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Launch of New Horizons
The New Horizons spacecraft begins a voyage across the solar system to explore Pluto and beyond with its successful launch January 19 aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and his deputy Shana Dale hold a news conference at Kennedy Space Center in the final hours of the countdown to the New Horizons launch. Questions from reporters ranged from the Pluto-bound mission, the agency's budget and the space shuttle program.
STS-32: LDEF retrieval
Space shuttle Columbia's mission in January 1990 sought to retrieve the Long Duration Exposure Facility -- a bus-size platform loaded with 57 experiments -- that had been put into orbit six years earlier. LDEF was supposed to be picked up within a year of its launch. But plans changed and then the Challenger accident occurred. Columbia's STS-32 crew got into space, deployed a Navy communications satellite, then fulfilled their LDEF recovery mission, carried out a host of medical tests and returned to Earth with a nighttime touchdown in the California desert. The crew presents this post-flight film of mission highlights.
NASA through the decades
This film looks at the highlights in NASA's history from its creation in the 1950s, through the glory days of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, birth of the space shuttle and the loss of Challenger, launch of Hubble and much more.
The mark of a dying star NASA/JPL PHOTO RELEASE Posted: January 24, 2006
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA Download larger image version here
Six hundred and fifty light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, a dead star about the size of Earth, is refusing to fade away peacefully. In death, it is spewing out massive amounts of hot gas and intense ultraviolet radiation, creating a spectacular object called a "planetary nebula."
In this false-color image, NASA's Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes have teamed up to capture the complex structure of the object, called the Helix nebula, in unprecedented detail. The composite picture is made up of visible data from Hubble and infrared data from Spitzer.
The dead star, called a white dwarf, can be seen at the center of the image as a white dot. All of the colorful gaseous material seen in the image was once part of the central star, but was lost in the death throws of the star on its way to becoming a white dwarf. The intense ultraviolet radiation being released by the white dwarf is heating and destabilizing the molecules in its surrounding environment, starting from the inside out.
Like an electric stovetop slowly heating up from the center first, the hottest and most unstable gas molecules can be seen at the center of the nebula as wisps of blue. The transition to more stable and cooler molecules is clearly depicted as the color of the gas changes from very hot (blue) to hot (yellow) and warm (red).
A striking feature of the Helix, first revealed by ground-based images, is its collection of thousands of filamentary structures, or strands of gas. In this image the filaments can be seen under the transparent blue gas as red lines radiating out from the center. Astronomers believe that the molecules in these filaments are able to stay cooler and more stable because dense clumps of materials are shielding them from ultraviolet radiation.
This image is a composite showing ionized H-alpha (green) and O III (blue) gases from the Hubble Space Telescope, and molecular hydrogen (red) from Spitzer observations at 4.5 and 8.0 microns.