the sunlit earth

Eclipse 2017 From Space

On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse passed over North America. People throughout the continent captured incredible images of this celestial phenomenon. We and our partner agencies had a unique vantage point on the eclipse from space. Here are a few highlights from our fleet of satellites that observe the Sun, the Moon and Earth.

Our Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the Sun nearly 24/7 from its orbit 3,000 miles above Earth, saw a partial eclipse on Aug. 21.

SDO sees the Moon cross in front of the Sun several times a year. However, these lunar transits don’t usually correspond to an eclipse here on Earth, and an eclipse on the ground doesn’t guarantee that SDO will see anything out of the ordinary. In this case, on Aug. 21, SDO did see the Moon briefly pass in front of the Sun at the same time that the Moon’s shadow passed over the eastern United States. From its view in space, SDO only saw 14 percent of the Sun blocked by the Moon, while most U.S. residents saw 60 percent blockage or more.

Six people saw the eclipse from the International Space Station. Viewing the eclipse from orbit were NASA’s Randy Bresnik, Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, the European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos’ Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy. The space station crossed the path of the eclipse three times as it orbited above the continental United States at an altitude of 250 miles.

From a million miles out in space, our Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, instrument captured 12 natural color images of the Moon’s shadow crossing over North America. EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, where it photographs the full sunlit side of Earth every day, giving it a unique view of the shadow from total solar eclipses. EPIC normally takes about 20 to 22 images of Earth per day, so this animation appears to speed up the progression of the eclipse.

A ground-based image of the total solar eclipse – which looks like a gray ring – is superimposed over a red-toned image of the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. This view of the corona was captured by the European Space Agency and our Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. At center is an orange-toned image of the Sun’s surface as seen by our Solar Dynamics Observatory in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of light.

During a total solar eclipse, ground-based telescopes can observe the lowest part of the solar corona in a way that can’t be done at any other time, as the Sun’s dim corona is normally obscured by the Sun’s bright light. The structure in the ground-based corona image — defined by giant magnetic fields sweeping out from the Sun’s surface — can clearly be seen extending into the outer image from the space-based telescope. The more scientists understand about the lower corona, the more they can understand what causes the constant outward stream of material called the solar wind, as well as occasional giant eruptions called coronal mass ejections.

As millions of Americans watched the total solar eclipse that crossed the continental United States, the international Hinode solar observation satellite captured its own images of the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. The images were taken with Hinode’s X-ray telescope, or XRT, as it flew above the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of the United States, at an altitude of approximately 422 miles. Hinode is a joint endeavor by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the European Space Agency, the United Kingdom Space Agency and NASA.

During the total solar eclipse our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, in orbit around the Moon, turned one of its instruments towards Earth to capture an image of the Moon’s shadow over a large region of the United States.

As LRO crossed the lunar south pole heading north at 3,579 mph, the shadow of the Moon was racing across the United States at 1,500 mph. A few minutes later, LRO began a slow 180-degree turn to look back at Earth, capturing an image of the eclipse very near the location where totality lasted the longest. The spacecraft’s Narrow Angle Camera began scanning Earth at 2:25:30 p.m. EDT and completed the image 18 seconds later.

Sensors on the polar-orbiting Terra and Suomi NPP satellites gathered data and imagery in swaths thousands of miles wide. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, sensor on Terra and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, on Suomi NPP captured the data used to make this animation that alternates between two mosaics. Each mosaic is made with data from different overpasses that was collected at different times.

This full-disk geocolor image from NOAA/NASA’s GOES-16 shows the shadow of the Moon covering a large portion of the northwestern U.S. during the eclipse.

Our Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission captured this view of the Moon passing in front of the Sun on Aug. 21.  

Check out to learn more about the Aug. 21, 2017, eclipse along with future eclipses, and follow us on Twitter for more satellite images like these: @NASASun, @NASAMoon, and @NASAEarth.

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Souls on the Banks of the Acheron - Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl.

In this painting we see the newly dead hovering on the banks of that river of the lower world which they must cross in Charon’s boat ere they reach their ultimate destination.

Hermes is here fulfilling his important function of conducting the shades of the dead from the upper to the lower world. In Mr. Hirschl’s rendering but few of these souls are glad to leave the sunlit earth behind them. Its joys and attractions still hold them spellbound, only quite a few, mostly young children and old men, are resigned to their mortal fate.

