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Red Giant

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  1. This is the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. The panorama was made from thumbnail versions of images taken by the Mast Camera. Scientists will take a closer look at several splotches in the foreground that appear gray. These areas show the effects of the descent stage's rocket engines blasting the ground. What appeared as a dark strip of dunes in previous, black-and-white pictures from Curiosity can be seen along the top of this mosaic, but the color images also reveal additional shades of reddish brown around the dunes, likely indicating different textures or materials. The images were taken on Aug. 9, 2012, by the 34-millimeter Mast Camera. This panorama mosaic was made of 130 images of 144 by 144 pixels each. Selected full frames from this panorama, which are 1,200 by 1,200 pixels each, are expected to be transmitted to Earth later. The images in this panorama were brightened in the processing. Mars only receives half the sunlight Earth does and this image was taken in the late Martian afternoon. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/675330main_panorama_516-387.jpg
  2. This Picasso-like self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity rover was taken by its navigation cameras, located on the now-upright mast. The camera snapped pictures 360-degrees around the rover, while pointing down at the rover deck, up and straight ahead. Those images are shown here in a polar projection. Most of the tiles are thumbnails, or small copies of the full-resolution images that have not been sent back to Earth yet. Two of the tiles are full-resolution. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/675128main_image_2331_516-387.jpg
  3. These are the first two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover, which are located on the rover's "head" or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground. The topography of the rim is very mountainous due to erosion. The ground seen in the middle shows low-relief scarps and plains. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover's descent stage thrusters. These are full-resolution images, 1024 by 1024 pixels in size. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/674894main_pia16013-43_516-387.jpg
  4. This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface of Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The image was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI and shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft. It was obtained two and one-half minutes before touching down on the surface of Mars and about three seconds after heat shield separation. It is among the first color images Curiosity sent back from Mars. The resolution of all of the MARDI frames is reduced by a factor of eight in order for them to be promptly received on Earth during this early phase of the mission. Full resolution (1,600 by 1,200 pixel) images will be returned to Earth over the next several months as Curiosity begins its scientific exploration of Mars. The original image from MARDI has been geometrically corrected to look flat. Curiosity landed inside of a crater known as Gale Crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/673894main_PIA15988-43_516-387.jpg
  5. This is one of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on the morning of Aug. 6, 2012. It was taken through a fisheye wide-angle lens on the left "eye" of a stereo pair of Hazard-Avoidance cameras on the left-rear side of the rover. The image is one-half of full resolution. The clear dust cover that protected the camera during landing has been sprung open. Part of the spring that released the dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover's wheel. On the top left, part of the rover's power supply is visible. Some dust appears on the lens even with the dust cover off. The cameras are looking directly into the sun, so the top of the image is saturated. Looking straight into the sun does not harm the cameras. The lines across the top are an artifact called "blooming" that occurs in the camera's detector because of the saturation. As planned, the rover's early engineering images are lower resolution. Larger color images from other cameras are expected later in the week when the rover's mast, carrying high-resolution cameras, is deployed. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/673582main_image_2387_516-387.jpg
  6. Bill Nye, known as the Science Guy, takes a photograph of himself with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver at the Planetary Society's 2012 Planetfest on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 in Pasadena, Calif. Garver is visiting Pasadena, home of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ahead of Curiosity's landing on Mars, scheduled for 1:31 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, 2012. Curiosity is designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support life. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/673348main_garver_nye_516-387.jpg
  7. NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver talks to participants during a NASA Social to preview the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Pasadena, Calif. Curiosity is designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support life. Curiosity's landing on the Red Planet is scheduled for 1:31 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, 2012. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/673314main_image2324_516-387.jpg
  8. This image shows the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy in infrared light from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency-led mission, and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Considered dwarf galaxies compared to the big spiral of the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are the two biggest satellite galaxies of our home galaxy. In combined data from Herschel and Spitzer, the irregular distribution of dust in the Small Magellanic Cloud becomes clear. A stream of dust extends to the left in this image, known as the galaxy's "wing," and a bar of star formation appears on the right. The colors in this image indicate temperatures in the dust that permeates the Cloud. Colder regions show where star formation is at its earliest stages or is shut off, while warm expanses point to new stars heating surrounding dust. The coolest areas and objects appear in red, corresponding to infrared light taken up by Herschel's Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver at 250 microns, or millionths of a meter. Herschel's Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer fills out the mid-temperature bands, shown here in green, at 100 and 160 microns. The warmest spots appear in blue, courtesy of 24- and 70-micron data from Spitzer. Image Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/673026main_image_2323_516-387.jpg
  9. John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, was a guest on the Colbert Report on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, where he discussed the upcoming Curiosity Mars rover landing. The landing will occur on Monday morning at 1:31 a.m. EDT. Image Credit: Courtesy of the Colbert Report http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/672573main_colbert_grunsfeld_1600_516-387.jpg
  10. The Hubble Space Telescope captured a crowd of stars that looks rather like a stadium darkened before a show, lit only by the flashbulbs of the audience?s cameras. Yet the many stars of this object, known as Messier 107, are not a fleeting phenomenon, at least by human reckoning of time -- these ancient stars have gleamed for many billions of years.,br /> Messier 107 is one of more than 150 globular star clusters found around the disc of the Milky Way galaxy. These spherical collections each contain hundreds of thousands of extremely old stars and are among the oldest objects in the Milky Way. The origin of globular clusters and their impact on galactic evolution remains somewhat unclear, so astronomers continue to study them.,br /> Messier 107 can be found in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer) and is located about 20,000 light-years from our solar system.,br /> French astronomer Pierre M?chain first noted the object in 1782, and British astronomer William Herschel documented it independently a year later. A Canadian astronomer, Helen Sawyer Hogg, added Messier 107 to Charles Messier's famous astronomical catalogue in 1947.,br /> This picture was obtained with the Wide Field Camera of Hubble?s Advanced Camera for Surveys. ,br /> Image credit: ESA/NASA http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/672305main_image_2321_516-387.jpg
