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Explore the universe and discover our home planet with the official NASA Instagram account

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LIFTOFF! NASA astronauts Drew Feustel (@astro_feustel) and Ricky Arnold (@astro_ricky) and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev (@Olegmks) of Roscosmos left Earth at 1:14 EDT to head toward the International Space Station (@iss).After a two-day flight, the new crew members will dock to the station’s docking module on Friday, March 23 and the new residents will begin their mission!  There are currently three people living on the space station, soon to be joined by the three crew members that launched today. While living aboard humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory, they will work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.  Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky  #nasa #space #spacestation #liftoff #launch #rocket #crew #astronaut #spacecraft #orbit #earth #research #science #launch #picoftheday
3..2..1... Fire! Rocket engine nozzles operate in extreme temperatures and pressures from the combustion process and are complex and expensive to manufacture. That is why a team of engineers at our Marshall Space Flight Center (@NASA_Marshall) developed and proved out a new 3-D printing technique for nozzle fabrication that can greatly reduce costs and development time.  This new process was developed and advanced at NASA to build a less-expensive nozzle in significantly less time. While nozzles may look simple from the outside, they are actually very complex. The new method employs a wire-based additive manufacturing process to precisely close out the nozzle coolant channels, which contain the high pressure coolant fluid that protects the walls from the high temperatures a nozzle must withstand.  Through hot-fire testing, engineers put the nozzle seen here through its paces, accumulating more than 1,040 seconds at high combustion chamber pressures and temperatures. Now, this technology is being licensed and considered in commercial applications across the industry.  Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Olive #nasa #metal #fire #ignition #rocketengine #exhaust #spacetech #technology #3dprinting #3d #rocket #rocketnozzle #nozzle #parts #tools #space #research #picoftheday #manufacturing #extremeengineering #engineering  #pictureoftheday
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle photographed blue skies over the Pacific Northwest during an International Space Station (@iss) flyover on March 17, 2018. Tingle shared the image with his followers on social media writing, "Beautiful view as we cross over the Pacific Northwest!" Currently, three people are living and working on the orbiting laboratory, conducting important science and research that will not only benefit life here on Earth, but will help us venture deeper into space than ever before.  Credit: NASA/@Astro_Maker  #nasa #space #earth #orbit #spacestation #internationalspacestation #clouds #atmosphere #ocean #water #palebluedot #home #picoftheday
This March, 110 nebulas, galaxies and star clusters, known as Messier objects, will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. To celebrate this March celestial alignment, the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble) released 12 new views of some of these objects made famous by French astronomer Charles Messier. Messier was best known for his "Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters." An avid comet-hunter, Messier compiled a catalog of deep-sky objects in order to help prevent other comet enthusiasts from wasting their time studying objects that were not comets.  Seen here is Messier 90 -- a bright, beautiful spiral galaxy situated in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, approximately 59 million light-years away from Earth. This galaxy is believed to be breaking away from the rest of the galaxies in the Virgo cluster and is one of the few galaxies traveling toward our Milky Way galaxy, not away. It contains approximately a trillion stars and was looked at by Hubble in infrared, ultraviolet and visible light.  The Messier catalog includes some of the most fascinating astronomical objects that can be observed from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. Among them are deep-sky objects that can be viewed in stunning detail using larger telescopes but are also bright enough to be seen through a small telescope. This characteristic makes Messier objects extremely popular targets for amateur astronomers possessing all levels of experience and equipment.  Whether your tool of choice is a sophisticated ground-based telescope, a decent pair of binoculars, or simply their naked eyes, observers hunting for Messier objects can use the data gathered from Hubble’s spectacular images to deepen their understanding of these 110 highlights of the night sky as they carry on the tradition of amateur astronomy.  Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, and V. Rubin (Carnegie Institution of Washington), D. Maoz (Tel Aviv University/Wise Observatory) and D. Fisher (University of Maryland) #nasa #space #hubble #spothubble