The dissatisfied shades crowd around Hermes as he strides among them and implore him to relax his step, to stay the march of doom. But Hermes walks on regardless, with the calm inexorableness of a god, walks on and past the craving throng.

But implacable though he must be to their entreaties, he is not here depicted as deaf and insensible to their sufferings. It is this that gives to his figures a sympathetic grandeur.

In the middle distance Charon is seen approaching in the boat that shall row these souls to their final abode. It is the sight of his barque on the black waters of the Acheron that has struck the multitude with such terror. The dread passage once made, all hope is ended.

All communication with the sunlit side of the earth suddenly ceases. A morse code message comes in from a Russian bunker that translates “Don’t look at the sun”

A Journey of Eight Years

We’re taking time to highlight our progress and accomplishments over the past 8 years. Join our historical journey!

Obama Visit to NASA in 2010 

President Barack Obama visited our Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver remarks on the bold new course the administration is charting for America’s space program. During a speech at the center, President Obama said, “I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.” R  

Commercial Crew

Our Commercial Crew and Cargo Program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation systems. This program has allowed us to continue to reach low-Earth orbit, even after the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program. In the coming years, we will once again launch U.S. astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station through this commercial partnership.  

Revamping KSC: Vehicle Assembly Building

Our Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center served through the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, and is now undergoing renovations to accommodate future launch vehicles…like our Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will carry astronauts to deep space destinations, like Mars. Already, shuttle-era work platforms have been removed from the VAB to make way for our advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle, SLS.  

Revamping KSC: Pad 39B

For the first time since our Apollo-era rockets and space shuttles lifted off on missions from Launch Complex 39 at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida, one of the launch pads is undergoing extensive upgrades to support our 21st century space launch complex. At launch pad B, workers are making upgrades to support our Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and a variety of other commercial launch vehicles. .

Commercial Resupply Program

Our commercial partnerships with companies like SpaceX and Orbital ATK are allowing us to find new ways to resupply the International Space Station. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft is shown being captured using the Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Packed with more than 5,100 pounds of cargo and research equipment, the vehicle made Orbital ATK’s fifth commercial resupply flight to the station in October 2016.  

Pluto Flyby

After a seven-year journey, our New Horizons spacecraft arrived at dwarf planet Pluto. It captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of the planet on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the craft’s imaging camera. Pluto’s surface sports a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds. Many land forms have their own distinct colors, which tell a complex geological and climatological story.   

Juno at Jupiter

Juno’s 2011 launch brought it into orbit around Jupiter. This composite image depicts Jupiter’s cloud formations as seen through the eyes of Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) instrument as compared to the top layer, a Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem image of the planet. The MWR can see several hundred miles (kilometers) into Jupiter’s atmosphere with its largest antenna. The belts and bands visible on the surface are also visible in modified form in each layer below.  

Orion EFT-1

As we strived to make deep-space missions a reality, on Dec. 5, 2014, a Delta IV Heavy rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral carrying our Orion spacecraft on an unpiloted flight test to Earth orbit. During the two-orbit, four-and-a-half hour mission, engineers evaluated the systems critical to crew safety, the launch abort system, the heat shield and the parachute system.  

 Building of SLS

Meet the Space Launch System, our latest rocket system and see how it stacks up (no pun intended) to earlier generations of launch vehicles. While we engaged commercial partners to help us reach low-Earth orbit, we also were able to focus on deep-space exploration. This resulted in the creation of SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket and the one that will carry humans to deep-space destinations, like Mars.  

Small Satellite Technology

Our latest generation of small satellite technology represents a new way of advancing scientific research and reducing costs. These small sats are part of a technology demonstration that were deployed from the International Space Station in December 2016.   

Technology Development Organization

In 2013, we created a standalone technology development organization at NASA. Why? This new organization was an outgrowth of President Obama’s recognition of the critical role that space technology and innovation will play in enabling both future space missions and bettering life on Earth. The President’s most recent budget request included $4 million per year for our Centennial Challenges prizes. This program seeks innovations from diverse and non-traditional sources and competitors are not supported by government funding. Awards are only made to successful teams when the challenges are met. Throughout this administration (2009 – 2016), more than $6.5 million has been awarded to winners. 