  11. More than fifty years ago, a supernova was discovered in M83, a spiral galaxy about 15 million light years from Earth. Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make the first detection of X-rays emitted by the debris from this explosion. Named SN 1957D because it was the fourth supernova to be discovered in the year 1957, it is one of only a few located outside of the Milky Way galaxy that is detectable, in both radio and optical wavelengths, decades after its explosion was observed. In 1981, astronomers saw the remnant of the exploded star in radio waves, and then in 1987 they detected the remnant at optical wavelengths, years after the light from the explosion itself became undetectable. A relatively short observation -- about 14 hours long -- from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in 2000 and 2001 did not detect any X-rays from the remnant of SN 1957D. However, a much longer observation obtained in 2010 and 2011, totaling nearly 8 and 1/2 days of Chandra time, did reveal the presence of X-ray emission. The X-ray brightness in 2000 and 2001 was about the same as or lower than in this deep image. This new Chandra image of M83 is one of the deepest X-ray observations ever made of a spiral galaxy beyond our own. This full-field view of the spiral galaxy shows the low, medium, and high-energy X-rays observed by Chandra in red, green, and blue respectively. The new X-ray data from the remnant of SN 1957D provide important information about the nature of this explosion that astronomers think happened when a massive star ran out of fuel and collapsed. The distribution of X-rays with energy suggests that SN 1957D contains a neutron star, a rapidly spinning, dense star formed when the core of pre-supernova star collapsed. This neutron star, or pulsar, may be producing a cocoon of charged particles moving at close to the speed of light known as a pulsar wind nebula. If this interpretation is confirmed, the pulsar in SN 1957D is observed at an age of 55 years, one of the youngest pulsars ever seen. The remnant of SN 1979C in the galaxy M100 contains another candidate for the youngest pulsar, but astronomers are still unsure whether there is a black hole or a pulsar at the center of SN 1979C. Image Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/STScI/K.Long et al., Optical: NASA/STScI http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/671764main_image_2320_516-387.jpg
  12. This diagram illustrates the differences between orbits of a typical near-Earth asteroid (blue) and a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA (orange). PHAs are a subset of the near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and have the closest orbits to Earth's orbit, coming within 5 million miles (about 8 million kilometers). They also are large enough to survive passage through Earth's atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale. Our yellow sun sits at the center of the crowd, while the orbits of the planets Mercury, Venus and Mars are shown in grey. Earth's orbit stands out in green between Venus and Mars. As the diagram indicates, the PHAs tend to have more Earth-like orbits than the rest of the NEAs. The asteroid orbits are simulations of what a typical object's path around the sun might look like. The dots in the background are based on data from NASA's NEOWISE, the asteroid-hunting portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, which scanned the whole sky twice in infrared light before entering hibernation mode in 2011. The blue and orange dots represent a simulation of the population of near-Earth asteroids and PHAs, respectively, which are larger than 330 feet (100 meters). NEOWISE has provided the best overall look at the PHA population yet, refining estimates of their numbers, sizes, types of orbits and potential hazards. The NEOWISE team estimates that about 20 to 30 percent of the PHAs thought to exist have actually been discovered as may 2012, the date of this image. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/671501main_image_2319_516-387.jpg
  13. The Cassini spacecraft watches a pair of Saturn's moons, showing the hazy orb of giant Titan beyond smaller Tethys. This view looks toward the Saturn-facing sides of Titan (3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers across) and Tethys (660 miles, or 1,062 kilometers across). The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 18, 2010. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 55 degrees. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Tethys and at a Sun-Tethys-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 55 degrees. Image scale is 15 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Titan and 6 miles (9 kilometers) per pixel on Tethys. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/671315main_image_2318_516-387.jpg
  14. The Flame Nebula sits on the eastern hip of Orion the Hunter, a constellation most easily visible in the northern hemisphere during winter evenings. This view of the nebula was taken by WISE, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. This image shows a vast cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born. Three familiar nebulae are visible in the central region: the Flame Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula and NGC 2023. The Flame Nebula is the brightest and largest in the image. It is lit by a star inside it that is 20 times the mass of the sun and would be as bright to our eyes as the other stars in Orion's belt if it weren't for all the surrounding dust, which makes it appear 4 billion times dimmer than it actually is. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/670963main_image_2317_516-387.jpg
  15. As Olympic athletes converge on London with dreams of winning gold in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, NASA is also setting records while testing the J-2X powerpack at the Stennis Space Center. The first time was June 8, when engineers went the distance and set the Test Complex A record with a 1,150-second firing of the developmental powerpack assembly. On July 24, engineers surpassed that record with a 1,350-second test of the engine component on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis. The powerpack is a system of components on the top portion of the J-2X engine. On the complete J-2X engine, the powerpack feeds the thrust chamber, which produces the engine fire and thrust. The advantage of testing the powerpack without the thrust chamber is to operate over a wide range of conditions to understand safe limits. The July 24 test specifically gathered data on performance of the liquid oxygen and fuel pumps during extreme conditions. The test data provides critical information for continued development of the turbopump for use on the J-2X engine, the first human-rated liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen rocket engine to be developed in four decades. The J-2X is being built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for NASA?s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The J-2X engine will power the upper-stage of a planned two-stage Space Launch System, or SLS. The SLS will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads, and provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Designed to be safe, affordable and flexible for crew and cargo missions, the SLS will continue America's journey of discovery and exploration to destinations including nearby asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and ultimately, Mars. Image Credit: NASA/SSC http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/670694main_SSC-2012-01041_cropped_516-387.jpg