Outer space does not begin at a definite altitude above the Earth's surface. The Kármán line, an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) above sea level, is conventionally used as the start of outer space in space treaties and for aerospace records keeping. The framework for international space law was established by the Outer Space Treaty, which entered into force on 10 October 1967. This treaty precludes any claims of national sovereignty and permits all states to freely explore outer space. Despite the drafting of UN resolutions for the peaceful uses of outer space, anti-satellite weapons have been tested in Earth orbit.
Outer space represents a challenging environment for human exploration because of the hazards of vacuum and radiation. Microgravity also has a negative effect on human physiology that causes both muscle atrophy and bone loss. In addition to these health and environmental issues, the economic cost of putting objects, including humans, into space is very high. (Full article...)
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planetVenus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving slowly across the face of the Sun. A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon, but while the diameter of Venus is more than three times that of the Moon it is much further from Earth and so appears smaller and generally takes longer (up to eight hours) to travel across the solar disk. Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena—they occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The last transit of Venus was on 5 and 6 June 2012; the next will be 10–11 December 2117. Historically, Venus transits were of great scientific importance as they were used to gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the solar system. The 2012 transit provided scientists with a number of other research opportunities, particularly in the refinement of techniques to be used in the search for exoplanets.
The Planum Boreum's permanent ice cap has a maximum depth of 3 km (1.9 mi). It is roughly 1200 km (750 mi) in diameter, an area equivalent to about 1½ times the size of Texas. The Chasma Boreale is up to 100 km (62.5 mi) wide and features scarps up to 2 km (1.25 mi) high. For a comparison, the Grand Canyon is approximately 1.6 km (1 mi) deep in some places and 446 km (279 mi) long but only up to 24 km (15 mi) wide.
A diagram of Jupiter showing a model of the planet's interior, with a rocky core overlaid by a deep layer of liquid metallic hydrogen and an outer layer predominantly of molecular hydrogen. Jupiter's true interior composition is uncertain. For instance, the core may have shrunk as convection currents of hot liquid metallic hydrogen mixed with the molten core and carried its contents to higher levels in the planetary interior. Furthermore, there is no clear physical boundary between the hydrogen layers—with increasing depth the gas increases smoothly in temperature and density, ultimately becoming liquid.
This picture is a true-colour image of Mars, taken from a distance of about 240,000 kilometres (150,000 mi) by the OSIRIS instrument on ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, during its February 2007 flyby of the planet. The image was generated using OSIRIS's orange (red), green and blue filters.
An animated image showing the apparent retrograde motion of Mars in 2003 as seen from Earth. All the true planets appear to periodically switch direction as they cross the sky. Because Earth completes its orbit in a shorter period of time than the planets outside its orbit, we periodically overtake them, like a faster car on a multi-lane highway. When this occurs, the planet will first appear to stop its eastward drift, and then drift back toward the west. Then, as Earth swings past the planet in its orbit, it appears to resume its normal motion west to east.
Astronaut Eugene Cernan makes a short test drive of the lunar rover (officially, Lunar Roving Vehicle or LRV) during the early part of the first Apollo 17extravehicular activity. The LRV was only used in the last three Apollo missions, but it performed without any major problems and allowed the astronauts to cover far more ground than in previous missions. All three LRVs were abandoned on the Moon.
An animation of the phases of the Moon. As the Moon revolves around the Earth, the Sun lights the Moon from a different side, creating the different phases. In the image, the Moon appears to get bigger as well as "wobble" slightly. Tidal locking synchronizes the Moon's rotation period on its axis to match its orbital period around the earth. These two periods nearly cancel each other out, except that the Moon's orbit is elliptical. This causes its orbital motion to speed up when closer to the Earth, and slow down when farther away, causing the Moon's apparent diameter to change, as well as the wobbling motion observed.
An animated view of Voyager I's approach to Jupiter. One frame of this image was taken each Jupiter day (approximately 10 hours) between January 6 and February 9, 1979, as the space probe flew from 58 million to 31 million kilometers from Jupiter during that time. The small, round, dark spots appearing in some frames are the shadows cast by the moons passing between Jupiter and the Sun, while the small, white flashes around the planet, are the moons themselves.