Rose-Colored Jupiter: Our Juno spacecraft captured this close-up view from February 7 of a storm with bright cloud tops in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter.  Taken during the 11th close flyby of the gas giant planet, the spacecraft was 7,578 miles (12,195 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds. Citizen scientist Matt Brealey processed the image using data from the JunoCam imager. Citizen scientist Gustavo B C then adjusted colors and embossed Matt Brealey's processing of this storm.  Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Matt Brealey/Gustavo B C #nasa #space #juno #jupiter #gasgiant #planet #clouds #swirling #pattern #solarsystem #science #spacecraft #pictureoftheday #astronomy #storm
A crab walks through time - this new composite image of the Crab Nebula uses data from our Hubble (@NASAHubble), Chandra (@chandraxray) and Spitzer space telescopes and gives new insights to this celestial object. We've learned a lot over the years about this intriguing exploded star and its pulsating core. It was one of the first objects that our Chandra X-Ray Observatory examined with its sharp X-ray vision, and it has been a frequent target of the telescope ever since.  There are many reasons that the Crab Nebula is such a well-studied object. For example, it is one of a handful of cases where there is strong historical evidence for when the star exploded. Having this definitive timeline helps astronomers understand the details of the explosion and its aftermath.  In the case of the Crab, observers in several countries reported the appearance of a “new star” in 1054 A.D. in the direction of the constellation Taurus. Much has been learned about the Crab in the centuries since then. Today, astronomers know that the Crab Nebula is powered by a quickly spinning, highly magnetized neutron star called a pulsar, which was formed when a massive star ran out of its nuclear fuel and collapsed.  The latest image of the Crab is a composite with X-rays from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (blue and white), Hubble Space Telescope (purple) and Spitzer Space Telescope (pink). The extent of the X-rays in this image is smaller than the others because extremely energetic electrons emitting X-rays radiate away their energy more quickly than the lower-energy electrons emitting optical and infrared light.  Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA-JPL-Caltech #crabnebula #chandra #hubble #spitzer #telescope #astronomy #xray #nebula #space #nasa #astronomy #science #picoftheday #pictureoftheday
Have you seen STEVE? Glowing in purple & green colors, a new celestial phenomenon, known as STEVE, is caused by charged particles from the Sun colliding with Earth's magnetic field.  The display was initially discovered by a group of citizen scientists who took pictures of the unusual lights and playfully named them "Steve." Scientists have since learned more about the purples and greens, and have given it a more accurate name: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, which can still can be shortened to STEVE.  A citizen science project called Aurorasaurus, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation (@nsfgov), wants your help gathering photos so they can learn more about this mysterious phenomenon. Aurorasaurus tracks appearances of auroras — and now STEVE — around the world through users submitting reports and photographs directly on its mobile app and on aurorasaurus.org.  Image Credit: NASA/Krista Trinder  #auroras #nasa #space #sky #nightsky #celestial #sightings #steve #newzealand #canada #citizencientists #earth #glow #purple #picoftheday #astronomy #science
There's always pi! Craters can tell scientists a lot about the surfaces of planets, moons and other bodies. Just by determining how circular a given crater is – using pi and the crater’s perimeter and area – planetary geologists can reveal clues about how the crater was formed and the surface that was impacted.  Each year across the globe, people celebrate Pi Day. On March 14 (3/14 in the month/day date format), since 3, 1, and 4, or 3.14, are the first three significant digits of π, we sing the praises of this mathematical constant. Here at NASA, whether it's sending spacecraft to other planets, driving rovers on Mars, finding out what planets are made of or how deep alien oceans are, pi takes us far. Happy Pi Day!  Image Credit: NASA  #piday #pi #π #nasa #crater #space #planet #world #terrain #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #astronomy #science #math #mathematics #school
The March morning sky offers some dazzling views of Mars and Saturn all month long. Through a telescope, you can almost make out some of the surface features on the Red Planet.  Look a little farther into Mars’ future and circle May 5 on your calendars – that’s when our InSight lander will launch to the Red Planet on a 6 month journey. During that time, Mars will be easily visible in the sky.  Keep watching Mars as it travels closer to Earth. It will be closest in late July, when the Red Planet will appear larger in apparent diameter than it has since 2003.  Credit: NASA  #credit #nasa #space #astronomy #whatsup #nightsky #sky #stargazing #solarsystem #universe #planets #stars #moon #mars #insight #lander #journey
Imprints on the surface of Mars reveal a history of flowing water. In this Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image, old stream channels, possibly more resistant to erosion because of their composition, now stand above fan-shaped deposits, each affirming the Red Planet's complex geologic past.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona  #nasa #space #mars #water #martian #surface #dark #light  #science #solarsystem #planet #picoftheday #pictureoftheday