Did you know that many technologies originally designed for space exploration are now being used by the general public? Yes, there’s space in your life! We have a long history of transferring technology to the private sector, things we like to call NASA Spinoffs. From enriched baby formula, to digital camera sensors…you may be surprised where this technology came from. 

 Space Station Extended to 2024

In 2014, the Obama Administration announced that the United States would support the extension of the International Space Station to at least 2024. This gave the station a decade to continue its already fruitful microgravity research mission. This offered scientists and engineers the time they need to ensure the future of exploration, scientific discoveries and economic development.  

Year in Space Mission

Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko spent a year in space to help us understand the impacts of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. The studies performed throughout their stay will yield beneficial knowledge on the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts that will one day travel to Mars. Scott Kelly was a particularly interesting candidate for the job, as he has a twin brother. While Scott spent a year on the International Space Station, his brother Mark spent the year on Earth. Comparing test results from both subjects will provide an even deeper understanding of the human body and how it reacts to the space environment.  

EPIC Earth Images

From one MILLION miles away, our EPIC camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth in 2015. Because of this spacecraft, you can now see a daily series of images of our home planet! These images are available 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired. 

James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope represents a giant leap forward in our quest to understand the universe and our origins.  The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST is designed to examine every phase of cosmic history: from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang to the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets to the evolution of our own solar system. More: 

Green Aviation

Our commitment to advancing aeronautics has led to developments in today’s aviation that have made air travel safer than ever. In fact, every U.S. aircraft flying today and every U.S. air traffic control tower uses NASA-developed technology in some way. Streamlined aircraft bodies, quieter jet engines, techniques for preventing icing, drag-reducing winglets, lightweight composite structures, software tools to improve the flow of tens of thousands of aircraft through the sky, and so much more are an everyday part of flying thanks to our research that traces its origins back to the earliest days of aviation. Our green aviation technologies are dramatically reducing the environmental impact of aviation and improving its efficiency while maintaining safety in more crowded skies, and paving the way for revolutionary aircraft shapes and propulsion. 


History is about to repeat itself as the Quiet Supersonic Technology, or QueSST, concept  begins its design phase to become one of the newest generation of X-planes. Over the past seven decades, our nation’s best minds in aviation designed, built and flew a series of experimental airplanes to test the latest fanciful and practical ideas related to flight. Known as X-planes, we are again are preparing to put in the sky an array of new experimental aircraft, each intended to carry on the legacy of demonstrating advanced technologies that will push back the frontiers of aviation.  


Blazing the trail for safely integrating drones into the national airspace, we have been testing and researching uncrewed aircraft. The most recent “out of sight” tests are helping us solve the challenge of drones flying beyond the visual line of sight of their human operators without endangering other aircraft. 

Solar Dynamics Observatory

Our Solar Dynamics Observatory, which launched in 2010, observes the sun in unparalleled detail and is yet another mission designed to understand the space in which we live. In this image, the sun, our system’s only star seems to be sending us a message. A pair of giant filaments on the face of the sun form what appears to be an enormous arrow pointing to the right. If straightened out, each filament would be about as long as the sun’s diameter—1 million miles long. Such filaments are cooler clouds of solar material suspended above the sun’s surface by powerful magnetic forces. Filaments can float for days without much change, though they can also erupt, releasing solar material in a shower that either rains back down or escapes out into space, becoming a moving cloud known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME.  

Curiosity Launch and Landing

There are selfies and there are selfies—from a world more than 33 million miles away. When the Curiosity Rover launched on Nov. 6, 2011, to begin a 10-month journey to the Red Planet, who knew it would be so photogenic. Not only has Curiosity sent back beauty shots of itself, its imagery has increased our knowledge of Mars manyfold. But it’s not just a camera; onboard are an array of scientific instruments designed to analyze the Red Planet’s soil, rocks and chemical composition. 

Astronaut Applications

On Dec. 14, 2015, we announced that astronaut applications were open on USAJOBS. The window for applications closed on Feb. 18 with a record turnout! We received more than 18,300 applications from excited individuals from around the country, all hoping to join the 2017 astronaut class. This surpassed the more than 6,100 received in 2012, and the previous record of 8,000 applicants in 1978.  


