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Atlantis awaiting Her Launch September 2, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Planets, Space Fotos.
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Atlantis On the Launch Pad


After sunset on August 29th, 2006, Space Shuttle Atlantis is bathed in light from the fixed service structure on Launch Pad 39B. Seen on either side of Atlantis’ engine nozzles are the tail masts, which provide several umbilical connections to the orbiter, including a liquid-oxygen line through one and a liquid-hydrogen line through another. Below the mobile launcher platform, on which Atlantis rests, is the crawler-transporter beginning to move away from the platform. The shuttle had been moved off the launch pad due to concerns about the impact of Tropical Storm Ernesto, expected within 24 hours. The forecast of lesser winds expected from Ernesto and its projected direction convinced Launch Integration Manager LeRoy Cain and Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach to return the shuttle to the launch pad.


NASA/Kim Shiflett


Saturn’s Rings Sparkle in X-rays September 2, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Planets, Space Fotos.
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UPPER: Recent image from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory telescope reveals
X-ray emissions from the rings of Saturn.
LOWER: More than 90 years ago, the experimental physicist Kristian Birkeland
produced the “rings of Saturn” in a glowing plasma, using a slightly magnetized 24
cm diameter conducting globe as a cathode in a vacuum discharge. Published in
1913! Electricity is nature’s efficient means of X-ray production.


X-ray: NASA/MSFC/CXC/A.Bhardwaj et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

Further Reading:


250,000 Earth Photographs from the International Space Station September 2, 2006

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250,000 Earth Photographs from the International Space Station Click here to view full image (321 kb)


Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.


The crew of Expedition 13 recently passed a major milestone: as of late August 2006, more than one quarter of a million images of Earth had been taken from the International Space Station. The rate at which Expedition 13 has been photographing the Earth has been record-setting, as they passed the 200,000th image mark less than two months before. The 250,000th image is an oblique view (the photograph was taken from a side angle) of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. The oblique view provides a sense of perspective and accents topography, in contrast to nadir (directly downwards) views, such as this image of Christchurch acquired by the Landsat 7 satellite in 2001.

Snow highlights the peaks of the Banks Peninsula to the southeast of the city. The peninsula has a radically different landscape compared to the adjoining, flat Canterbury Plains, where Christchurch (gray patch to the north) is located. The Banks Peninsula is formed from the overlapping cones of the extinct Lyttelton and Akaroa volcanoes. Subsequent erosion of the cones formed the heavily dissected terrain visible in the image, and sea level rise led to the creation of several harbors around the Peninsula. Erosion continues unabated today, as evidenced by the apron of greenish blue, sediment-laden waters surrounding the Banks Peninsula.

Other interesting features in the image include the braided Waimakariri River to the north-northwest of the city, and the greenish brown waters of Lake Ellesmere at image left. The coloration of the water is due both to its shallow depth (1.4 meters on average) and its high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which fertilizes the growth of large amounts of green algae.

Astronaut photograph ISS013-E-67242 was acquired August 15, 2006, with a Kodak 760C digital camera using a 180 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 also 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.

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