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Io and Callisto Mutual Event

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Hubble picture of the day
STScI Astronomer Margaret Meixner Elected AAAS Fellow
24 Nov 2014

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Council has elected Margaret Meixner of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and 401 other AAAS members as Fellows of AAAS. Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

RedOrbit Images Of The Day - Earth

Anvil on the Horizon
26 Nov 2014
Anvil on the Horizon
While in orbit over Papua New Guinea, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photograph of a large thunderhead at sunset. The cloud was near the horizon, more than 1500 kilometers (900 miles) west of the spacecraft, likely over northern Australia or the Gulf of Carpentaria.

With enough convective energy, clouds in the lowest layer of the atmosphere?the troposphere?can rise until they bump up against the stable overlying layer. When they reach that point, they spread sideways, making a thin upper zone shaped like an anvil. Knowing the focal length of the camera lens, as well as the cloud?s position near the horizon, we can derive that the anvil pictured above measures approximately 200 kilometers across. In this view backlit by the bright atmosphere, there are no signs of rain falling from most of the cloud.

The warm colors of the troposphere (compared with the blues above) can be attributed to dust and other particulates that reflect red and yellow wavelengths. Astronauts often comment on the thinness of the Earth?s life-supporting envelope, and how it suggests the fragility of our planetary ecosystem. They also note that the number of atmospheric layers they can detect with their eyes is much greater than what their photographs show.

Astronaut photograph ISS041-E-105277 was acquired on October 30, 2014, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 200 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 41 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs at NASA-JSC and Mark Matney, NASA-JSC.

Credit: NASA

RedOrbit Images Of The Day - Mars

Alexander Hills
26 Nov 2014
Alexander Hills
This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA\'s Curiosity Mars rover shows a swath of bedrock called \"Alexander Hills,\" which the rover approached for close-up inspection of selected targets.

The mosaic of six Mastcam frames covers an area about 6 feet (2 meters) across. It shows details within the workspace accessible using the rover\'s robotic arm from the rover\'s location when the view was acquired. The component exposures were taken on Nov. 23, 2014, during the 817th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity\'s work on Mars. The color has been approximately white-balanced to resemble how the scene would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth.

This annotated version shows the location of three targets selected for study -- \"Aztec,\" \"Agate Hill\" and \"Cajon\" -- and a 50-centimeter (20-inch) scale bar.

The location of Alexander Hills within the \"Pahrump Hills\" outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp is indicated on an earlier Mastcam view at

> Annotated version

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

RedOrbit Images Of The Day - Universe

Smudge Across the Sky
26 Nov 2014
Smudge Across the Sky
The galaxy cutting dramatically across the frame of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a slightly warped dwarf galaxy known as UGC 1281. Seen here from an edge-on perspective, this galaxy lies roughly 18 million light-years away in the constellation of Triangulum (The Triangle).

The bright companion to the lower left of UGC 1281 is the small galaxy PGC 6700, officially known as 2MASX J01493473+3234464. Other prominent stars belonging to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and more distant galaxies can be seen scattered throughout the sky.

The side-on view we have of UGC 1281 makes it a perfect candidate for studies into how gas is distributed within galactic halos ? the roughly spherical regions of diffuse gas extending outwards from a galaxy?s center. Astronomers have studied this galaxy to see how its gas vertically extends out from its central plane, and found it to be a quite typical dwarf galaxy. However, it does have a slightly warped shape to its outer edges, and is forming stars at a particularly low rate.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble\'s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Luca Limatola.

> Luca Limatola\'s Hidden Treasures entry on Flickr

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day

Drought Persists in the American Southwest
27 Nov 2014

Drought Persists in the American Southwest
More than 64 million people are directly affected by drought in the Southwest and Southern Plains, and far more are indirectly affected because of the vast number of farms, orchards, and ranches that supply the rest of the United States.

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News and Features - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA Seeks Comments on Possible Airship Challenge
25 Nov 2014

Artist's concept for a high-altitude

NASA is considering issuing a challenge for developing stratospheric airships that can break records for duration of flight at high altitudes.

ESA Top Multimedia

Expedition 42/43 crew members dressed in their Russian Sokol suit
24 Nov 2014

Expedition 42/43 crew members Terry Virts of NASA, Roscosmos commander Anton Shkaplerov, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti before having their Russian Sokol suit pressure checked in preparation for the launch, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 23 November 2014.

On this mission, Samantha is flying as an ESA astronaut for Italy?s ASI space agency under a special agreement between ASI and NASA.

Amazing in space
25 Nov 2014

After a textbook launch and docking on Sunday night, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Roscosmos commander Anton Shkaplerov boarded the International Space Station.

This image taken by Terry of Samantha was Samantha?s first Tweet from space, with the comment: ?Amazing being in space, better than anything I ever imagined. Saw my first sunrise from the Cupola today!?

The three astronauts have about a week to get used to floating around their new surroundings before taking on a full schedule of science and maintenance for the rest of their six-month mission.

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