Asteroids are a part of our solar system and in our quest to learn more about their origins, we sent the OSIRIS-Rex, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, to rendezvous with comet Bennu and return a sample of the comet to scientists here on Earth. Along the way, the mission will be multitasking during its two-year outbound cruise to search for elusive “Trojan” asteroids. Trojans are asteroids that are constant companions to planets in our solar system as they orbit the sun, remaining near a stable point 60 degrees in front of or behind the planet. 

 Habitable Zone Planets

In December 1995, the first exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system) was found. Since then, our Kepler mission has surveyed the Milky Way to verify 2,000+ exoplanets. On July 23, 2015, the Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone. Not only that, but the planet orbits a sun very much like our own. 

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Terrifying Tolkien week: « day 5: one chapter »

8. Of the Darkening of Valinor
There, beneath the sheer walls of the mountains and the cold dark sea, the shadows were deepest and thickest in the world; and there in Avathar, secret and unknown, Ungoliant had made her abode […] Now Melkor came to Avathar and sought her out; and he put on again the form that he had worn as the tyrant of Utumno: a dark Lord, tall and terrible. In that form he remained ever after. There in the black shadows, beyond the sight even of Manwë in his highest halls, Melkor with Ungoliant plotted his revenge […] It is told that even as Fëanor and Fingolfin stood before Manwë there came the mingling of the lights, when both Trees were shining, and the silent city of Valmar was filled with a radiance of silver and gold. And in that very hour Melkor and Ungoliant came hastening over the fields of Valinor, as the shadow of a black cloud upon the wind fleets over the sunlit earth; and they came before the green mound Ezellohar.

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

It was midafternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models. Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system.

On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modeling capabilities of Earth’s energy. Guoyong Wen, a NASA scientist working for Morgan State University in Baltimore, is leading a team to gather data from the ground and satellites before, during and after the eclipse so they can simulate this year’s eclipse using an advanced computer model, called a 3-D radiative transfer model. If successful, Wen and his team will help develop new calculations that improve our estimates of the amount of solar energy reaching the ground, and our understanding of one of the key players in regulating Earth’s energy system, clouds.

Keep reading

Souls on the Banks of the Acheron - Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl.

In this painting we see the newly dead hovering on the banks of that river of the lower world which they must cross in Charon’s boat ere they reach their ultimate destination.

Hermes is here fulfilling his important function of conducting the shades of the dead from the upper to the lower world. In Mr. Hirschl’s rendering but few of these souls are glad to leave the sunlit earth behind them. Its joys and attractions still hold them spellbound, only quite a few, mostly young children and old men, are resigned to their mortal fate.

Keep reading

relaxing video game music to end those busy days. listen here

Title Theme- Ocarina of Time | Snowbelle City Slowed- Pokemon XY | Zelda’s Lullaby Music Box Remix | Rose and Ghost Piano cover- Secret of Mana | The Fairy Queen- Wind Waker | A Place to Return To- Terranigma | 7pm Piano Arrangement- Animal Crossing New Leaf | Fi’s Farewell- Skyward Sword | Agata Forest- Okami | Treant Forest- Tales of Symphonia | Dearly Beloved- KH II | The Sunlit Earth- Shadow of the Colossus | Dire Dire Docks- Super Mario 64 |

It’s Friday...Come Space Out with Us

It’s Friday…which seems like a great excuse to take a look at some awesome images from space.

First, let’s start with our home planet: Earth.

This view of the entire sunlit side of Earth was taken from one million miles away…yes, one MILLION! Our EPIC camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory captured this image in July 2015 and the picture was generated by combining three separate images to create a photographic-quality image.

Next, let’s venture out 4,000 light-years from Earth.

This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is not only stunning…but shows the colorful “last hurrah” of a star like our sun. This star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star’s remaining core. Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris…but not for another 5 billion years.

The material expelled by the star glows with different colors depending on its composition, its density and how close it is to the hot central star. Blue samples helium; blue-green oxygen, and red nitrogen and hydrogen.

Want to see some rocks on Mars?