This Supernova remnant of Kepler'sSupernova (SN 1604) is made up of the materials left behind by the gigantic explosion of a star. There are two possible routes to this end: either a massive star may cease to generate fusion energy in its core, and collapse inward under the force of its own gravity, or a white dwarf star may accumulate material from a companion star until it reaches a critical mass and undergoes a similar collapse. In either case, the resulting supernova explosion expels much or all of the stellar material with great force.
A TRACE image of sunspots on the surface, or photosphere, of the sun from September 2002, is taken in the far ultraviolet on a relatively quiet day for solar activity. However, the image still shows a large sunspot group visible as a bright area near the horizon. Although sunspots are relatively cool regions on the surface of the sun, the bright glowing gas flowing around the sunspots have a temperature of over one million °C (1.8 million °F). The high temperatures are thought to be related to the rapidly changing magnetic field loops that channel solar plasma.
Photograph: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team
The Pillars of Creation, a series of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula, are the subject of a famous Hubble Space Telescope photograph taken in 1995. They are so named because the depicted gas and dust, while being eroded by the light from nearby stars, are in the process of creating new stars. Shown here is a 2014 rephotograph, which was unveiled in 2015 as part of the telescope's 25th anniversary celebrations.
Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, is named after the Roman god of war because of its blood red color. Mars has two small, oddly-shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos, named after the sons of the Greek god Ares. At some point in the future Phobos will be broken up by gravitational forces. The atmosphere on Mars is 95% carbon dioxide. In 2003 methane was also discovered in the atmosphere. Since methane is an unstable gas, this indicates that there must be (or have been within the last few hundred years) a source of the gas on the planet.
This infrared image shows hundreds of thousands of stars crowded into the swirling core of our spiral Milky Way galaxy. In visible-light pictures, this region cannot be seen at all because cosmic dust lying between Earth and the galactic center blocks our view.
Credit: NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory
The Pleiades (also known as M45 or the Seven Sisters) is an open cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest to the Earth of all open clusters, probably the best known and certainly the most striking to the naked eye.
A timed exposure of the first Space Shuttle mission, STS-1. The shuttle Columbia stands on launch pad A at Kennedy Space Center, the night before launch. The objectives of the maiden flight were to check out the overall Shuttle system, accomplish a safe ascent into orbit and to return to Earth for a safe landing.
Image 3Matter distribution in a cubic section of the universe. The blue fiber structures represent the matter and the empty regions in between represent the cosmic voids of the intergalactic medium. (from Outer space)
Image 32This is an artist's concept of the metric expansion of space, where a volume of the Universe is represented at each time interval by the circular sections. At left is depicted the rapid inflation from the initial state, followed thereafter by steadier expansion to the present day, shown at right. (from Outer space)
Image 33Vanguard 1 is expected to remain in orbit for 240 years. (from Space debris)
Image 50Atmospheric attenuation in dB/km as a function of frequency over the EHF band. Peaks in absorption at specific frequencies are a problem, due to atmosphere constituents such as water vapor (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). (from Interstellar medium)
Image 64Debris impacts on Mir's solar panels degraded their performance. The damage is most noticeable on the panel on the right, which is facing the camera with a high degree of contrast. Extensive damage to the smaller panel below is due to impact with a Progress spacecraft. (from Space debris)
Image 67Artistic image of a rocket lifting from a Saturn moon (from Space exploration)
Image 68The distribution of ionized hydrogen (known by astronomers as H II from old spectroscopic terminology) in the parts of the Galactic interstellar medium visible from the Earth's northern hemisphere as observed with the Wisconsin Hα Mapper (Haffner et al. 2003) harv error: no target: CITEREFHaffnerReynoldsTufteMadsen2003 (help). (from Interstellar medium)
Image 70Part of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image showing a typical section of space containing galaxies interspersed by deep vacuum. Given the finite speed of light, this view covers the past 13 billion years of the history of outer space.
Image 77Space ShuttleDiscovery's lower starboard wing and Thermal Protection System tiles, photographed on STS-114 during an R-Bar Pitch Manoeuvre where astronauts examine the TPS for any damage during ascent (from Space debris)
Image 85In July 1950 the first Bumper rocket is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Bumper was a two-stage rocket consisting of a Post-War V-2 topped by a WAC Corporal rocket. It could reach then-record altitudes of almost 400 km. Launched by General Electric Company, this Bumper was used primarily for testing rocket systems and for research on the upper atmosphere. They carried small payloads that allowed them to measure attributes including air temperature and cosmic ray impacts. (from Space exploration)