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Pacific Climate Calm May 31, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Earth, Jason, JPL, NASA, Pacific Ocean, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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Pacific Climate Calm
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Credit:

NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography

Description:

In early 2006, a weak La Niña event kept the temperatures in the Pacific Ocean along the equator a little cooler than normal. Atlantic Ocean hurricane forecasters were keeping an eye on the Pacific because La Niña events and the large-scale atmospheric changes that often go along with them can have a long-distance effect on hurricane formation in the Atlantic Ocean. But by April 2006, the La Niña had all but faded. The latest remote-sensing data from NASA’ss Jason satellite show near-normal conditions across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

This image shows Jason observations of sea surface height collected over a 10-day period centered on May 24, 2006. The height of the water relates to the temperature of the water, an indicator of the changing amount of heat stored in the ocean. As the ocean warms, its level rises; as it cools, its level falls. Yellow and red areas indicate where the waters are relatively warmer and have expanded above normal sea level. Green areas, which dominate the image, indicate near-normal sea level. Blue and purple areas show where the waters are relatively colder, and the sea level is lower than normal.

The Jason satellite carries a dual-frequency radar altimeter. This instrument beams microwave pulses downward toward the Earth at frequencies of 13.6 and 5.3 Gigahertz. To determine the ocean’s height, the instrument precisely measures the time it takes for the microwave pulses to bounce off the surface and return to the spacecraft. This measure, multiplied by the speed of light, gives the range from the satellite to the ocean surface.

Help from Orion May 29, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Cassini, JPL, NASA, Orion, Planets, Saturn, Space Fotos, Space Science Institute.
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Help from Orion
Target Name: Saturn
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: Cassini
Spacecraft: Cassini Orbiter
Instrument: Imaging Science Subsystem – Narrow Angle
Product Size: 747 samples x 653 lines
Produced By: Cassini Imaging Team
Primary Data Set: Cassini
Full-Res TIFF: PIA08187.tif (488.6 kB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA08187.jpg (12.78 kB)

Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute 

Description:

The brilliant supergiant star, Rigel, emerges from behind the haze of Saturn's upper atmosphere in this Cassini view.

Rigel in is one of the 10 brightest stars in Earth's sky and forms the left foot (sometimes referred to as the left knee) of the familiar constellation Orion.

Imaging scientists use views like these to probe the vertical structure of haze in Saturn's upper atmosphere. The dimming of the star at each altitude in the atmosphere yields information on the density of the haze at that location.

The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 28, 2006 at a distance of approximately 663,000 kilometers (412,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 4 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Wave Sets and Tidal Currents, Gulf of California May 29, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Astronaut, Earth, International Space Station, NASA, People, Planets, Space Fotos.
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Wave Sets and Tidal Currents, Gulf of California
Click here to view full image (439 kb)

Credit:

Earth Observatory, International Space Station Program, NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

Description:

Sunglint (reflection of sunlight from the water surface directly back to the camera or satellite sensor) off the Gulf of California gives the water a silver-gray appearance rather than the normal azure color in this astronaut photograph. (Read Sunglint in Astronaut Photography of Earth for a more detailed explanation of sunglint.) The sunglint allows us to see several active features which wouldn’t be visible otherwise. The image captures a moment in time displaying very active and complex ocean wave dynamics. In this view of Punta Perihuete, Mexico, we can see three major features: biological or man-made oils floating on the surface; the out-going tidal current; and complex wave patterns. The oils on the surface are recognizable as light-grey, curved and variable-width streamers shaped by the local winds and currents. Plankton, fish, natural oil seeps, and boats dumping their bilges are all potential sources for these oils.

This image was taken at 1:10 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (19:10 Greenwich Mean Time), and low tide occurred later at 2:44 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (20:44 Greenwich Mean Time). The outgoing, or ebb, current from Playa Colorado Bay is visible at upper right (the Bay itself is not shown). The current brings with it fresher and less dense water that appears as an elongated lens-shape as it flows on top of saltier Gulf water. This density difference causes obvious shear zones along the current boundary, and also a dampening of the ocean wave sets. Offshore, complex wave patterns, including intersecting wave sets, result from a variety of interactions of the moving water with the coastline. The sunglint allows identification of wave sets that are nearly perpendicular to the shoreline (bottom center), another wave pattern parallel to the shore (top center), and wave patterns caused by reflection and refraction (deflecting of the wave off a straight path) along a shoal area that also marks the boundary of the fresh water lens.

