NASA has more cause to celebrate than discovering the possibility of life on Saturn’s Moon and four earth-sized planets. This year, the 28th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope is marked by gorgeous images and a fly-through video of a breathtaking accomplishment: the Lagoon Nebula.
Hubble, a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), launched on April 24, 1990. The ESA’s Hubble site describes the Lagoon Nebula as a “colossal object” that’s 55 light-years in width and 20 light-years in height. Even though it is about 4,000 light-years away from Earth, it is three times larger in the sky than the full Moon.
The entirety of the Lagoon Nebula cannot be completely captured by the images NASA released, showing only its heart. But the magnificence we can glimpse at is still mind-blowing. It joins a stellar line-up of the previous years’ anniversary explorations of the Hubble Space Telescope, including the Bubble Nebula and a pair of spiral galaxies. As part of the celebration, the Hubble site also publicizes some trivia for us:
Since its launch, the space telescope has made over 163,500 trips around Earth, more than 1.5 million observations of over 43,500 celestial objects and generated 153 terabytes of data.
28 years ago, the scientists and astronomers that were part of the core team for this project had soaring ambitions, and yet they probably never imagined the heights their Hubble Space Telescope would reach. What a remarkable feat for science. And today, with another dazzling nebula, what a remarkable reminder of how science allows us to see the beauty of the universe.
Lego’s transition into bio-plastics is probably one of their greatest achievements to date. Having said that, the company has inspired children (and adults!) to think big for decades. Its most recent collection honors the women of NASA, validating that success doesn’t rely on gender.
“In all realms of science, engineering, and technology, pioneering women have historically been underappreciated for their often groundbreaking work,”[MIT News Deputy Editor and Lecturer Maia Weinstock who proposed the idea] said in a statement.
This is truly a big move, considering how the usual Lego collection depicts fantastical universes like Star Wars or Minecraft. Not only is the company pandering to the interests of young girls now, they are doing so with an inspirational agenda.
The set’s figures include Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space, and Margaret Hamilton, who developed software for the Apollo spacecraft. It will also come with miniatures of the Hubble Telescope and Space Shuttle, among other tools. Lego hopes to encourage more girls to explore various branches of science.
[Weinstock added,] “We have also seen that when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas.”
Remember, girls — science is, of course, also for you. And forget “nerdy.” Microscopes and bunsen burners are the new “cool.”
Since the discovery of four Earth-sized planets along Tau Ceti, Mars-like community simulations are being set in motion. While space studies are progressing, new intergalactic breakthroughs may be calling for NASA to pick up the pace. The planet may not look much like Earth, but it appears to be the most potentially habitable — and it’s only 11 lightyears away.
“Those flares can sterilize the atmosphere of the planet,” said Xavier Bonfils of the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics in Grenoble, France… “Ross 128 is one of the quietest stars of the neighborhood.”
The planet’s mother star, Ross 128, is significantly calmer than most others, and minimally eruptive. Though astronomers have only managed to observe the planet with a telescope, the facts don’t lie. The planet is warm enough to sustain liquid water, and has since stabilized in its billions of years of existence.
The star may have been more turbulent in its youth. But even if solar flares billions of years ago stripped away the planet’s atmosphere, it could have been replenished by gases emanating from the planet’s interior.
Whatever the case, I’m glad to know that if our own planet bites the dust, there are others to hold future generations.
People never fail to impress me. I’ve seen million-dollar equipment built in the safety of one’s own home. Astronomy student Alex Pietrow is no exception. Using a Game Boy and antique telescope, Pietrow was able to photograph Jupiter, and clearly!
Pietrow used a Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter to attach the Game Boy Camera to the 6-inch’ Fraunhofer telescope in the Old Observatory of Leiden.
Pietrow set the sight of his late 90s Game Boy Camera a bit further… all the way to Jupiter. Surprisingly, the Game Boy Camera, which can capture black and white images at a 128×112 resolution… was able to capture not only Jupiter but also its four Galilean moons.
Way to put professional astronomers in their place! But the fun doesn’t stop there. Pietrow plans to use his invention to photograph Saturn as well.
If you’re interested in trying your hand at shooting celestial objects with your trusty Game Boy… you’re going to be in for a lot of work. Not only do you need a Game Boy and its Camera peripheral, but also a few devices meant to hack the Game Boy as well as either an installation of Windows XP on a computer with parallel port or some fiddling with drivers on Windows 7.
While I may not be smart enough to come up with anything like this, I do know that Pietrow is going places. He may even put billion-dollar telescope industries out of business!