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Specular Spectacular: During its mission, our Cassini spacecraft captured the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas, seen in this near-infrared, color mosaic from August 21, 2014. The sunglint, also called a specular reflection, is the bright area near the 11 o'clock position at upper left. This mirror-like reflection, known as the specular point, is in the south of Titan's largest sea, Kraken Mare, just north of an island archipelago separating two separate parts of the sea. The southern portion of Kraken Mare displays a "bathtub ring" -- a bright margin of evaporate deposits -- which indicates that the sea was larger at some point in the past and has become smaller due to evaporation. The deposits are material left behind after the methane & ethane liquid evaporates, somewhat akin to the saline crust on a salt flat.
Gaze in awe: An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (@ISS) snapped this image of the South Indian Ocean as the station flew 265 miles above the cloudy formation. The off-world laboratory orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes and helps us prepare for deep space exploration. The astronaut crews conduct experiments about Earth, space and the physical and biological sciences, benefitting people living on our home planet and future explorers. As a testbed for deep space exploration, the station is helping us learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrating technologies for human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.
Astronaut Christina Koch (@astro_christina) recently took this photo of a moonrise over the atmosphere from the International Space Station (@iss). Koch just received news this week that instead of returning to Earth this October, she will remain in orbit until February 2020, which will set a new record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. The previous mark of 288 days was set by our Peggy Whitson.
Up, up and away.
@NorthropGrumman's #Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station (@ISS) with about 7,600 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching on an Antares rocket on Wednesday, April 17, from @NASAWallops in Virginia.
The scientific research on board includes a bio-analyzer, a new carbon monitor and a fleet of small robots called Astrobees.
Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
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🚀🚀🚀 A @NorthropGrumman#Antares rocket carrying a #Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen on Tuesday, April 16 during sunrise on Pad-0A at @NASAWallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Set to launch on Wednesday, April 17 at 4:46 p.m. EDT, this will be the company's 11th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (@ISS) to deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls #Launch#Rocket#NASA#LaunchPad
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Coating the night sky like sprinkles on an ice cream scoop, this globular cluster contains an incredible half-million stars! This 8-billion-year-old cosmic bauble called Messier 3 is one of the largest and brightest globular clusters ever discovered, seen here in a @NASAHubble image. What makes Messier 3 extra special is its unusually large population of variable stars — stars that fluctuate in brightness over time. New variable stars continue to be discovered in this sparkling stellar nest to this day, but so far, we know of 274, the highest number found in any globular cluster by far.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al.
Double the rocket, double the beauty! 😍 On April 5, we successfully launched two sounding rockets from Norway that reached 200 miles in altitude before returning back to Earth. Carrying scientific instruments to studying the energy exchange within an aurora, the launch of these rockets created colorful clouds that allow researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles with the auroral wind.
Image Credit: NASA/Lee Wingfield
It's not another world. It's Earth and it's the "Eye of the Sahara." 👁️From an altitude of 255 miles, a crewmember on the International Space Station (@ISS) photographed the Richat Structure in northwestern Mauritania. The circular geologic feature is thought to be caused by an uplifted dome—geologists would classify it as a domed anticline—that has been eroded to expose the originally flat rock layers.
Infused with swaths of red, blue and yellow, this infrared image of Jupiter’s atmosphere reveals that solar wind has a strong influence on the planet. Within just a day of solar wind hitting Jupiter, scientists observed the chemistry in its atmosphere changing and its temperature rising.
In a historic feat by the Event Horizon Telescope and National Science Foundation (@NSFgov), an image of a black hole and its shadow has been captured for the first time. Several of our missions were part of a large effort to observe the same black hole using different wavelengths of light and collect data to understand the black hole's environment. Here's a look at @NASAChandraXRay Observatory's close-up of the core of the M87 galaxy and the black hole at the center of it.
Shimmering like gems strewn across the sky, this cluster of stars is one of the largest of its kind. 🌟
Messier 2 is a spherical group of stars tightly bound together by gravity. The globular cluster is populated with 150,000 stars and is located 55,000 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius. It is captured by the one and only @NASAHubble.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al.