seen in this image, the disk of IC 335 appears edge-on from the vantage point of Earth. This makes it harder for astronomers to classify it, as most of the characteristics of a galaxys morphology the arms of a spiral or the bar across the center are only visible on its face. Still, the 45000 light-year-long galaxy could be classified as an S0 type.
These lenticular galaxies are an intermediate state in galaxy morphological classification schemes between true spiral and elliptical galaxies. They have a thin stellar disk and a bulge, like spiral galaxies, but in contrast to typical spiral galaxies they have used up most of the interstellar medium. Only a few new stars can be created out of the material that is left and the star formation rate is very low. Hence, the population of stars in S0 galaxies consists mainly of aging stars, very similar to the star population in elliptical galaxies.
As S0 galaxies have only ill-defined spiral arms they are easily mistaken for elliptical galaxies if they are seen inclined face-on or edge-on as IC 335 here. And indeed, despite the morphological differences between S0 and elliptical class galaxies, they share some common characteristics, like typical sizes and spectral features.
Both classes are also deemed early-type galaxies, because they are evolving passively. However, while elliptical galaxies may be passively evolving when we observe them, they have usually had violent interactions with other galaxies in their past. In contrast, S0 galaxies are either aging and fading spiral galaxies, which never had any interactions with other galaxies, or they are the aging result of a single merger between two spiral galaxies in the past. The exact nature of these galaxies is still a matter of debate.
“A classic that I never get tired of: the orange solar panel in front of the blue–white background and the curvature of Earth” wrote astronaut Thomas Pesquet (@thom_astro) of the European Space Agency from aboard the International Space Station.
The space station serves as the world’s leading laboratory for conducting cutting-edge microgravity research, and is the primary platform for technology development and testing in space to enable human and robotic exploration of destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars.
In the search for rogue planets and failed stars astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have created a new mosaic image of the Orion Nebula. During their survey of the famous star formation region, they found what may be the missing piece of a cosmic puzzle; the third, long-lost member of a star system that had broken apart.
The Orion Nebula is the closest star formation region to Earth, only 1400 light-years away. It is a turbulent place – stars are being born, planetary systems are forming and the radiation unleashed by young massive stars is carving cavities in the nebula and disrupting the growth of smaller, nearby stars.
With only four months left in the mission, Cassini is busy at Saturn. The upcoming cargo launch, anniversaries and more!
As our Cassini spacecraft made its first-ever dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings on April 26, 2017, one of its imaging cameras took a series of rapid-fire images that were used to make this movie sequence. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Hampton University
1-3. The Grand Finale
Our Cassini spacecraft has begun its final mission at Saturn. Some dates to note:
May 28, 2017: Cassini makes its riskiest ring crossing as it ventures deeper into Saturn’s innermost ring (D ring).
June 29, 2017: On this day in 2004, the Cassini orbiter and its travel companion the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe arrived at Saturn.
September 15, 2017: In a final, spectacular dive, Cassini will plunge into Saturn - beaming science data about Saturn’s atmosphere back to Earth to the last second. It’s all over at 5:08 a.m. PDT.
4. Cargo Launch to the International Space Station
June 1, 2017: Target date of the cargo launch. The uncrewed Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 39A at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The payload includes NICER, an instrument to measure neutron stars, and ROSA, a Roll-Out Solar Array that will test a new solar panel that rolls open in space like a party favor.
July 4, 2017: Twenty years ago, a wagon-sized rover named Sojourner blazed the trail for future Mars explorers - both robots and, one day, humans. Take a trip back in time to the vintage Mars Pathfinder websites:
Earth is welcoming a rather hefty visitor to the neighborhood Wednesday — an asteroid that hasn’t swung by these parts in roughly 400 years. About as big as the Rock of Gibraltar, asteroid 2014 JO25 is coming so close that its visit should be visible even to small telescopes.
But no need to panic, NASA says.
“Although there is absolutely no chance that the asteroid will collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size,” the space agency says in a statement.
At its closest approach, which should occur around midday ET Wednesday, the asteroid will be a little over a million miles away — or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. Though NASA says that distance is comfortable enough to ensure there will be no collision, it is nevertheless classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” due to the way its orbit intersects Earth’s.