Here’s an image of the layered geologic past of Mars revealed in stunning detail. This color image was returned by our Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently “roving” around the Red Planet, exploring the “Murray Buttes” region.

In this region, Curiosity is investigating how and when the habitable ancient conditions known from the mission’s earlier findings evolved into conditions drier and less favorable for life.

Did you know there are people currently living and working in space?

Right now, three people from three different countries are living and working 250 miles above Earth on the International Space Station. While there, they are performing important experiments that will help us back here on Earth, and with future exploration to deep space.

This image, taken by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins shows the stunning moonrise over Earth from the perspective of the space station.

Lastly, let’s venture over to someplace REALLY hot…our sun.

The sun is the center of our solar system, and makes up 99.8% of the mass of the entire solar system…so it’s pretty huge. Since the sun is a star, it does not have a solid surface, but is a ball of gas held together by its own gravity. The temperature at the sun’s core is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius)…so HOT!

This awesome visualization appears to show the sun spinning, as if stuck on a pinwheel. It is actually the spacecraft, SDO, that did the spinning though. Engineers instructed our Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to roll 360 degrees on one axis, during this seven-hour maneuver, the spacecraft took an image every 12 seconds.

This maneuver happens twice a year to help SDO’s imager instrument to take precise measurements of the solar limb (the outer edge of the sun as seen by SDO).

Thanks for spacing out with us…you may now resume your Friday. 

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an end once and for all - a video game mix for songs that when you first heard them nearly brought you to tears - [listen here]

not tomorrow - silent hill // will the circle be unbroken - bioshock infinite // ethan mars’ main theme - heavy rain // an end once and for all - mass effect 3 // setting sail, coming home - bastion // deliver hope - halo reach // still alive - mirror’s edge // the best is yet to come - metal gear solid // late goodbye - max payne 2 // the sunlit earth - shadow of the colossus // naia - brothers: a tale of two sons // exile vilify - portal 2 // here’s to you - metal gear solid 4 // pyroxene of the heart - eternal sonata // midna’s lament - legend of zelda: twilight princess // the path (a new beginning) - the last of us // goodbye - the walking dead // deadman’s gun - red dead redemption // elizabeth - bioshock infinite

Solar System: Top 5 Things to Know This Week

Here are five things you need to know about our amazing solar system this week: 

1. Perpetual Pluto-palooza

The New Horizons spacecraft continues its ongoing download of data and images from the July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. In the latest weekly release, the new images don’t disappoint, showing fine details in an exotic landscape. The New Horizons team has also described a wide range of findings about the dwarf planet’s system in its first science paper. Learn more HERE.

2. Encounter at Enceladus

The Cassini spacecraft has returned the closest images ever showing the north polar region of Saturn’s intriguing ice moon Enceladus. Scientists expected the area to be heavily cratered, but the new high-resolution Cassini images also show a landscape of stark contrasts, crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters. The robotic spacecraft buzzed by the moon during the first of what will be three close encounters this year – the last of the long mission. Next up: on Oct. 28 Cassini will deep dive right through Enceladus’ famous ice geyser plume! Learn more HERE.

3. We’re Giving You the Whole World, Every Day

We have worked with NOAA to launch a new website that shows the full, sunlit side of the Earth on a daily basis. The images come from our camera a million miles away aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Each daily sequence of images shows the Earth as it rotates, revealing the entire planet over the course of a day. Take a look HERE.

4. Going Big at Jupiter

We have large, new maps of Jupiter, thanks to data from the Wide Field Camera 3 on our Hubble Space Telescope. The big images provide a detailed look at how the giant planet’s features change over time. In fact, the maps are just the first in a planned series of yearly portraits of the solar system’s four outer planets. The views come as we prepare for the Juno mission to arrive at Jupiter in little less than a year. 

5. Catch a Falling Star

Meteors aren’t really falling stars, just dust and rock from deep space meeting a fiery end in Earth’s atmosphere – but they’re a sight to behold if you can catch a glimpse. The Orionid meteors appear every year around this time, when Earth travels through an area of space littered with debris from Halley’s Comet. This year the peak will occur on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 21, into the morning of Thursday, Oct. 22. Find out how to watch HERE

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