This view of Saturn’s dramatic, icy moon Dione, aptly named for a Titaness in Greek mythology, was eyed by our Cassini spacecraft on July 23, 2012 at a distance of approximately 260,000 miles.  Dione, measuring about 698 miles across, has a density that suggests that almost a third of the moon is made up of a solid core (probably silicate rock) with the remainder of its material being water ice. At Dione's average temperature of -304 degrees Fahrenheit, ice is so hard it behaves like rock.  Astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini discovered Dione (1684) and three of Saturn’s other moons — lapetus (1671), Rhea (1672) and Tethys — as well as the large gap in Saturn's rings, now called the Cassini division. His namesake, our Cassini spacecraft, ended its more than 13 years exploring his findings and making many more with a dive into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute  #nasa #space #science #cassini #saturn #planets #planet #solarsystem #distance #voyage #journey #picoftheday #miles #exploration #discovery #rings #astronomy
This enchanting, star-studded galaxy captured by our Hubble telescope (@NASAHubble) lies about 65 million light-years away from Earth, which means that the light that we see now left it 65 million years ago, just when dinosaurs became extinct.  This galaxy has had its fair share of dramatic events. In 2011, astronomers observed the explosion of a supernova in the galaxy (not visible in this image) and have observed many pulsating stars called Cepheid variables. These stars change their brightness at a rate matched closely to their intrinsic luminosity, making them ideal cosmic points for measuring accurate distances to relatively nearby galaxies.  Image credit: NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU)  #nasa #space #hubble #spothubble #galaxy #universe #solarsystem #bright #stars #lightyears #science #pictureoftheday
What a view! Before its graceful farewell, our Cassini spacecraft offered us a virtual window seat to different worlds.  This image shows a "passenger perspective” of luminous Saturn & its signature rings through a haze of Sun glare on the camera lens. If you could travel to Saturn in person and look out the window of your spacecraft when the Sun was at a certain angle, you might see a view very similar to this one. It was taken during a June 23, 2013 flyby from ~491,200 miles away.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute #nasa #space #cassini #saturn #solarsystem #exploration #science #pictureoftheday #spacecraft #mission #visible #light #picoftheday #astronomy #ring #rings #lensflare #glare #perspective
Water is crucial for life, but how do you make water?  A molecular cloud is an interstellar cloud of dust, gas, and a variety of molecules. Molecular clouds hold most of the water in the universe, and serve as nurseries for newborn stars and their planets. Within these clouds, on the surfaces of tiny dust grains, hydrogen atoms link with oxygen to form water. Carbon joins with hydrogen to make methane. Nitrogen bonds with hydrogen to create ammonia. All of these molecules stick to the surface of dust specks, accumulating icy layers over millions of years. The result is a vast collection of “snowflakes” that are swept up by infant planets, delivering materials needed for life as we know it.  Once launched, our Webb Space Telescope (@nasawebb) will peer into these cosmic clouds of dust, gas and molecules to gain new insights into the origin and evolution of water and other key building blocks for habitable planets.  Pictured here is blue light from a newborn star lighting up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb Space Telescope will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices.  Credits: European Southern Observatory (ESO)  #nasa #space #webb #galaxy #universe #solarsystem #bright #nebula #clouds #planets #water #ice #stars #chaotic #lightyears #molecules #science #pictureoftheday
This galaxy – composed of a busy cloud of bright stars – has an irregular and chaotic appearance, as seen here by our Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble). Roughly 25 million light-years away, this galaxy contains bright pockets that indicate bursts of new star formation.  It is thought that irregular galaxies may once have been spirals or ellipticals, but became distorted over time through external gravitational forces during interactions or mergers with other galaxies. Dwarf irregulars in particular are important to our overall understanding of galactic evolution, as they are thought to be similar to the first galaxies that formed in the universe.  Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgements: Judy Schmidt #nasa #space #hubble #spothubble #galaxy #universe #solarsystem #bright #stars #irregular #chaotic #lightyears #spiral #elliptical #science #pictureoftheday
With unearthly jet-streams, many massive swirling cyclones and winds running deep into its atmosphere - new data from our Juno Mission to Jupiter unveils discoveries and clues about the gas-giant planet.  This composite image, derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard our Juno spacecraft, shows the central cyclone at the planet's north pole and the eight cyclones that encircle it. However, as tightly spaced as the cyclones are, they have remained distinct, with individual morphologies over the seven months of observations. The question is, why do they not merge? We are beginning to realize that not all gas giants are created equal.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM  #nasa #space #science #unearthly #jetstreams #jupiter #planet #solarsystem #mission #spacecraft #gasgiant #nature #naturepaper #infrared #pictureoftheday
