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A Night at Poker Flat

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Hubble picture of the day
Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy
29 Jan 2015

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At first glance, galaxy NGC 7714 resembles a partial golden ring from an amusement park ride. This unusual structure is a river of Sun-like stars that has been pulled deep into space by the gravitational tug of a bypassing galaxy (not seen in this Hubble Space Telescope photo). Though the universe is full of such colliding galaxies that are distorted in a gravitational taffy-pull, NGC 7714 is particularly striking for the seeming fluidity of the stars along a vast arc. The near-collision between the galaxies happened at least 100 million years ago.

RedOrbit Images Of The Day - Earth

Twin Tropical Cyclones
30 Jan 2015
Twin Tropical Cyclones
In January 2015, two tropical cyclones? Diamondra and Eunice?swirled over the central Indian Ocean. Neither storm was particularly strong, nor were they expected to make landfall or cause significant damage. But their close proximity offered striking views to satellites.

On January 28, 2015, geostationary satellites maintained by EUMETSAT and the Japanese Meteorological Agency collected the infrared data used to make the composite image at the top of the page.

The two storms were about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) apart on January 28, 2015, when VIIRS imaged them. Eunice, the stronger of the two, was located to the west of Diamondra. Eunice had maximum sustained winds of about 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, while Diamondra?s maximum winds topped out at about 100 kilometers (60 miles). Both storms were moving in a southeasterly direction.

If two tropical cyclones draw near each other, they begin to rotate cyclonically around an axis connecting their centers?something meteorologists call the Fujiwhara Effect. Such binary storms can even merge if their centers get close enough.

?But in this case, the centers of the two vortices appear to be too far apart,? explained Brian McNoldy, a meteorologist at the University of Miami. ?As a rough rule of thumb, the centers would need to be separated by less than 10 degrees (about 1,100 kilometers) for them to start rotating about each other in some fashion. From the latest Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts, both storms are expected to move to the southeast at about the same speed, so they probably won?t get any closer to each other.?
Credit: Hong Kong Observatory, NASA, Joint Typhoon Warning Center

RedOrbit Images Of The Day - Mars

Higher Terrain between Sinai and Solis Plana
30 Jan 2015
Higher Terrain between Sinai and Solis Plana
The terrain in this observation looks like an ancient uplifted crustal block. The area is riddled with faults (big cracks that allow rocks to slide) and ridges that look like uncovered magma dikes.

A Mars Orbital Camera picture shows the region to be moderately dusty, but rocks do poke out along the ridges. With high resolution images, we want to know if the dikes are of the same composition as the flood lavas that surround this high terrain. And what material did the dikes intrude upon which can be eroded away?
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

RedOrbit Images Of The Day - Universe

Hubble\'s View of the Polar Ring of Arp 230
30 Jan 2015
Hubble\'s View of the Polar Ring of Arp 230
This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Arp 230 is a galaxy of an uncommon or peculiar shape, and is therefore part of the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies produced by Halton Arp. Its irregular shape is thought to be the result of a violent collision with another galaxy sometime in the past. The collision could also be held responsible for the formation of the galaxy?s polar ring.

The outer ring surrounding the galaxy consists of gas and stars and rotates over the poles of the galaxy. It is thought that the orbit of the smaller of the two galaxies that created Arp 230 was perpendicular to the disk of the second, larger galaxy when they collided. In the process of merging the smaller galaxy would have been ripped apart and may have formed the polar ring structure astronomers can observe today.

Arp 230 is quite small for a lenticular galaxy, so the two original galaxies forming it must both have been smaller than the Milky Way. A lenticular galaxy is a galaxy with a prominent central bulge and a disk, but no clear spiral arms. They are classified as intermediate between an elliptical galaxy and a spiral galaxy.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day

Satellites Spot Fields Idled by Drought
30 Jan 2015

Satellites Spot Fields Idled by Drought
Analysis of Landsat and MODIS data shows where agricultural production has been affected by the continuing drought in California.

