Tag Archives: hubble

Space Wonder from Earthling Eyes

French photographer Thierry Legault takes some amazing photographs of our spacecraft. See what I mean?

STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery approaching Space Station to dock. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery approaching Space Station to dock. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-133 Spacewalk as seen from Earth. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-133 Spacewalk as seen from Earth. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Goosebumps!

You are looking at images of Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission to Space Station. Soak in the significance of these images. We are closing out the final chapter in our nation’s Space Shuttle program. (But you already knew that, right?) So cool that we have photographers like Thierry out there caring enough to record this journey for us.

Let me share the back story of our NASA relationship with Thierry.

It all began back in September 2006, when Space Shuttle Atlantis launched to orbit for STS-115, a 11 day-19 hour-6 minute mission to Space Station and back. Thierry captured this image.

STS-115 Atlantis & Station in front of the sun. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-115 Atlantis & Station in front of the sun. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Note: Space Station had a totally different shape then. We were only six years into the decade-long construction project.

I saw this picture in a magazine and tracked Thierry down through his photography service in France. On April 24, 2007, I wrote him this email:

Thierry,
Your image of Station and Shuttle in front of the sun is absolutely FABULOUS! May we have permission to use the photo with our NASA exhibits?  We would give you credit, of course! Your image is the most striking I’ve ever seen, and the fact that the Shuttle and Station are in the same shot from Earth is incredible. The general public has trouble getting excited about Station because we’ve built it in orbit. They’ve never seen it, except in our images from space. Your image allows them to touch space from home.

He contacted me almost immediately and agreed to let us use his photo. We were thrilled! For me, the story this image tells is that humans (and the things we create) are SO tiny against the awesome backdrop of the universe we live in. Wow! Plus, we can allow folks at home a glimpse of of the incredible engineering marvel we’re building UP IN SPACE.

Fast forward to August 2008, we received an email from Thierry that he was interested in taking pics of his beloved Atlantis during the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission. The only problem was, Hubble orbits 35o miles over Earth. Space Station orbits 220 miles overhead. He couldn’t afford the special lens required to capture the image – an additional 130 miles UP in the sky. He wanted to know if we had one, or were willing to buy one, so that he could record such an historic event — the final Space Shuttle repair mission to Hubble.

Intrigued, we did a bit of research to see if we had any NASA camera equipment that met the specs. Nope. Our next option was to look into purchasing the lens, but we needed to find other uses of the equipment after Thierry borrowed it for the mission. NASA photographer, Bill Ingalls, raised his hand (or more accurately, jumped up and down with glee) at the opportunity to get his hands on the lens. Done. (And, just so you know, the price of the lens dropped significantly by the time we purchased it. We snagged a great lens at a great price.)

Thierry traveled from France to Florida for the STS-125 mission. Our own excellent Bill took Thierry along with him for all his official duties, giving Thierry access to the best NASA locations to photograph the mission.

What did we get out of the deal? Incredible images of Space Shuttle Atlantis and Hubble in front of the Sun, that’s what!

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit

The images went viral. Newspapers, websites, blogs, tweets around the world gushed about Thierry’s images of our spacecraft. What’s not to love?

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

Thank you Thierry for sharing your photos (and your amazing talent) with us. You’ve perfectly captured the drama and awe and wonder of space.

What an out-of-this-world sight!

Hot off the presses (or email): After posting this morning, Thierry sent me more images to share with you. How many times can I say WOW!!! Simply breathtaking!

Space Station during Lunar Eclipse 12/20/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Space Station during Lunar Eclipse 12/20/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docking with Space Station 05/16/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docking with Space Station 05/16/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to Station 05/22/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to Station 05/22/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Space Station during Solar Eclipse 01/04/2011. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Space Station during Solar Eclipse 01/04/2011. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Thierry, keep ‘em coming!

1 Comment

Filed under Earth, NASA, space, technology

Hug-a-Blue-Planet Day

Hey, how many blue planets do you know…and love? Today is the day to celebrate Planet Earth — the one with the atmospheric thin blue line that supports life as we know it.

