Miss NASA 1971 in the Apollo 8 at the Glen Research Center

Miss NASA Beauty Pageant

Did you know NASA had some sort of Miss NASA beauty pageant? I have found very little information on the pageant but below are all the pictures I could find of Miss NASA (click for high-resolution images, as always). It appears the pageant ran from at least 1968 through 1973. I wasn’t able to find any images of Miss NASA 1972. In fact I’m not really sure there was one. The pageants seem like they might be loosely tied to specific NASA research centers (The Glen Research Center and Lewis Research Center specifically). Does anybody have any more information on this?

Update: According to doctorlinda: Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, in an opening keynote speech at NASA’s March 8th “Women@NASA” conference, did acknowledge that NASA held a “Miss NASA beauty contest” in 1968.

Miss NASA 1968/69
Miss NASA 1968/1969 with RL-10 engine display. Rocket Operations Building, Rob Control Room. Read More

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field
Image courtesy of NASA

NASA has recently released a new Deep Field image called eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) that improves on the older Ultra Deep Field (UDF) image. The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen. This image is a composite of nearly ten years worth of photographic exposures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope – over 2,000 photographs totaling 22.5 days worth of total exposure time. Nearly everything you see in the picture is a galaxy containing billions of stars.

The new full-color XDF image reaches much fainter galaxies and includes very deep exposures in red light from Hubble’s new infrared camera, enabling new studies of the earliest galaxies in the universe. The XDF contains about 5,500 galaxies even within its smaller field of view [than the UDF]. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.

The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and the XDF reveals galaxies that span back 13.2 billion years in time. Most of the galaxies in the XDF are seen when they were young, small, and growing, often violently as they collided and merged together. The early universe was a time of dramatic birth for galaxies containing brilliant blue stars extraordinarily brighter than our sun. The light from those past events is just arriving at Earth now, and so the XDF is a “time tunnel into the distant past.” The youngest galaxy found in the XDF existed just 450 million years after the universe’s birth in the big bang.

Click on the image above for the gigantic 1.4MB image. And keep looking up.

Big Blue Marble

NASA has recently published highest resolution image of the Earth from space ever. The 64-megapixel image of Earth was captured by the VIIRS instrument on NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, the Suomi NPP. You can read more about the Suomi NPP at its official website.

Most Amazing High Definition Image of Earth - Blue Marble 2012
Photo via NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Make sure to see this sucker full size to really appreciate the details and download it for your desktop. We all live in a beautiful place.

Monster Prominence

Yesterday (Feb. 24, 2011), a rather large flare (M 3.6 class coronal mass ejection) occurred near the edge of the Sun. It blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period . In the words of to the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft . Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless. Sit back and enjoy the jaw-dropping solar show.

Per usual, this video is also best enjoyed full screen.

Silver Lining

The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) here in Boulder, Colorado has issued an alert. The alert states that recently there have been large solar explosions (coronal mass ejections is what the scientists call them) on the sun. These flares are creating large x-ray bursts. The SEC (Space Environment Center) issues alerts at the M5 (5x10E-5 Watts/m2) and X1 (1x10E-4 Watts/m2) levels. As you can see here, this has happened three times in the past two days. Below is a photo of one of todays flares. Here is a great video (mpeg), constantly updated, of the sun’s activity.

There have been over 18 alerts given by the SEC during the last two days for large x-ray and radio-wave bursts. Strong solar radio bursts (those M5 and greater) may cause major disruptions in satellite and other spacecraft operations, power systems (thus knocking out electric power), high frequency communications, and navigation systems. High altitude aircraft crews and passengers on polar routs are also susceptible to radiation hazards during similar events. However, there is one cool bonus effect of coronal mass ejections… the northern lights become much more spectacular and even visible from the northern US.