Monday, 1 December 2014


Week's Best Space Pictures: A Rocket Roars, Saturn Mixes, and Titan Mimics
By Jane J. Lee,
National Geographic News, 28 November 2014.

A rocket roars off the launchpad, Saturn mixes its upper atmosphere, and Titan mimics the crescent moon in this week's best space pictures.

1. Martian Mosaic


The Mast Camera on the Mars rover Curiosity snapped six pictures of the bedrock at Alexander Hills on November 23.

Researchers stitched the images together into a mosaic to help them study in detail an area six feet (1.8 meters) across. The colour in this image has been adjusted so that the surface appears as it would in normal daylight on Earth.

2. Preparing for Flight


Arms close around a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft in Kazakhstan in preparation for its November 24 launch to the International Space Station.

The rocket will deliver a Russian cosmonaut, a U.S. astronaut, and a flight engineer from the European Space Agency to the ISS to begin a five-and-a-half-month mission.

3. A Furnace's Spiral

Photograph by ESA/Hubble & NASA

A barred spiral galaxy, named NGC 986, resides in the Fornax, or Furnace, constellation about 56 million light-years from Earth. Bar-shaped structures composed of stars cut across about two-thirds of spiral galaxies.

In this close-up view, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, young stars glow light blue. The galaxy's central area is also awash in the illumination given off by a star-forming region.

4. Saturn's Swirls


Forces in Saturn's upper atmosphere conspire to create swirls in the ringed planet's cloud cover in an image taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Researchers study the movement of Saturn's clouds in part to learn more about the way fluids work. (Read about the huge "snowballs" that punched through portions of Saturn's rings.)

5. Happy Trails


A long-exposure photograph illuminates the trail of fire left by a Soyuz TMA-15M rocket as it ferries three people to the International Space Station on November 24. The crew of Expedition 42 begins a mission this week that will end in March 2015.

6. A Patchwork of Colours


Canada's Ellesmere Island presents a patchwork of blue, white, and brown in an image taken by NASA's Terra satellite and released November 24. This north-central part of the island is covered in glaciers (blue and white).

Ellesmere has been continuously inhabited since 2000 B.C., although its current population numbers just under 200 people.

7. Double Crescents


Saturn (foreground) and its moon Titan appear as crescents in an image made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The picture, taken in violet light while facing the sun, allows scientists to study the makeup and physical state of the atmosphere on both Saturn and Titan. (Read about the "magic islands" that have been spotted on Titan.)

Photo gallery by Nicole Werbeck.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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