Earth: Thin Blue Line

Earth: Thin Blue Line

Pretty amazing, when you think about it. Of all the stars and all the galaxies out there, our fragile planet Earth is teeming with life — plants, animals, humans. Though, I could do without some of the less loveable lifeforms — like roaches — but that’s another story altogether.

Today we celebrate Earth. Our home planet. Perfectly formed. Amazingly complex. Incredibly beautiful.

Earth: Blue Marble

Earth: Blue Marble

After attending a NASA employee preview of the  IMAX Hubble 3D movie this week, I gained fresh appreciation for our planet Earth. My favorite quote from the movie in reference to the Apollo missions,

“On the way to the Moon, we discovered Earth.”

I’d never really thought about it. We’d never seen our planet (through human eyes) until we left the planet. Astronauts looking back upon the Earth and capturing “vacation” images from the surface of a different orbiting body, gave us a unique perspective on the place we call home.

Now, decades later, it’s really easy to take for granted the unique vantage point space gives us of Earth. How else would you see these clouds from the top down?

Cumulonimbus Clouds Over Africa

Cumulonimbus Clouds Over Africa

Side note: When you were young, did you imagine cloud formations as objects? I still do. This pic reminds me of a one-eyed cloud creature. Or a cloud-brella. Or a cloud ship — to feed imaginations of UFO-watchers. ;)

@astro_soichiHow times have changed from the days of Apollo to today. Astronauts onboard Space Station and Shuttle post real-time pics of Mother Earth from space. We can go along with their journey as they orbit Earth every 90 minutes traveling 17,500 mph. Japanese Expedition 23 crew member @Astro_Soichi Noguchi is prolific in his Twitpic-ing. Here is his Happy Earth Day pic.

@Astro_Soichi: Happy Earth Day to you.

Astronauts celebrate Earth Day every day they spend OFF the planet.

They live the green life we only aspire to here on Earth. Think about it.

  • All the power onboard their spacecraft is generated by the Sun, collected via solar panels, and stored for use. I collect sun in my skin cells to use in Vitamin D, but that’s about it for my solar energy collection here on Earth.
  • Space pioneers collect waste water and urine to recycle into drinking water and other water needs. I recycle the cat bowl water into my plants. Hey, it’s a start, isn’t it?
  • Long-duration space travelers wash clothes in ziplock bags and hang them in zero-g to dry. Nope, I use a washer and dryer. Sorry Earth.
  • Air filtration systems on Space Station scrub and recycle the air they breath. I keep my windows closed during pollen season. Does that count?
Space Station Expedition 19: Toast to fully recycled H2O

Space Station Expedition 19: Toast to fully recycled H2O

How cool to work for an organization (dare I say American icon?) that has changed how humans view and interact with the world. We initiate amazing projects, like LAUNCH:Water, that allow us to help make a difference for the world of tomorrow through disruptive sustainable innovations we put in place today. And we’re busy planning the next LAUNCH.org event. WooHoo! LAUNCH from Geologie on Vimeo.

I’m excited that NASA affords me the opportunity to play even the tiniest role in making this planet a better place to live.

Perhaps we can celebrate best by skipping today’s shower, eating edible flowers from our garden (not that I have any), and unplugging all our phone chargers. Every little bit helps, right?

Happy 40th Earth Day to all fellow Earthlings. Aliens too!

Earth Week flowers at DC Smithsonian Castle

Earth Week flowers at DC Smithsonian Castle

Crosspost on GovLoop.

1 Comment

Filed under astronaut, Earth, environment, NASA, space

SnOMG=X-teroid Invasion!

I’m snowed in. I should be shoveling out. But, I really don’t feel like it. I’m not in the mood to exert the energy required to uncover almost two feet of snow. If I were smart, I’d be shoveling out every couple of inches. Or if I were really smart, I’d move to the British Virgin Islands. Yet, here I sit — a blanket of white falling hard and fast out my windows. No end in sight.

Snowmaggedon. Snowpocalypse. SnOMG!

While I sat here, posting info on tomorrow’s Super Bowl Sunday STS-130 Space Shuttle launch on Facebook, I ran across this X-files-looking Hubble image of a “mysterious X-shaped debris pattern and trailing streamers of dust” that astronomers have never seen before.

