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    • By NASA
      NASA/Lauren Dauphin and Wanmei Liang; NOAA The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite sensor on the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, over western Canada at 3:23 a.m. MST (5:23 a.m. EST) on November 5, 2023.
      Auroras are colorful ribbons of light appearing in night skies, incited by a strong geomagnetic storm in Earth’s magnetosphere. Multiple coronal mass ejections from the Sun sent a surge of charged particles toward Earth. After colliding with Earth’s magnetosphere, some particles trapped in the magnetic field are accelerated into Earth’s upper atmosphere where they excite nitrogen and oxygen molecules and release photons of light, known as the aurora.
      If you like watching displays such as these, you can help scientists verify aurora sightings so they can analyze and include them in space weather models.
      Image Credit: NASA/Lauren Dauphin and Wanmei Liang, NOAA
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      2 Min Read A Look Through Time with NASA’s Lead Photographer for the James Webb Space Telescope
      This self portrait of Chris Gunn, standing in front of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope from inside the Goddard Space Flight Center cleanroom, was captured November 10, 2016. Credits:
      NASA/Chris Gunn
      Nearly two years ago in the early morning hours of Dec. 25, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope successfully took flight from the jungle-encircled ELA-3 launch complex at Europe’s Spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. Following a successful deployment in space, and the precise alignment of the telescope’s mirrors and instruments, Webb began science operations nearly six months after liftoff. As the two-year anniversary of the launch aboard ESA’s (European Space Agency) Ariane 5 rocket approaches, Webb’s lead photographer Chris Gunn has remastered a selection of his favorite images from his career, including one previously unreleased image. 
      The opportunity to be the visual spokesperson for a mission of this magnitude was the experience of a lifetime
      Chris GUNN
      NASA/GSFC Lead Photographer for Webb Telescope
      Since the fall of 2009, Gunn has routinely worked through holidays and weekends, and has spent much of these years on the road, ensuring that the Webb telescope’s progress is visually chronicled and shared with the world. As the various parts and components of Webb began to be assembled and tested throughout the country, Gunn and his camera followed along, capturing the historic development of NASA’s premier space telescope. Though Gunn’s images display the complex nature of the telescope aesthetically, these images also serve as critical engineering bookmarks that the team routinely relied on to document that Webb’s construction was sound before launch.   
      Following the launch of Webb, Gunn is now chronicling NASA’s next flagship space telescope, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.
      All images below, credit NASA/Chris Gunn.  

      On Nov. 6, 2012, engineers and technicians inspected one of the first of Webb’s 18 hexagonal mirrors to arrive at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA/Chris Gunn

      Inside a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, on the afternoon of April 25, 2016, the James Webb Space Telescope primary mirrors were uncovered in preparation for installation of its scientific instruments. NASA/Chris Gunn
      Traveling alongside Webb as it grew and evolved, and to be able to add my signature to each photograph captured, was of course an honor, but also an immense challenge. With each image, I wanted to express the awe that I felt seeing Webb integrated right before my eyes, knowing what it was destined to shed new light on the mysteries of the cosmos.
      NASA/GSFC Lead Photographer for Webb Telescope
      NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is shown with one of its two “wings” folded. Each wing holds three of its primary mirror segments. During this operation in the clean room at NASA Goddard, the telescope was also rotated in preparation for the folding back of the other wing. When Webb launched, both wings were stowed in this position, which enabled the mirror to fit into the launch vehicle. This image was captured July 17, 2016. NASA/Chris Gunn

      Dressed in a clean room suit, NASA photographer Desiree Stover shines a light on the Space Environment Simulator’s integration frame inside the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. This image was captured Aug. 29, 2013.

      On May 19, 2016, inside a massive clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Webb’s Integrated Science Instrument Module was lowered into the Optical Telescope Element.

      Taken on Nov. 16, 2016, inside NASA Goddard’s largest clean room Webb’s Optical Telescope Element and Integrated Science Instrument Module – together called “OTIS” – are shrouded with a “clean tent” as the team prepared for Webb’s first vibration testing, which took place just outside the clean room.

      To capture Webb in its true beauty, I employed the use of specialized lighting rigs, often setting up lights early before the start of work. Johnson Space Center’s Chamber A was an especially tough subject to shoot once Webb was inside. It required remote lights that had to be adjusted perfectly before I boarded a boom lift to make the photograph from seven stories up. It was all worth it, everyone’s hard work – just look at how well our starship is performing
      Chris Gunn
      NASA/GSFC Lead Photographer for Webb Telescope
      On June 20, 2017, Webb’s Optical Telescope Element and science instruments were loaded into the historic thermal vacuum testing facility known as “Chamber A” at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

      On Sept. 16, 2021, Webb was ready to be shipped to the launch site in French Guiana. Before Webb could be lifted into its shipping container, engineers and technicians at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, performed this first horizontal tilt of the fully assembled observatory. This never-before-seen image shows engineers and technicians disassembling ground hardware after completing one of the final lifts of the Webb observatory, before being placed atop ESA’s (European Space Agency) Ariane 5 rocket in French Guiana. This image was taken Nov. 11, 2021.

