Satellites orbiting Earth (2013)
Covering the Space Program
NASA doesn’t need much help selling the idea that space is super-awesome, but these covers for manuals and press conference notes from the golden age of spaceflight sure don’t hurt. They are going up for auction later this month. I wouldn’t mind having one or two of those hanging in my house, eh?
Ten years ago on March 1, the European Space Agency launched an 8-ton satellite called Envisat that would deliver back to Earth some of the most beautiful images of our planet taken from space.
Since then, Envisat has orbited Earth more than 50,000 times and has lived twice as long as planned.
The satellite has more than seven instruments on board that can use radar to see through clouds, capture ocean color and land cover, monitor the ozone layer and atmospheric pollutants, measure thermal-infrared radiation, and register surface topography.
To celebrate the satellite’s 10th anniversary, Wired has selected a few of its most beautiful images for this gallery.
Good luck deciding which one to use as wallpaper for your computer desktop.
What if the sun never set?
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station occasionally experience that very phenomenon, and it’s captured in the video above in all its beautiful oddness. Here’s how it works:
The ISS doesn’t travel around the Earth’s middle. Rather, it follows a near-polar orbit. As it flies along its tilted north-south path, orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes, this orbit lets it see much more of the Earth beneath it. Occasionally, it happens to travel along the line between night and day, and that’s where this cool scene unfolds.
Along Earth’s “terminator” (the line between light and dark), if you looked out the window of the ISS you’d see the Sun dip in the sky, but climb again without setting.
In the video, the orbit begins east of London, then extends southward along the terminator until crossing near the South Pole. The ISS then orbits back up toward the north, hovering above the terminator in permanent daylight until it reaches a point just east of where it began.
The Earth’s terminator line:
(Video by NASACrewEarthObs)
(Photo: Chris Hadfield via Twitter)
Astronaut Chris Hadfield has made a name for himself as the International Space Station’s first Canadian commander, the“Singing Spaceman” and Star Trek skipper William Shatner’s Twitter buddy — but he’s also one heck of a photographer.
Space station to get insomnia-fighting light bulbs
NASA will replace the orbiting lab’s fluorescent bulbs with an array of LEDs switching between blueish, whitish and reddish light, according to the time of day.
This new global view and animation of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. It took satellite 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.