Tagged: NASA

Video of Earth at night is better than any movie

It’s not clear to me why NASA doesn’t create videos like these themselves, but whatever the reason, dedicated space fans aren’t allowing the video vacuum to exist for long. This gorgeous timelapse video of the Earth at night as seen from the ISS, is proof that reality can be every bit as breathtaking as what Hollywood can dream up. Do yourself a favour and watch it in fullscreen mode – you’ll be glad you did.

From the creator, Knate Myers:

Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS.
I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas.

Music by John Murphy – Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)

Image Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory,
NASA Johnson Space Center, The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

For more great NASA-resourced timelaspe videos, check out the NASA timelapse club on Vimeo.


Spectacular photos and video of a solar flare

Awesome isn’t it?

That’s what our sun looks like when it goes through a fairly regular occurrence: a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). CMEs are often associated with solar flares – some of which end up heading straight for Earth where they can create stunning enhancements of Aurora Borealis and can also play havoc with our orbiting satellites and electrical infrastructure.

That was not the case however on Monday, April 16th, when this particular CME was recorded by NASA’s SDO satellite-based solar observatory.

The flare produced by this CME headed off in another direction, which is likely why we have such spectacular imagery to look at.

NASA classified the flare as an M1 – a medium sized flare.

Check out more images and a video below…

(All images and video credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

Hitch a ride on Endeavour's last flight

After the tragedy of space shuttle Columbia’s disintegration on re-entry back in 2003, NASA became understandably obsessed with being able to see their orbiters from as many angles as possible, at least throughout the critical launch phase. This was the period of time during which a chunk of insulating foam broke off Columbia’s external fuel tank, ultimately leading to the damaged heat tiles that caused the unforgettable incident.

And while that moment in NASA’s history is one of the saddest, it has lead to this moment: thanks to their heightened awareness of launch complications, NASA now records these events from a variety of angles.

On Endeavour’s last flight, and the second-to-last shuttle flight ever, NASA installed cameras on Endeavour’s solid rocket boosters. These cameras give four points of view: looking up (toward the shuttle’s nose), looking down (toward the shuttle’s tail), looking toward the external fuel tank and looking up from inside the nose-cone of the booster – a view which only comes into play once the three chutes have been deployed.

For NASA, this footage represents invaluable safety and performance data. For us, it’s a chance to ride along on one of the most amazing human inventions ever made.

As you watch, keep in mind, this is 36 minutes of video compiled from both of the solid boosters as well as a camera aboard Endeavour. While it’s fun to watch the whole thing, here are some highlights:

0:16 – Lift-off as seen from the downward-facing camera

2:25 – solid rocket booster separation as seen from the downward-facing camera

6:50 – Splashdown of solid rocket booster as seen from the downward-facing camera

7:40 – Lift-off as seen from the upward-facing camera

9:38 – solid rocket booster separation as seen from the upward-facing camera

14:50 – solid rocket booster separation as seen from the inter-tank camera

18:50 – deployment of the three drag chutes as seen from inside the nose-cone

19:16 – splashdown as seen from inside the nose-cone

The remainder of the video is essentially these same moments viewed from other angles. But it’s all spectacular. Enjoy!

The Photopic Sky Survey: One man captures the cosmos

A zoomed-in detail from the Sky Survey. Image credit: Nick Risinger, skysurvey.org, click for full-size.

Ever wonder what drives someone to undertake an enormous challenge? I sure do. I wonder what drives people to climb mountains, run across deserts or swim vast tracts of ocean. Frankly, most of the time I’m suspicious of their level of sanity. That’s because the only way you’ll ever get me to run any distance is to set a pack of wild dogs on me.

I’ll never really understand what pushes them – these incredible feats of physical endurance can only be accomplished through a personal determination that few of us can relate to.

And as impressed – and often awed – as I am by these exploits, I’m also somewhat saddened that there are only two products of these kinds of monumental endeavours: a deep sense of personal achievement for the person who completed the effort (and anyone who helped them) and – not to be underestimated – the inspiration their success provides others.

But sometimes, a monumental effort can lead to an enduring legacy that can be shared by all. The Photopic Sky Survey is a great example.

The Survey is a 5,000 megapixel photo of the entire night sky and the largest, all-sky, true-colour survey of the visible universe ever created. It exists online and can be viewed from any angle, with or without an overlay of constellations and major stars and nebulae.  And it was done by one man – with a little help from his dad.

Go ahead, check out Nick Risinger’s work, I’ll wait.

Prepping the cameras for a night of shooting in Colorado. Image credit Nick Risinger, skysurvey.org, click for full-size.

The Survey was brought to my attention by a colleague, who simply sent me an email with a link to the interactive page. He didn’t give me any background or other info. Just the link.

My immediate thought was, wow, I just love that organizations like NASA or the European Space Agency pull together images from the Hubble Space Telescope or other multi-million dollar observation platforms and compile it in such a way that we can zoom all over the starry skies with nothing more than our laptops. Ain’t science awesome?

But shortly after that I clicked the “about” link, and that’s when my jaw dropped.

This gorgeous and humbling experience wasn’t created by any government-funded scientific organization, or even by a well-endowed private think-tank. It was assembled, as a labour of love, by a single person with a personal determination that few of us can relate to.

The hundreds (thousands?) of hours it took Mr. Risinger to complete his task, the endless nights he spent monitoring the progress of his equipment as the custom-built camera rig traced the passage of stars across the sky, capturing photons that had been travelling billions of years before reaching earth – you can read about all of this on his site. It’s nothing short of amazing.

Thanks Nick Risinger. Your incredible effort has left an enduring legacy that can be shared by all.

Now, Nick I hate to sound ungrateful, but any chance you could make it iPad compatible? It was meant for that device. :-)

NASA captures a giant solar flare

I know this not really a gadgets story, but something this cool just has to be shared. NASA’s SDO spacecraft, designed to take extremely high-resolution images of our sun recently captured this incredible footage of a very large solar flare. Here’s the description from NASA:

When a rather large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period (Feb. 24, 2011). This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft . Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Because SDO images are super-HD, we can zoom in on the action and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless. Sit back and enjoy the jaw-dropping solar show.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thanks to Gizmodo for turning us on to it.

[NASA Goddard on Flickr via Gizmodo]