      “Liftoff – from a tropical rainforest to the edge of time itself, James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the universe.” Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket launched with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope aboard, Dec. 25, 2021, from the ELA-3 Launch Zone of Europe’s Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.

      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
      Right click the images in this article to open a version in a new tab/window that can be zoomed or saved.
      Media Contacts
      Thaddeus Cesari Thaddeus.cesari@nasa.gov, Laura Betz – laura.e.betz@nasa.gov, Rob Gutro– rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s  Goddard Space Flight Center, , Greenbelt, Md.
      Related Information
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      Webb is the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It studies every phase in the…





      Last Updated Dec 22, 2023 Editor Stephen Sabia Related Terms
      Astrophysics Goddard Space Flight Center James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Missions Science & Research View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 min read
      NASA’s Fermi Mission Creates 14-Year Time-Lapse of the Gamma-Ray Sky
      The cosmos comes alive in an all-sky time-lapse movie made from 14 years of data acquired by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Our Sun, occasionally flaring into prominence, serenely traces a path though the sky against the backdrop of high-energy sources within our galaxy and beyond.
      From solar flares to black hole jets: NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope team has produced a unique time-lapse tour of the dynamic high-energy sky. Fermi Deputy Project Scientist Judy Racusin narrates the movie, which compresses 14 years of gamma-ray observations into 6 minutes. Download high-resolution video and images from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA/DOE/LAT Collaboration “The bright, steady gamma-ray glow of the Milky Way is punctuated by intense, days-long flares of near-light-speed jets powered by supermassive black holes in the cores of distant galaxies,” said Seth Digel, a senior staff scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, who created the images. “These dramatic eruptions, which can appear anywhere in the sky, occurred millions to billions of years ago, and their light is just reaching Fermi as we watch.”
      Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light. The movie shows the intensity of gamma rays with energies above 200 million electron volts detected by Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) between August 2008 and August 2022. For comparison, visible light has energies between 2 and 3 electron volts. Brighter colors mark the locations of more intense gamma-ray sources.
      “One of the first things to strike your eye in the movie is a source that steadily arcs across the screen. That’s our Sun, whose apparent movement reflects Earth’s yearly orbital motion around it,” said Fermi Deputy Project Scientist Judy Racusin, who narrates a tour of the movie, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
      Most of the time, the LAT detects the Sun faintly due to the impact of accelerated particles called cosmic rays – atomic nuclei traveling close to the speed of light. When they strike the Sun’s gas or even the light it emits, gamma rays result. At times, though, the Sun suddenly brightens with powerful eruptions called solar flares, which can briefly make our star one of the sky’s brightest gamma-ray sources.
      The movie shows the sky in two different views. The rectangular view shows the entire sky with the center of our galaxy in the middle. This highlights the central plane of the Milky Way, which glows in gamma rays produced from cosmic rays striking interstellar gas and starlight. It’s also flecked with many other sources, including neutron stars and supernova remnants. Above and below this central band, we’re looking out of our galaxy and into the wider universe, peppered with bright, rapidly changing sources.
      Most of these are actually distant galaxies, and they’re better seen in a different view centered on our galaxy’s north and south poles. Each of these galaxies, called blazars, hosts a central black hole with a mass of a million or more Suns.
      Somehow, the black holes produce extremely fast-moving jets of matter, and with blazars we’re looking almost directly down one of these jets, a view that enhances their brightness and variability. “The variations tell us that something about these jets has changed,” Racusin said. “We routinely watch these sources and alert other telescopes, in space and on the ground, when something interesting is going on. We have to be quick to catch these flares before they fade away, and the more observations we can collect, the better we’ll be able to understand these events.”
      Fermi plays a key role in the growing network of missions working together to capture these changes in the universe as they unfold.
      Many of these galaxies are extremely far away. For example, the light from a blazar known as 4C +21.35 has been traveling for 4.6 billion years, which means that a flare up we see today actually occurred as our Sun and solar system were beginning to form. Other bright blazars are more than twice as distant, and together provide striking snapshots of black hole activity throughout cosmic time.
      Not seen in the time-lapse are many short-duration events that Fermi studies, such as gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful cosmic explosions. This is a result of processing data across several days to sharpen the images.
      The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership managed by Goddard. Fermi was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the United States.
      By Francis Reddy
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Media contact:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      (301) 286-1940