ESA (European space agency… or if you’re like, fancy, in French, fancy in French, French fanciness, Agence spatiale européenne) is an organization in which multiple countries are engaged in, dedicated to exploring space
these hennies do things like: human space flight, launching and operation unmanned missions, Earth observation, science and telecommunication and like, other stuff, ya kno
unlike NASA, ESA has 22 member countries, talk about collaboration yo
there’s even a treaty among the countries: ESA’s purpose shall be to provide for, and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems
I may or may not be tearing up a little
because they’re like, so nice, they let Canada play with them too, so Canada (CSA) is an associated member of the ESA
ESA has a couple of dope-ass launch vehicles
Ariane 5: (yes, that’s the most German name ever) this gurl has been in use for 20 years! she’s been super successful, after an initial failed launch, she’s been transporting satellites into space for 71 successful starts in a row!
Soyuz: now, I kno, when you hear Soyuz, you think Russia, but hear me out: Roscosmos and ESA have an agreement in which Russia builds parts for the Soyuz launch vehicle and it gets assembled in French Guiana. Russia gets access to a good launch site for their launches, and ESA gets access to the very safe Soyuz launcher in exchange. [insert handshaking stock photo meme here]
Notable ESA missions that will blast your balls off:
Planck spacecraft: a cosmology mission that mapped the cosmic microwave background and essentially delivered amazing evidence for the age of the universe and cosmic inflation
Rosetta: ESA successfully landed on a COMET for the first time ever, telling us about the composition of comets. the spacecraft traveled 9 years to get there and yet they managed to land and signals. fuckin amazing
Huygens: ESA successfully landed a probe on Saturns moon, Titan. This was the first and only landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System!
Churyumov–Gerasimenko was the destination of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, launched on 2 March 2004. Rosettarendezvoused with Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 6 August 2014 and entered orbit on 10 September 2014. Rosetta’s lander, Philae, landed on the comet’s surface on 12 November 2014, becoming the first spacecraft to land on a comet nucleus. On 30 September 2016, the Rosetta spacecraft ended its mission by landing on the comet in its Ma'at regio.
Celebrating 17 Years of NASA’s ‘Little Earth Satellite That Could’
was little— the size of a small refrigerator; it was only supposed to last one
year and constructed and operated on a shoestring budget — yet it persisted.
After 17 years
of operation, more than 1,500 research papers generated and 180,000 images
captured, one of NASA’s pathfinder Earth satellites for testing new satellite
technologies and concepts comes to an end on March 30, 2017. The Earth
Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite will be powered off on that date but will not
enter Earth’s atmosphere until 2056.
Observing-1 satellite is like The Little
Engine That Could,” said Betsy Middleton, project scientist for the
satellite at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
the mission, we’re highlighting some of EO-1’s notable contributions to scientific research, spaceflight
advancements and society.
Scientists Learn More About
Earth in Fine Detail
This animation shifts
between an image showing flooding that occurred at the Arkansas and Mississippi
rivers on January 12, 2016, captured by ALI and the rivers at normal levels on
February 14, 2015 taken by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8. Credit:
NASA’s Earth Observatory
the Advanced Land Imager that improved observations of forest cover, crops,
coastal waters and small particles in the air known as aerosols. These
improvements allowed researchers to identify smaller features on a local scale
such as floods and landslides, which were especially useful for disaster
On the night of Sept. 6, 2014, EO-1’s Hyperion observed the ongoing eruption at Holuhraun, Iceland as shown in the above image. Partially covered by clouds, this scene shows the extent of the lava flows that had been erupting.
other key instrument Hyperion provided an even greater level of detail in
measuring the chemical constituents of Earth’s surface— akin to going from a black and white television
of the 1940s to the high-definition color televisions of today. Hyperion’s level of sophistication
doesn’t just show that plants are present, but can actually differentiate
between corn, sorghum and many other species and ecosystems. Scientists and
forest managers used these data, for instance, to explore remote terrain or to
take stock of smoke and other chemical constituents during volcanic eruptions,
and how they change through time.
