NASA Day of Remembrance, 2021

NASA holds a Day of Remembrance each year to honor the crews of Apollo 1, space shuttles Challenger and Columbia who lost their lives “while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery.”

For 2021, that day was today, January 28, and included a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Hubble Image of Cygnus Supernova Blast Wave

According to NASA press release,

While appearing as a delicate and light veil draped across the sky, this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2,400 light-years away. The name of the supernova remnant comes from its position in the northern constellation of Cygnus (the Swan), where it covers an area 36 times larger than the full Moon. 

The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 20 times more massive than our Sun between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its center. The shockwave marks the outer edge of the supernova remnant and continues to expand at around 220 miles per second. The interaction of the ejected material and the low-density interstellar material swept up by the shockwave forms the distinctive veil-like structure seen in this image.

Hubble Image of Cygnus Supernova Blast Wave
Hubble Image of Cygnus Supernova Blast Wave

NASA’s Halloween Posters–Galaxy of Horrors

NASA released some clever Halloween posters highlighting the more dangerous aspects of our universe. The website includes some very high resolution versions of these posters suitable for printing.

NASA Halloween Poster - Galactic Graveyard
This chillingly haunted galaxy mysteriously stopped making stars only a few billion years after the Big Bang! It became a cosmic cemetery, illuminated by the red glow of decaying stars. Dare to enter, and you might encounter the frightening corpses of exoplanets or the final death throes of once-mighty stars.
NASA Halloween Poster - Dark Matter
Something strange and mysterious creeps throughout the cosmos. Scientists call it dark matter. It is scattered in an intricate web that forms the skeleton of our universe. Dark matter is invisible, only revealing its presence by pushing and pulling on objects we can see. NASA’s Roman Space Telescope will investigate its secrets. What will be revealed?
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NASA Flyover and Tour of Asteroid Bennu

NASA has created a couple of flyover/tour animation videos of asteroid Bennu, which was explored by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.

When NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu in December 2018, its close-up images confirmed what mission planners had predicted nearly two decades before: Bennu is made of loose material weakly clumped together by gravity, and shaped like a spinning top. This major validation, however, was accompanied by a major surprise. Scientists had expected Bennu’s surface to consist of fine-grained material like a sandy beach, but instead OSIRIS-REx was greeted by a rugged world littered with boulders – the size of cars, the size of houses, the size of football fields.

Cyclones at Jupiter’s North Pole

This is a pretty cool false color image of cyclones occurring at Jupiter’s North Pole courtesy of NASA’s Juno mission.

Cyclones at the north pole of Jupiter appear as swirls of striking colors in this extreme false color rendering of an image from NASA’s Juno mission. The huge, persistent cyclone found at Jupiter’s north pole is visible at the center of the image, encircled by smaller cyclones that range in size from 2,500 to 2,900 miles (4,000 to 4,600 kilometers). Together, this pattern of storms covers an area that would dwarf the Earth.

The color choices in this image reveal both the beauty of Jupiter and the subtle details present in Jupiter’s dynamic cloud structure. Each new observation that Juno provides of Jupiter’s atmosphere complements computer simulations and helps further refine our understanding of how the storms evolve over time.

Cyclones at Jupiter's North Pole
Cyclones at Jupiter’s North Pole