The six-sided weather pattern currently sitting atop the planet’s north pole, which contains a gigantic hurricane - has been raging since 1981.
This amazing reentry fireworks was observed from the International Space Station on 2 November at 12:04 GMT. We can see European Space Agency’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, disintegrating and burning up in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean, in the most spectacular way, after it left the International Space Station a week earlier with 1.6 tonnes of waste.
Source of gif: ESA/NASA
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Solar flare marathon may continue
Over the last week, 28 solar flares have exploded on the sun, a quick turn of events from the star, which has been relatively quiet during this period of the sun’s activity cycle.
But there’s little cause for concern, as reporter Deborah Netburn assures:
The good news is that none of the rapid-fire solar flares of the last week have had much effect on life on Earth. Our atmosphere protects us from the sun’s occasional powerful bursts of light and radiation, but solar flares do occasionally interact with our communications systems. The radiation can mess with an upper layer in our atmosphere called the ionosphere and cause radio signals to act funky.
But that doesn’t stop the flares from looking pretty awesome, as you can see above.
Space shuttle Endeavour’s final flight
A little more than a year ago, the Endeavour’s last mission was carried out: A 12-mile trek through the streets of Los Angeles before arriving at its new home at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center. Thousands turned out to see the shuttle before it was transitioned into a record-setting attraction at the museum.
Photos: Gary Friedman, Al Seib, Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times, Jim Ross / NASA
Just a few days after Voyager 1 left Earth in 1977, L.A. Times columnist Jack Smith wrote:
A new spacecraft called Voyager, we are told, is on its way to the stars with a two-hour phonograph of earth sounds and a video machine with 115 photographs.
Someday, if there are any…
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Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system
It may have taken 36 years of coasting through space, but the Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered interstellar space, becoming the first man-made probe to reach that far-off realm.
The scientific community has been debating whether Voyager had already left for some time now, but it wasn’t until today that NASA was confident enough to made the estimate official.
Lead author Don Gurnett, an Iowa State plasma physicist and a Voyager project scientist, said the data showed conclusively that Voyager 1 had exited the heliopause — the bubble of hot, energetic particles that surrounds our sun and planets — and entered into a region of cold, dark space called the interstellar medium.
NASA’s rocket frog
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you - that’s a frog flying off into the distance as the LADEE spacecraft launches at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Confirmed to be the real deal by the agency’s photo team, the frog’s current condition is unknown. But at the very least, it joins the pantheon of airborne amphibians:
Today L.A. Times Past launches a series of occasional guest posts, written by people who have a connection to a historical event relevant to Southern California. We start with Julie Webster of JPL, seen above. In 2004 she was the flight director of the Cassini mission, which was about to…
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July 29, 1958: NASA is Created
On this day in 1958, the United States Congress passed legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since its creation, NASA has played a vital role in coordinating all of the US’ activity in space. The agency spearheads and sponsors space exhibitions and has launched numerous orbiting satellites that have produced information about the solar system and universe.
In recent years, many feel that NASA has experienced numerous setbacks. The most significant being the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
Celebrate NASA’s birthday with PBS NewsHour’s video of the agency’s newest vehicle “Curiosity.”
photo:Astronaut Edward H. White II’s Space Walk on Gemini IV ca.1965, (NASA)
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See that little dot in the distance? That’s Earth.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took some incredible photos of our home planet Friday, which the agency finally released yesterday.
The craft is current orbiting Saturn, as seen above, and is often unable to sneak a peek at Earth due to its relative closeness to the sun. So how did we get a hold of these stunning photos?
…on Friday, Saturn moved between Cassini and the sun, casting the spacecraft in shadow and allowing it to look back toward the inner solar system without the risk of ruining the detectors on its cameras.
Thanks to this orbital geometry, Saturn’s rings were also backlit by the sun, giving Cassini the rare opportunity to snap images of the powdery dust in Saturn’s rings in hyper-sharp detail.
Read more, and maybe let your mind be boggled by the scale of the universe, over at Science Now.
Photos: NASA / AFP/Getty Images
A planet where it rains glass. Sideways.
As ridiculous as that may sound, the Hubble space telescope has discovered HD 189733b, a blue planet 63 light-years away from Earth.
That blue color, and the aforementioned rain of glass, is theorized to be due to “high clouds laced with silicate particles.”
The silicates condense in the planet’s extreme heat — 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds of 4,500 mph hurl the small drops of glass through the atmosphere, which “scatters” the blue light.
Read more on the crazy planet over at Science Now.
Sifting through the wreckage of past aviation ruins
You’d be surprised what you can find in the vast expanse of the desert. For some so-called aerospace archeologists, a minor oddity in the landscape can signal a historic marker.
"See these rocks?" he asks. "They’re actually fragments of melted aluminum. This is the impact point where the flying wing crashed, and the crew lost their lives. Right here. This is the incident that gave Edwards Air Force Base its name."
That incident referenced by aerospace enthusiast Peter Merlin, was the 1948 crash of the YB-49 experimental bomber, which cause the death of Capt. Glen Edwards. The former Muroc Air Force Base was soon renamed after Edwards.
Merlin and fellow “X-hunters” (named after the Air Force’s penchant for X-titles for experimental planes) call the area around Edwards Air Force base a veritable “valley of kings” for its huge number of historical aerospace wrecks.
Read more in our latest Column One feature.
Photos: NASA, Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times