Astronaut photograph ISS013-E-16599 was acquired May 9, 2006, with a Kodak 760C digital camera using an 800 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

Fornax A polarization May 28, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Deep Space, Space Fotos.
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Image
Credit:

NRAO/AUI

Description:

Fornax A, radio galaxy associated with the bright elliptical galaxy NGC1316. In this hue-intensity image the brightness corresponds to the intensity of the lobes while the highly polarized structure is saturated white and regions of increasing depolarization are shaded red.

NGC281 May 28, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in AURA, Deep Space, NOAO, NSF, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, WIYN.
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NGC281

Credit:

T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage and WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Description:

This image is a wide-field view of the star-forming region NGC 281 taken with the WIYN 0.9-meter at Kitt Peak National Observatory

Unexpected Disks Around Interacting Stars May 28, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in AURA, Deep Space, Illustration, NOAO, NSF, Space Fotos.
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Unexpected Disks

Credit:

P. Marenfeld and NOAO/AURA/NSF

Description:

Artist concept of an unusual class of interacting binary stars emitting excess amounts of infrared radiation, suggesting that these odd objects are surrounded by large disks of cool dust. The image was created in support of an announcement made at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Washington, DC

Jupiter and Io in the Infrared May 28, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Io, Jupiter, Palomar Observatory, Planets, Space Fotos, Telescopes.
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Credit:

Tom Jarrett (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center / Spitzer Science Center / Caltech), Palomar Observatory

Description:

The image above shows Jupiter and its moon Io under a excellent seeing conditions as photographed using the 200-inch Hale Telescope. It was observed UT May 14, 2006 at 06:46:10 (11:46 pm May 13 PDT) using the Hale Telescope's Wide-Field Infrared Camera.

The bright spot in the image is Jupiter's volcanic satellite Io. The bright regions near the planet's poles mark the location of auroral emissions from Jupiter's powerful magnetic field.

GRO J1655-40: Evidence for a Spinning Black Hole May 28, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in APoD, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, Illustration, NASA, Satellite, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Drawing Credit:

A. Hobart, CXC

Explanation:

In the center of a swirling whirlpool of hot gas is likely a beast that has never been seen directly: a black hole. Studies of the bright light emitted by the swirling gas frequently indicate not only that a black hole is present, but also likely attributes. The gas surrounding GRO J1655-40, for example, has been found to display an unusual flickering at a rate of 450 times a second. Given a previous mass estimate for the central object of seven times the mass of our Sun, the rate of the fast flickering can be explained by a black hole that is rotating very rapidly. What physical mechanisms actually cause the flickering — and a slower quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) — in accretion disks surrounding black holes and neutron stars remains a topic of much research.

Reminder of Ages Past May 26, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Cassini, JPL, NASA, Planets, Rhea, Satellite, Saturn, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Space Science Institute.
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Reminder of Ages Past

Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Description

Rhea displays a prominent scar in this view from Cassini. A large and ancient impact basin can be seen at upper right. The giant feature occurs within a terrain that appears rugged and which likely is saturated with other smaller craters.

Rhea is Saturn's second-largest moon at 1,528 kilometers (949 miles) across. This view shows terrain on the moon's trailing hemisphere. North is up.

The image was taken in polarized ultraviolet light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 24, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Rhea and at a Sun-Rhea-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 117 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 12 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Stellar Jets May 26, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Deep Space, Illustration, JPL, NASA, People, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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image

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)

Description:

This artist concept illustrates jets of material shooting out from the neutron star in the binary system 4U 0614+091. Astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope found these remarkable jets, which are streaming into space at nearly the speed of light. Until this observation, astronomers thought that the ability to shoot such continuous jets into space was unique to black holes.

The 4U 0614+091 system contains two stellar corpses, remnants of long-dead stars. The larger one (upper left) is the surviving core of a sun-like star, known as a "white dwarf." The smaller neutron star (lower right, at center of disk) is the dead core of a much more massive star that once exploded in a supernova. Even though the neutron star is tiny compared to the white dwarf it is incredibly dense and is actually about 14 times more massive!

The white dwarf orbits the neutron star similar to the way the Earth orbits the sun. Like a cosmic vacuum cleaner, the neutron star's intense gravity picks up material leaving the white dwarf's atmosphere and collects it into a disk around itself. Known as an "accretion disk," the collected material orbits the neutron star similar to the way rings circle Saturn. The accretion disk is much denser than Saturn's rings, however, and under the influence of the neutron star's immense gravity the inner portions are heated to incredible temperatures.

How the jets around the neutron star are created remains a mystery, but scientists note that accretion disks and intense gravitational fields are characteristics that both neutron stars in binary systems like this one and black holes share. They believe that these traits may be all that is needed to form and fuel the continuous jets of matter.

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