What’s up in the sky this month? You’re in for a real treat if you’re able to get away to a dark sky location on a Moonless night this month. The Zodiacal light and the Milky Way intersect!  The Zodiacal light is a faint triangular glow seen from a dark sky just after sunset in the spring or just before sunrise in the fall. The more familiar Milky Way is one of the spiral arms of our galaxy.  What we’re seeing is sunlight reflecting off dust grains that circle the Sun in the inner solar system. These dust grains journey across our sky in the ecliptic – the same plane as the Moon and the planets.  Credit: NASA  #credit #nasa #space #astronomy #whatsup #nightsky #sky #stargazing #solarsystem #universe #planets #stars #moon #zodiacal #light #milkyway #dust #galaxy #lookup
The case of the Martian boulder piles : What organized these boulders into neatly-spaced lumps? A similar process back in the Arctic on Earth could help solve this mystery on Mars. Investigate the details…  This image was originally meant to track the movement of sand dunes near the North Pole of Mars, but what's on the ground in between the dunes is just as interesting! The ground has parallel dark and light stripes from upper left to lower right in this area. In the dark stripes, we see piles of boulders at regular intervals.  In the Arctic back on Earth, rocks can be organized by a process called "frost heave." With frost heave, repeatedly freezing and thawing of the ground can bring rocks to the surface and organize them into piles, stripes or even circles. On Earth, one of these temperature cycles takes a year, but on Mars it might be connected to changes in the planet's orbit around the Sun that take much longer.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona  #nasa #space #mars #dunes #boulder #martian #surface #dark #light #earth #arctic #science #solarsystem #planet #mystery #detective #pictureoftheday
What does Jupiter's twilight zone look like? Our Juno spacecraft (@NASAJuno) took this color-enhanced image during its eleventh close flyby of the gas giant planet on Feb. 7, capturing the swirling cloud formations around the south pole of Jupiter, looking up toward the equatorial region.  To make features more visible in this region where day meets night, Juno took multiple photos at different exposures. In order to collect enough light to reveal features in Jupiter's dark twilight zone, the much brighter illuminated day-side of Jupiter becomes overexposed with the higher exposure.  Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt #nasa #space #juno #jupiter #gasgiant #planet #clouds #swirling #pattern #solarsystem #science #spacecraft #pictureoftheday
Curious about what objects you can spot in the night sky this month? We can help!  Both Venus and Mercury will be visible in the evening sky this month. At the beginning of this month, they appear low on the western horizon. The Moon itself joins the pair from March 18 – 20.  The Moon will then skim by the Pleiades star cluster and Taurus’ bright red star, named Aldebaran, on the next few evenings – March 21 – 23.  Jupiter – king of the planets – rises just before midnight this month, and earlier by month end. Even through the smallest telescope or average binoculars, you should see the four Galilean moons – Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede.  So get outside this month and look up!  Credit: NASA  #credit #nasa #space #astronomy #whatsup #nightsky #sky #stargazing #solarsystem #universe #planets #stars #moon #venus #mercury #jupiter #cluster #taurus #pleiades #aldebaran #lookup
Star light, Star bright! Illuminating far-off galaxies at night!  In the 1980s, scientists started discovering a new class of extremely bright sources of X-rays in galaxies. These Ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs, are objects beaming with the light of 1 million suns, 23 million light years away.  Long thought to be black holes, in the past few years Chandra X-ray Observatory data helped identify these objects as neutron stars — the cores of a massive post-supernova star. This discovery also came with clues about how these objects can shine so brightly.  The latest ULX is located in the Whirlpool galaxy, also known as M51. This composite image of the Whirlpool contains X-rays from Chandra (purple) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble) (red, green, and blue). The ULX is marked with a circle.  Neutron stars are extremely dense objects — a teaspoon would weigh more than a billion tons, as much as a mountain. The intense gravity of the neutron stars pulls surrounding material away from companion stars, and as this material falls toward the neutron star, it heats up and glows with X-rays. As more and more matter falls onto the neutron star, there comes a time when the pressure from the resulting X-ray light becomes so intense that it pushes the matter away. Astronomers call this point — when the objects typically cannot accumulate matter any faster and give off any more X-rays — the Eddington limit. The latest result shows this ULX is surpassing the Eddington limit for a neutron star.  Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Caltech/M. Brightman et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI  #nasa #space #chandra #supernova #explosion #remnants #carbon #chemical #elements #beautiful #pictureoftheday #picoftheday #universe #solarsystem #stars #earth #xray #observatory #astronomy #astronomers