Hubble discovers X-teroid

Hubble discovers X-teroid

I know this can all be explained-away by science. Here’s what NASA has to say about it: “Hubble shows the main nucleus of P/2010 A2 lies outside its own halo of dust. This has never been seen before in a comet-like object. The nucleus is estimated to be 460 feet in diameter.”

But…what if it really is a spacecraft of some kind?

Ok, let’s stop here. Let me warn you that I have a vivid imagination. …Now, with that said, hear me out.

What if this crazy blizzard is a cover for a planet X-teroid invasion?

Look at the timing. Hubble catches a glimpse of the advance X-ship. Then, the snow storm of the century hits our Nation’s Capitol!

Rather suspect. Wouldn’t you agree?

No? You’re not buying my alien conspiracy theory? I’m crushed. ;) But hey, what a fun SciFy plot. SnOMG=X-teroid Invasion. I’m selling the rights. Who’s buying?

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some of my crazy blizzard shots. Then, I guess I have no excuse left NOT to go shovel my way out.

SnOMG Trees

SnOMG Trees

snOMG snow boat (i.e. hammock)

snOMG snow boat (i.e. hammock)

SnOMG front steps

SnOMG front steps

snOMG is devouring my car

snOMG is devouring my car

Tootles! A-shoveling I go….

Leave a comment

Filed under Earth, NASA, space, writers

Sing to Me, Space!

Do you think space is a silent void where no one can hear you scream? Think again.

Scientists at the University of Iowa, working with NASA, captured the music of space – an orchestra of sounds collected deep in outer space where no human has ever gone before. Not even Captain Kirk!

At NASA, we not only enable you to peer out into the far reaches of the universe through Hubble’s robotic eyes, but also bring you heavenly sounds from space. And, let’s face it. How COOL is that?

Ok, true confession.

Most of these recordings don’t really sound like music at all. The words I crafted sound nicer than what you’ll hear below. I’ve gathered together some oddly unsettling and even spooky recordings to share with you. In fact, you may recognize sounds that remind you of old sci fi movies.

Yet, they’re not science fiction. They’re science fact.

Here’s what my imagination tells me is going on out there:

  1. Crickett invasion of Jupiter
  2. Earth homing beacon for visiting UFOs
  3. Tarzan of Jupiter’s Jungle Moon (1st 20 seconds silent.)
  4. Popcorn popping OR blazing fingers on a keyboard (Lightning on Saturn. Really!)
  5. Milky Way Expresso Machine 
  6. Man on the Moon Burping (I hope his wife has better manners.)
  7. Twilight Zone (Nice summer night until you realize you’re ON another PLANet!)

I wonder what the Universe is trying to tell us, if we could only understand? How many times have we stopped long enough to listen?

So what do you think? Will our space sounds sing you to sleep or give you a nightmare? I wonder…

1 Comment

Filed under NASA, space

Go-No Go and the Black Hole between

As we face the pending landing of our successful STS-125 Space Shuttle Atlantis Hubble repair mission, I’m struck by the “Go-No Go” mentality of NASA’s can-do Mission Control teams at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Think about it. “Go-No Go” translates into, “We’re going forward until we tell you to stop.” Success-oriented thinking. A “Go-No Go-er” manages risk by assessing potential outcomes and making reasoned decisions based on the probability for success. If new information comes, reassess and alter direction.

Now, let’s consider the reverse: “No Go-Go,” which means “Do nothing until you’re told to do something.” A “No Go-Go-er” is risk-averse, because risk may lead to that dreaded thing: failure.

Let’s face it: You can NEVER be wrong if you NEVER make a decision.

Think about the people around you: workmates, family, friends. How many do you know who operate in a holding pattern until they get a green light? Far too many, I expect. I call it the “Black Hole of In-Between” – the never-never-land spent waiting for something to happen or someone to give direction.

Often, I’ve observed, that we may be waiting for someone to make a decision and, all the while, he/she may be caught in the Black Hole of not knowing what decision to make. My suggestion: throw them a rope! Get busy and develop solutions to present to your leadership. Be the “Go-No Go-er” who gets things moving. Make a decision. It’s worth the risk. Really!

But then again, you take a risk following my advice. I’m the “protruding stake.” (Refer to About Beth page for Chinese proverb.) ;-D

2 Comments

Filed under NASA, space