Images of Disasters
EO-1 was one of
the first satellites to capture the scene after the World Trade Center attacks (pictured
above) and the flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. EO-1 also
observed the toxic sludge in western Hungary in October 2010 and a large methane leak in southern
in October 2015. All
of these scenes, which EO-1 provided quick, high-quality satellite imagery of
the event, were covered in major news outlets. All of these scenes were also
captured because of user requests. EO-1 had the capability of being
user-driven, meaning the public could submit a request to the team for where
they wanted the satellite to gather data along its fixed orbits.
shows toxic sludge (red-orange streak) running west from an aluminum oxide
plant in western Hungary after a wall broke allowing the sludge to spill from
the factory on October 4, 2010. This image was taken by EO-1’s Advanced Land
Imager on October 9, 2010. Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory
Enables More Efficient Satellite Collaboration
This image of volcanic activity
on Antarctica’s Mount Erebus on May 7, 2004 was taken by EO-1’s Advanced Land
Imager after sensing thermal emissions from the volcano. The satellite gave
itself new orders to take another image several hours later. Credit: Earth Observatory
EO-1 was among the
first satellites to be programmed with a form of artificial intelligence
software, allowing the satellite to make decisions based on the data it
collects. For instance, if a scientist
commanded EO-1 to take a picture of an erupting volcano, the software could
decide to automatically take a follow-up image the next time it passed
overhead. The Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment software was developed by
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was uploaded to
EO-1 three years after it launched.
This image of
Nassau Bahamas was taken by EO-1’s Advanced Land Imager on Oct 8, 2016, shortly
after Hurricane Matthew hit. European, Japanese, Canadian, and Italian Space
Agency members of the international coalition Committee on Earth Observation
Satellites used their respective satellites to take images over the Caribbean
islands and the U.S. Southeast coastline during Hurricane Matthew. Images were
used to make flood maps in response to requests from disaster management
agencies in Haiti, Dominican Republic, St. Martin, Bahamas, and the U.S.
Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The artificial intelligence software also allows a group of
satellites and ground sensors to communicate and coordinate with one another
with no manual prompting. Called a “sensor web”,
if a satellite viewed an interesting scene, it could alert
other satellites on the network to collect data
during their passes over the same area. Together, they more quickly observe and
downlink data from the scene than waiting for human orders. NASA’s SensorWeb software reduces the wait time for data
from weeks to days or hours, which is especially helpful for emergency
Laying the Foundation for
shows the Rodeo-Chediski fire on July 7, 2002, that were taken one minute apart
by Landsat 7 (burned areas in red) and EO-1 (burned areas in purple). This
precision formation flying allowed EO-1 to directly compare the data and
performance from its land imager and the Landsat 7 ETM+. EO-1’s most important
technology goal was to test ALI for future Landsat satellites, which was
accomplished on Landsat 8. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
EO-1 was a pioneer in precision “formation flying” that kept it orbiting Earth exactly one minute behind the Landsat 7 satellite, already in orbit. Before EO-1, no satellite had flown that close to another satellite in the same orbit. EO-1 used formation flying to do a side-by-side comparison of its onboard ALI with Landsat 7’s operational imager to compare the products from the two imagers. Today, many satellites that measure different characteristics of Earth, including the five satellites in NASA’s A Train, are positioned within seconds to minutes of one another to make observations on the surface near-simultaneously.
Expedition 51 Launch to the International Space Station
The Soyuz MS-04 rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 1:13 p.m. Baikonur time
carrying NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of
the Russian space agency Roscosmos into orbit to begin their four and a
half month mission on the International Space Station.
What is an upcoming project/mission you're most excited for?
It is likely that I’ll be assigned a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) within the next few years. We’ve had a continuous presence on the Space Station for 17 years now, along with our international partners (Russian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Japanese Space Agency, and Canadian Space Agency). Missions on the ISS typically last 6 months. I’m incredibly excited to contribute to the impressive array of scientific experiments that we are conducting every day on ISS (I am a scientist after all!), and very much look forward to the potential of going for a spacewalk and gaining that perspective of gazing down on the fragile blue ball that is our home from above. Beyond that, being part of test missions on the Orion spacecraft (currently under construction at NASA!) would be an extraordinary opportunity. The current NASA plan is to send astronauts in Orion in a mission that will go 40,000 miles beyond the Moon in the early 2020s, reaching a distance further than that ever travelled by humans. I’d certainly be game for that!