Launched on October 15, 1997, NASA’s Cassini spacecraftNotes 1 went into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. Since then, it has taken thousands of photos of Saturn, the second-largest planet in the Solar System, its prominent rings, and moons. And On September 15, 2017, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrated. Here are the 20 most beautiful photos that the spacecraft has sent back to Earth during its 13-year voyage around the gas giant.
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External cameras on the International Space Station captured views during an its overhead passes of Hurricane Irma. Most intense Atlantic hurricane observed in over a decade, Hurricane Irma was an extremely powerful tropical cyclone, which became a Category 5 hurricane on September 5. It reached peak intensity with 185 mph (295 km/h) winds on September 6.
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On Monday, August 21, an estimated 2 million to 7.4 million Americans traveled to see the first total solar eclipse in 99 years to go coast to coast in the United States, which went from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. But, some of them were unlucky, as the weather was overcast in some places. But, luckily for them (and for us), NASA captured some amazing and beautiful images of the eclipse and published them on their web site.
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On September 1, 2017, a potentially hazardous asteroid named 3122 Florence skimmed past Earth from a mere 4.4 million miles (7 million km) distance. The huge asteroid, which is around 2.7 mile (4.4 km) wide, was the “biggest object passed this close to Earth since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began”, according to Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The close flyby was captured with an amateur astronomer using a 80 mm F5 Apo telescope and a Canon 6D camera, and published on youtube.
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On February 22, 2017, NASA astronomers has announced that seven Earth-sized planets have been discovered around an ultra-cool dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1 which is located around 39 light-years from the Earth. And what’s more – three of them are orbiting their star in the habitable zone. Then, an international team of astronomers led by the Swiss astronomer Vincent Bourrier from the Observatoire de l’Université de Genève used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate whether there might be water on the planets of TRAPPIST-1 system. Now, on August 31 2017, the team announced that their findings suggest that “the outer planets of the system might still harbor substantial amounts of water”, including the three planets within the habitable zone of the star – TRAPPIST-1e, f and g. This result lends further weight to the possibility that these planets may indeed be habitable.
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On June 19, 2017, NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates. The final catalog introduces 219 new exoplanet candidates, and 10 of them are near-Earth size and orbiting in circumstellar habitable zone.Notes 1
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Have you ever wondered what would Antarctica look like if all its ice melted? This may seem extraordinary and unlikely, but, this has actually happened in the past. In fact, there have been no major ice sheets over the South Pole for most of the Earth’s history.
In the video below, NASA Goddard strip away Antarctic ice to reveal a new, and much more detailed map of the bedrock below. This map, called Bedmap2, was compiled by the British Antarctic Survey and incorporates millions of new measurements, including substantial data sets from NASA’s ICESat satellite and an airborne mission called Operation IceBridge.
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An international team led by the Italian photographer Filippo Blengini created a 365-Gigapixel Panorama of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, and the gigantic image becomes the World’s largest photo. The previous record-holder, published in 2013, was a 320-gigapixel shot of London, taken from atop the BT Tower.
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We, humans, are changing our planet drastically that scientists say the world entered a completely a new geological era called “Anthropocene”. But, it seems we are not shaping only the surface and the atmosphere of Earth, human activities are changing our near-space environment as well. The change is so big that NASA has detected a human-made barrier surrounding Earth.
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We see images and videos from the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts floating in the space freely. They’re in the space, so there is no gravitational force of Earth there. So, that’s why astronauts float in space, right?
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