Category: science

Earth from Afar

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11

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This week we’re celebrating Earth Day 2018 with some of our favorite images of Earth from afar…

At 7.2 million Miles…and 4 Billion Miles

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Voyager famously captured two unique views of our homeworld from afar. One image, taken in 1977 from a distance of 7.3 million miles (11.7 million kilometers) (above), showed the full Earth and full Moon in a single frame for the first time in history. The second (below), taken in 1990 as part of a “family portrait of our solar system from 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers), shows Earth as a tiny blue speck in a ray of sunlight.” This is the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image immortalized by Carl Sagan.

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“This was our willingness to see the Earth as a one-pixel object in a far greater cosmos,” Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan said of the image. “It’s that humility that science gives us. That weans us from our childhood need to be the center of things. And Voyager gave us that image of the Earth that is so heart tugging because you can’t look at that image and not think of how fragile, how fragile our world is. How much we have in common with everyone with whom we share it; our relationship, our relatedness, to everyone on this tiny pixel.“

A Bright Flashlight in a Dark Sea of Stars

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Our Kepler mission captured Earth’s image as it slipped past at a distance of 94 million miles (151 million kilometers). The reflection was so extraordinarily bright that it created a saber-like saturation bleed across the instrument’s sensors, obscuring the neighboring Moon.

Hello and Goodbye

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This beautiful shot of Earth as a dot beneath Saturn’s rings was taken in 2013 as thousands of humans on Earth waved at the exact moment the spacecraft pointed its cameras at our home world. Then, in 2017, Cassini caught this final view of Earth between Saturn’s rings as the spacecraft spiraled in for its Grand Finale at Saturn.

‘Simply Stunning’

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The image is simply stunning. The image of the Earth evokes the famous ‘Blue Marble’ image taken by astronaut Harrison Schmitt during Apollo 17…which also showed Africa prominently in the picture.“ -Noah Petro, Deputy Project Scientist for our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.

Goodbye—for now—at 19,000 mph

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As part of an engineering test, our OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of Earth and the Moon in January 2018 from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). When the camera acquired the image, the spacecraft was moving away from our home planet at a speed of 19,000 miles per hour (8.5 kilometers per second). Earth is the largest, brightest spot in the center of the image, with the smaller, dimmer Moon appearing to the right. Several constellations are also visible in the surrounding space.

The View from Mars

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A human observer with normal vision, standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the Moon as two distinct, bright "evening stars.”

Moon Photobomb

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“This image from the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a unique view of the Moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth in 2015. It provides a view of the far side of the Moon, which is never directly visible to us here on Earth. “I found this perspective profoundly moving and only through our satellite views could this have been shared.” – Michael Freilich, Director of our Earth Science Division.

Eight Days Out

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Eight days after its final encounter with Earththe second of two gravitational assists from Earth that helped boost the spacecraft to Jupiterthe Galileo spacecraft looked back and captured this remarkable view of our planet and its Moon. The image was taken from a distance of about 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers).

A Slice of Life

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Earth from about 393,000 miles (633,000 kilometers) away, as seen by the European Space Agency’s comet-bound Rosetta spacecraft during its third and final swingby of our home planet in 2009.

So Long Earth

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The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of our home planet on Aug. 2, 2005.

Earth Science: Taking a Closer Look

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Our home planet is a beautiful, dynamic place. Our view from Earth orbit sees a planet at change. Check out more images of our beautiful Earth here.

Join Our Earth Day Celebration!

We pioneer and supports an amazing range of advanced technologies and tools to help scientists and environmental specialists better understand and protect our home planet – from space lasers to virtual reality, small satellites and smartphone apps. 

To celebrate Earth Day 2018, April 22, we are highlighting many of these innovative technologies and the amazing applications behind them.

