Space Image of the Day Gallery


Post 8687

Space Image of the Day Gallery

Image of the Day Archives

Credit: NASA, ESA and Orsola De Marco (Macquarie University)

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission to Touch the Sun Explained (Infographic)


Post 8686

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission to Touch the Sun Explained (Infographic)

Partner Series
NASA's Parker Solar Probe Mission to Touch the Sun Explained (Infographic)

NASA aims to launch its sun-studying Parker Solar Probe in July 2018.

Credit: Jef Castro/Space.com

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission, which is scheduled to launch in July 2018, will come within 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) of the sun — seven times closer than any other spacecraft ever has.

The specially shielded Parker Solar Probe will have to endure temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) and solar radiation intensities 475 times higher than we’re used to here on Earth.

If all goes according to plan, the Parker Solar Probe will zoom close to the sun 24 times between 2018 and 2025, gathering a variety of data about the sun’s structure and magnetic and electric fields, as well as the energetic particles cruising near and away from Earth’s star. This information could help researchers solve two longstanding mysteries: How the solar wind is accelerated and why the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, is so much hotter than the solar surface, NASA officials have said.

Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook

1st American in Orbit: How John Glenn (And NASA) Made History (Infographic)


Post 8685

1st American in Orbit: How John Glenn (And NASA) Made History (Infographic)

 1st American in Orbit: How John Glenn (And NASA) Made History (Infographic)
John Glenn’s Mercury mission was the first American space flight around the world.

Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor

When NASA launched astronaut John Glenn into orbit on Feb. 20, 1962, the U.S. joined the realm of orbital spaceflight and never looked back. Seven years later, the first Americans would land on the moon. See how NASA made the leap into orbital spaceflight with Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 spaceflight in the SPACE.com inforgrahic above.

 John Glenn died on Dec. 8, 2016 at age 95. Read our full obituary here.

Explorer 1: How the First American Satellite Worked (Infographic)


Post 8684

Explorer 1: How the First American Satellite Worked (Infographic)

Partner Series
Explorer 1: How the First American Satellite Worked (Infographic)

On Jan. 31, 1958, the United States launched its first successful satellite: Explorer 1. See how the historic mission worked in this infographic.

Credit: John Wong/Space.com

On Jan. 31, 1958, the United States launched its first successful satellite:Explorer 1. It was the American answer to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1, which kicked off the Space Age when it launched in 1957.

Explorer 1 launched on a U.S. Army Juno rocket, also known as Jupiter-C, and marked the first space mission to carry a scientific instrument into space. The satellite weighed 30 lbs., 18 lbs. of which was science gear like cosmic ray detectors, temperature sensors and a microphone to hear micrometeorites that might hit the satellite.

Explorer 1: The First American Satellite in Pictures

The U.S. used Explorer 1 as its contribution to the International Geophysical Year (which ran from 1957 to 1958). The satellite was originally slated to launch on U.S. Navy’s Vanguard rocket, but it exploded moments after launch, garnering nicknames like “Kaptunik” in media headlines. The Army’s Jupiter-C, developed as a ballistic missile.

The Jupiter-C rocket delivered Explorer 1 into an orbit that ranged between 220 miles to 1,563 miles above Earth. It beamed data to Earth for four months, going silent on May 23. The satellite re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on March 31, 1970 and burned up.

Explorer 1’s main instrument was a cosmic ray detector designed by James Van Allen of the State University of Iowa. The experiment discovered evidence of radiation belts around Earth, now called Van Allen Belts, that marked the first scientific discovery in space.

The Van Allen Belts are doughnut-shaped regions of high-energy particles held in place by Earth’s magnetic field. They serve as a buffer, preventing cosmic rays from bombarding Earth, and may have played a role in making Earth habitable for life, NASA has said.

In 2012, NASA launched the Van Allen Probes to study the Van Allen radiation belts in detail.