Tag Archives: Earth

Four Billion BCE: Battered Earth 

Illustration Credit: Simone Marchi (SwRI), SSERVI, NASA

 No place on Earth was safe. Four billion years ago, during the Hadean eon, our Solar System was a dangerous shooting gallery of large and dangerous rocks and ice chunks. Recent examination of lunar and Earth bombardment data indicate that the entire surface of the Earth underwent piecemeal upheavals, hiding our globe’s ancient geologic history, and creating a battered world with no remaining familiar land masses. The rain of devastation made it difficult for any life to survive, although bacteria that could endure high temperatures had the best chance. Oceans thought to have formed during this epoch would boil away after particularly heavy impacts, only to reform again. The above artist’s illustration depicts how Earth might have looked during this epoch, with circular impact features dotting the daylight side, and hot lava flows visible in the night. One billion years later, in a calmer Solar System, Earth’s first supercontinent formed.

NASA APOD 05-Aug-14

Light Pillars from a Little Planet

Image Credit & Copyright: Janne Voutilainen

Explanation: Eerie pillars of light ring the edges of this snowy little planet. Of course the little planet is planet Earth, shown in a nadir-to-zenith, around-the-horizon, little planet projection. The spherical panoramic image mosaic maps a view from Siilinjärvi in eastern Finland. Flat ice crystals, like those more often found in high, thin clouds, are gently fluttering in very cold air near the surface. The pillars of light appear as their briefly horizontal facets reflect upward directed light from ground sources downward, toward the observer. In fact, the fluttering crystals produce an effect analogous to the shimmering columns of moonlight or sunlight reflected by surface waves across water.

NASA APOD 31-Jan-2014

The Upper Michigan Blizzard of 1938

Image Credit: Bill Brinkman; Courtesy: Paula Rocco
Explanation: Yes, but can your blizzard do this? In Upper Michigan’s Storm of the Century in 1938, some snow drifts reached the level of utility poles. Nearly a meter of new and unexpected snow fell over two days in a storm that started 76 years ago tomorrow. As snow fell and gale-force winds piled snow to surreal heights; many roads became not only impassable but unplowable; people became stranded; cars, school buses and a train became mired; and even a dangerous fire raged. Fortunately only two people were killed, although some students were forced to spend several consecutive days at school. The above image was taken by a local resident soon after the storm. Although all of this snow eventually melted, repeated snow storms like this help build lasting glaciers in snowy regions of our planet Earth.

NASA APOD 22-Jan-2014

Reflections on Planet Earth

Image Credit: Michael Fossum, STS-121 Mission, NASA
Catching sight of your reflection in a store window or shiny hubcap can be entertaining and occasionally even inspire a thoughtful moment. So consider this reflective view from 300 kilometers above planet Earth. The picture is actually a self-portrait taken by astronaut Michael Fossum on July 8, 2006 during a space walk or extravehicular activity while the Discovery orbiter was docked with the International Space Station. Turning his camera to snap a picture of his own helmet visor, he also recorded the reflection of his fellow mission specialist, Piers Sellers, near picture center and one of the space station’s gold-tinted solar power arrays arcing across the top. Of course, the horizon of our fair planet lies in background.

NASA APOD 02-Jan-13

Gamma-Ray Earth and Sky


Image Credit: International Fermi Large Area Telescope Collaboration, NASA, DOE

For an Earth-orbiting gamma-ray telescope, Earth is actually the brightest source of gamma-rays, the most energetic form of light. Gamma-rays from Earth are produced when high energy particles, cosmic rays from space, crash into the atmosphere. While that interaction blocks harmful radiation from reaching the surface, those gamma-rays dominate in this remarkable Earth and sky view from the orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope’s Large Area Telescope. The image was constructed using only observations made when the center of our Milky Way galaxy was near the zenith, directly above the Fermi satellite. The zenith is mapped to the center of the field. The Earth and points near the nadir, directly below the satellite, are mapped to the edges of the field resulting in an Earth and all-sky projection from Fermi’s orbital perspective. The color scheme shows low intensities of gamma-rays as blue and high intensities as yellowish hues on a logarithmic scale. Our fair planet’s brighter gamma-ray glow floods the edges of field, the high intensity yellow ring tracing Earth’s limb.Gamma-ray sources in the sky along the relatively faint Milky Way stretch diagonally across the middle. Launched June 11, 2008 to explore the high-energy Universe, this week Fermi celebrated its 2,000th day in low Earth orbit.

NASA APOD. December, 06 2013

Earth from the ISS

NASA / Astronaut Ron Garan The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, it follows the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations, and Skylab from the U.S. The ISS is a modular structure whose first component was launched in 1998. Now the largest artificial body in orbit, it can often be seen at the appropriate time with the naked eye from Earth. The ISS consists of pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components. ISS components have been launched by American Space Shuttles as well as Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets. Budget constraints led to the merger of three space station projects with the Japanese Kibō module and Canadian robotics. In 1993 the partially built components for a Soviet/Russian space station Mir-2, the proposed American Freedom, and the proposed European Columbus merged into a single multinational programme. The ISS is arguably the most expensive single item ever constructed. The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology,human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields. The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars.


Pictures from board the ISS (The International Space Station), habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.
Autor: André Kuipers, a Dutch physician and ESA astronaut.

Carpe noctem


Images by NASA