      Last Updated Dec 20, 2023 Related Terms
      Astrophysics Black Holes Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope Galaxies, Stars, & Black Holes Goddard Space Flight Center Origin & Evolution of the Universe Supermassive Black Holes The Sun The Universe Explore More
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    • By NASA
      Commander Jeff Williams poses for a photo in the Quest Airlock (A/L) with all of his mission patches. The patches are, from left, STS-101, Soyuz TMA-8, Expedition 13, Soyuz TMA-16, Expedition 21, Expedition 22, Soyuz TMA-20M, Expedition 47, and Expedition 48.Credit NASA Dec. 11, 2023
      RELEASE: J23-007
      NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey Williams, who played a key role in the design, construction, and operation of the International Space Station, is retiring on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, after more than 27 years of service at the agency.
      The two-time station commander spent 534 cumulative days in space spanning four trips to the space station. He spent nearly 32 hours outside of the orbital laboratory on five spacewalks.
      “Jeff’s dedication and commitment to advancing NASA’s mission for the benefit of all humanity is truly admirable,” said NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche. “His willingness to go above and beyond has impacted several generations and will continue to inspire future generations to come.”
      In addition to his time in space, he tested and evaluated the space station’s U.S. laboratory module Destiny during its final assembly at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, led the development of a space shuttle cockpit upgrade, worked in legislative affairs at NASA Headquarters in Washington, commanded a nine-day NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) mission in the Aquarius undersea habitat off the coast of Florida, and worked extensively in spacewalk development.
      Since 2017, he has been assistant director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Among his many accomplishments, he served as chair of the Multinational Crew Operations Panel, responsible for International Space Station crew assignments, qualifications, and training. Most recently, he served on a review board overseeing development of lunar surface projects for the Moon to Mars architecture.
      “I had the pleasure of working with Jeff from the very beginning of our careers – first in the earliest days of the space station, and now working together to put the next humans on the Moon,” said Norm Knight, director of flight operations, NASA Johnson. “Over the course of his 27 years with us, I’ve always admired his leadership, mentorship, and passion for all things spaceflight. He will be so missed, and I’m excited to see what comes next for him.”
      The Wisconsin native joined NASA Johnson on a four-year Army assignment supporting the Space Shuttle Program in 1987. He was selected to join the NASA astronaut class of 1996. His first mission was on the crew of STS-101, launching on space shuttle Atlantis for the third mission devoted to station construction. His first long duration mission was Expedition 13, launching in March 2006 on Soyuz TMA-8 and lasting six months as station construction resumed with the shuttle return-to-flight after the Columbia accident. For his third flight, Expeditions 21/22, Williams launched in October 2009 aboard Soyuz TMA-16 for another six-month stay – this time to integrate the station’s Tranquility module and its cupola to complete station construction. Williams’ final spaceflight launched in March 2016 on Soyuz TMA-20M for Expeditions 47/48 which saw the arrival of the station’s Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, the integration of an international docking adaptor for commercial crew spacecraft, and the continuation of science and technology demonstrations.
      “It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to work with the best team in the world here at NASA,” Williams said, “and to share in what has to be the greatest technological and operational achievement in human history – the International Space Station – designed and built in many different places and countries on the planet, assembled and integrated off the planet, and continually operated for now more than 25 years, all in the context of international partnership. I am incredibly grateful to the many friends, mentors, and coworkers I’ve been privileged to labor with, who span three generations and range from those who worked in the Apollo Program all the way to the newest team members now dedicated to returning to the Moon.”
      Overall, Williams lived and worked with 56 different individuals from eight different countries aboard the orbital outpost. His flights spanned 16 years of the space station’s assembly, construction, and emerging operational capability. He contributed to hundreds of scientific experiments and a broad spectrum of technology development projects.
      Prior to becoming an astronaut, Williams attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science and Engineering, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he earned a master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, where he earned a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He served in the 3rd Armored Division’s 503rd Aviation Battalion as an Army aviator in West Germany. He attended Naval Test Pilot School, graduating first in his class in 1992 and then served as an experimental test pilot before becoming an astronaut. He retired from Army active duty in 2007 with more than 27 years of military service and 3,100 hours in more than 50 different aircraft. His experience has spanned more than 47 years.
      Learn more about how NASA explores the unknown and innovates for the benefit of humanity at: https://www.nasa.gov/
      Chelsey Ballarte
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      The spectacular aurora borealis, or the “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the space station near the highest point of its orbital path. The station’s main solar arrays are seen in the left foreground.NASA The aurora borealis adds a bit of flair to our home planet in this image taken from the International Space Station on Sept. 15, 2017. This phenomenon happens because the Sun bathes Earth in a steady stream of energetic particles, magnetic fields and radiation that can stimulate our atmosphere and light up the night sky. When this happens in the Southern Hemisphere, it is called aurora australis.
      See how you can help track auroras around the world with the Aurorasaurus project. All you need is a cell phone or laptop.
      Image Credit: NASA

      View the full article
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