News From Our Blog

Image description: Flying Frog!
From NASA: 

A still camera on a sound trigger captured this intriguing photo of an airborne frog as NASA’s LADEE spacecraft lifts off from Pad 0B at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The photo team confirms the frog is real and was captured in a single frame by one of the remote cameras used to photograph the launch. The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain.

Image from NASA

Image description: Flying Frog!

From NASA: 

A still camera on a sound trigger captured this intriguing photo of an airborne frog as NASA’s LADEE spacecraft lifts off from Pad 0B at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The photo team confirms the frog is real and was captured in a single frame by one of the remote cameras used to photograph the launch. The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain.

Image from NASA

Happy Birthday, Curiosity!

Video description

NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrated its Martian birthday on August 5 (PDT), the day that it landed on Mars. In honor of this special ocassion, engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center used the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to “sing” Happy Birthday to Curiosity.

You can help Curiosity celebrate its first birthday too by sending it a postcard, learning about landing on Mars and more.

Video transcript

My name is Florence Tan, I’m the SAM Electrical Lead Engineer, I work at Goddard Space Flight Center. SAM stands for Sample Analysis at Mars. It is an organic chemistry lab on the Curiosity rover, it is the most well-equipped chemistry lab that we’ve sent to Mars to date.

Curiosity landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. It was born on Mars that day, and so we consider that day as its birthday.

We’re here at the test bed lab where SAM was built. It is an identical unit to the unit on Mars, and we use this unit to test our experiments before it is transmitted to Mars.

SAM will be running some great science experiments on Mars, we will be analyzing some soil samples. To make the soil samples go down, we have to program it to vibrate at various frequencies. When we’re introducing a sample into SAM, it will go through a resonance and it will sound like this.

[ electronic tone ]

To commemorate SAM’s birthday and Curiosity’s birthday on Mars, we decided to play a little song. If there’s anyone listening on Mars on this special occasion, you will hear this.

[ Happy Birthday to You ]

It’s really neat, and it’s exciting! This is a first for NASA and for the world, and music brings us all together so this is fun!

It’s been a great year on Mars and I cannot wait to get to Mount Sharp next year. We’ve discovered so many new things, and there’s still lots more discoveries to come.

Image description: This is an animation of the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), eight days after a record-setting solar flare sent a shower of charged particles towards Earth. From Earth, this glowing ring would appear as a curtain of light shimmering across the night sky. Image captured by NASA IMAGE satellite courtesy of NASA Space Place.

Image description: This is an animation of the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), eight days after a record-setting solar flare sent a shower of charged particles towards Earth. From Earth, this glowing ring would appear as a curtain of light shimmering across the night sky.

Image captured by NASA IMAGE satellite courtesy of NASA Space Place.

Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon

Video description

July 20th is the anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong saying his famous phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

This video shows clips from the historic moon landing.

Video transcript

Base: 15 seconds guidance is internal. 12, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence starts, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. All engines running. We have liftoff.

Astronaut Voice: Drifting to the right a little. Contact light. Ok, engine stop. The Eagle has landed.

Base: We copy you on the ground.

Announcer: Armstrong is on the moon. 38-year-old American, standing on the surface of the moon. On this July 20, 1969.

Armstrong: That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for man kind.

Astronaut voice: That looks beautiful. It’s different, but it’s very pretty.

Astronauts talking.

Base: You’re cleared for take off.

Astronaut: We’re number one on the runway…7, 6, 5…very quiet ride.

What are Meteors and When Can You See Them?

image

Image description: Perseid meteor shower. Photo from NASA.

These days, there’s a holiday for everything… Even meteors!

Each year, June 30 marks Meteor Day, a celebration of the celestial bodies that light up the night sky, colloquially known as shooting stars or falling stars. In essence, a meteor is debris from outer space that enters the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a streak of light visible to the naked eye. The average meteoroid is the size of a pebble, and 15,000 tons enter the Earth’s atmosphere per day. Only a few of those reach the surface, though, and they are then referred to as meteorites.

The first anecdotal account of a meteor shower dates back to 902 AD, an early sighting of the Leonid meteor shower, scientists believe. Chinese astronomers recalled the sighting - “stars fell like rain” - and reports continued centuries afterward. The Leonid meteor shower comes to this day, appearing especially brightly every 33 years.

More recently, a meteor was sighted in the skies near Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15. The Russian sighting was the largest reported meteor since 1908. Before hitting the Earth’s atmosphere, it measured 49 feet and had a mass of around 7,000 tons!

Meteors don’t only reach Earth, though - they also can have a lunar impact, meaning they collide with our moon. For the past 8 years, NASA has been monitoring meteoroids that hit the lunar surface, and on March 17, it observed the biggest explosion in the history of the program. It was described as “nearly ten times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before,” and for one second, NASA reports that the impact site flowed like a 4th magnitude star.

With a little luck, meteors are visible any night of the year, but they are most easily sighted during a meteor shower. Perhaps the best meteor shower, the Perseid meteor shower, is visible every August.

To learn more about what the month of June held in terms of celestial sightings, watch NASA’s video, “What’s Up for June 2013,” or visit their website.