Learn more about our Earth Day plans HERE

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

The Hunt for New Worlds Continues with TESS

We’re getting ready to start our next mission to find new worlds! The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will find thousands of planets beyond our solar system for us to study in more detail. It’s preparing to launch from our Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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Once it launches, TESS will look for new planets that orbit bright stars relatively close to Earth. We’re expecting to find giant planets, like Jupiter, but we’re also predicting we’ll find Earth-sized planets. Most of those planets will be within 300 light-years of Earth, which will make follow-up studies easier for other observatories.

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TESS will find these new exoplanets by looking for their transits. A transit is a temporary dip in a star’s brightness that happens with predictable timing when a planet crosses between us and the star. The information we get from transits can tell us about the size of the planet relative to the size of its star. We’ve found nearly 3,000 planets using the transit method, many with our Kepler space telescope. That’s over 75% of all the exoplanets we’ve found so far!

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TESS will look at nearly the entire sky (about 85%) over two years. The mission divides the sky into 26 sectors. TESS will look at 13 of them in the southern sky during its first year before scanning the northern sky the year after.

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What makes TESS different from the other planet-hunting missions that have come before it? The Kepler mission (yellow) looked continually at one small patch of sky, spotting dim stars and their planets that are between 300 and 3,000 light-years away. TESS (blue) will look at almost the whole sky in sections, finding bright stars and their planets that are between 30 and 300 light-years away.

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TESS will also have a brand new kind of orbit (visualized below). Once it reaches its final trajectory, TESS will finish one pass around Earth every 13.7 days (blue), which is half the time it takes for the Moon (gray) to orbit. This position maximizes the amount of time TESS can stare at each sector, and the satellite will transmit its data back to us each time its orbit takes it closest to Earth (orange).

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Kepler’s goal was to figure out how common Earth-size planets might be. TESS’s mission is to find exoplanets around bright, nearby stars so future missions, like our James Webb Space Telescope, and ground-based observatories can learn what they’re made of and potentially even study their atmospheres. TESS will provide a catalog of thousands of new subjects for us to learn about and explore.

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The TESS mission is led by MIT and came together with the help of many different partners. Learn more about TESS and how it will further our knowledge of exoplanets, or check out some more awesome images and videos of the spacecraft. And stay tuned for more exciting TESS news as the spacecraft launches!

Watch the Launch + More!

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Sunday, April 15
11 a.m. EDT – NASA Social Mission Overview

Join mission experts to learn more about TESS, how it will search for worlds beyond our solar system and what scientists hope to find! Have questions? Use #askNASA to have them answered live during the broadcast.

Watch HERE


1 p.m. EDT – Prelaunch News Conference

Get an update on the spacecraft, the rocket and the liftoff operations ahead of the April 16 launch! Have questions? Use #askNASA to have them answered live during the broadcast.

Watch HERE.


3 p.m. EDT – Science News Conference

Hear from mission scientists and experts about the science behind the TESS mission. Have questions? Use #askNASA to have them answered live during the broadcast. 

Watch HERE.


4 p.m. EDT – TESS Facebook Live

This live show will dive into the science behind the TESS spacecraft, explain how we search for planets outside our solar system and will allow you to ask your questions to members of the TESS team. 

Watch HERE


Monday, April 16
10 a.m. EDT – NASA EDGE: TESS Facebook Live

This half-hour live show will discuss the TESS spacecraft, the science of searching for planets outside our solar system, and the launch from Cape Canaveral.

Watch HERE.

1 p.m. EDT – Reddit AMA

Join us live on Reddit for a Science AMA to discuss the hunt for exoplanets and the upcoming launch of TESS!

Join in HERE.


6 p.m. EDT – Launch Coverage!

TESS is slated to launch at 6:32 p.m. EDT on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Watch HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

How does a microgravity garden grow when there…

How does a microgravity garden grow when there’s no up or down? An advanced chamber, about the size of a mini-fridge, is giving us a clearer perspective of plant growth habits. Without gravity and the addition of a wide variety of light and humidity settings, the plants cultivated on the International Space Station provide a world of opportunity to study space-based agricultural cycles.

Learn more about our space garden HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Ast…

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!