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News Photos
News and Features - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Astronomers Discover Ancient System with Five Small Planets
28 Jan 2015

Kepler-444 Planetary System

The star system Kepler-444 is the oldest known to host terrestrial-sized planets.

ESA Top Multimedia

IXV during fairing encapsulation
29 Jan 2015

The IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, installed on its payload adapter, is being prepared for launch, at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 28 January 2015.

IXV will be launched 320 km into space on top of a Vega rocket, VV04, climbing up to 420 km before beginning a long glide back through the atmosphere. In the process, IXV will gather data on reentry conditions to help guide the design of future spaceplanes.

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Height of Bangladesh mangrove
30 Jan 2015

Information on mangrove forest height can be used to estimate biomass, which is extremely important for climate studies and as an energy source in developing countries. The image of mangrove forest in Bangladesh is based on data from the German TanDEM-X satellite and Polarimetric InSAR techniques. Read more: Mapping forest structure from space

Philae above the comet?
30 Jan 2015

Rosetta?s OSIRIS wide-angle camera captured this view of Comet 67P/Churyumov?Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014 at 17:18 GMT (onboard spacecraft time). Marked is what the OSIRIS team believe to be the Philae lander above the rim of the large depression ? named Hatmehit ? on the comet?s small lobe. The image has been used to guide subsequent lander search efforts, and provides the basis for trajectory reconstructions.


30 Jan 2015

The Mediterranean Sea?s most mountainous island, Corsica, dominates this image from the Landsat-8 satellite.

About 40% of the island?s surface area is dedicated to nature reserves, and its mountains are a popular destination for hiking. For beachgoers, the island boasts over 1000 km of coastline. 

Near the northeastern coast we can see the island?s largest coastal lagoon, the Etang de Biguglia. This nature reserve has been noted for its support of numerous breeding and wintering waterbirds, as well as the vulnerable Hermann?s tortoise and long-fingered bat.

This lagoon is one of the over 2000 sites worldwide considered to be wetlands of international importance by the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty for the sustainable use of wetlands. World Wetlands Day is observed on 2 February, the anniversary of the signing of the Convention.

ESA has been assisting the Ramsar Convention for a decade through the GlobWetland project, which provides satellite data to be used to monitor these precious resources. The next phase of the project, called GlobWetland Africa, will collaborate closely with ESA?s TIGER initiative, which trains African water authorities and researchers in exploiting satellite data and Earth observation technology for sustainable water resource management.

The Etang de Biguglia is not the island?s only Ramsar site: further inland in the central-north part of the island is an active raised bog, home to a number of protected bat, reptile, bird and amphibian species.

Other Ramsar sites on the island are two more coastal lagoons about halfway down the east coast, and a series of temporary pools in the south. These pools in the semi-arid granitic landscape are an uncommon geomorphological phenomenon in the region supporting a diversity of rare species.

Over the water in the upper-left section of the image we can see condensation trails, or 'contrails', from aircraft or ships.

Contrails form when exhaust particles act as nuclei around which water condenses, resulting in elongated cloud-like trails that can last anywhere from minutes to hours. They can also form persistent artificial cirrus clouds that can last for days or weeks, and can affect Earth?s climate by trapping heat in our atmosphere.

This image, also featured on the Earth from Space video programme, was captured by Landsat-8 on 29 August 2014.

Hubble image of NGC 7714
29 Jan 2015

NGC 7714 is a spiral galaxy 100 million light-years from Earth ? a relatively close neighbour in cosmic terms.

The galaxy has witnessed some violent and dramatic events in its recent past. Tell-tale signs of this brutality can be seen in NGC 7714's strangely shaped arms, and in the smoky golden haze that stretches out from the galactic centre ? caused by an ongoing merger with its smaller galactic companion NGC 7715, which is off the top of the frame of this image.

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