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Posts Tagged ‘Hubble Space Telescope’

Swift Detects Most Distant Object In The Universe! AGAIN!

May 25th, 2011 2 comments

Now where have we heard THAT news before? For aficionados of NASA’s Swift satellite, or even space science and astronomy in general, this headline probably rings a few bells. Like this one for example, announced on April 28, 2009:

New Gamma-Ray Burst Smashes Cosmic Distance Record

But what many of you may not be aware of is that, within 24 hours of the April 28 headline, Swift detected yet another gamma-ray burst (the death-throes of a massive star), which was even more distant. Why didn’t you know? Well, because we didn’t either!

image of GRB 090429b
A Gemini Observatory color image of the afterglow of GRB 090429B, a candidate for the most distant object in the universe. This “izH” image has been constructed from three images taken at the Gemini Observatory North telescope through different optical and infrared filters. The red color results from the absence of all optical light, which has been absorbed by hydrogen gas in the distant universe. Without that absorption, the afterglow color would be bluer than any of the galaxies and stars seen here. (Credit: Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NASA/ Levan, Tanvir, Cucchiara, Fox)

The explosion, termed GRB 090429B, was detected on April 29, 2009, by Swift. Nino Cucchiara and his then-PhD supervisor Derek Fox, along with collaborators including Nial Tanvir and Andrew Levan from the UK, observed the GRB with the 8-meter Gemini telescope in Hawai’i, and found that it was red. Very red.

Now this can mean two things: either it’s a really long way away, or it went off in a really dusty galaxy. So Nino and collaborators asked the Gemini operators to take a spectrum of the source, which would provide a measurement of the object’s distance.

Unfortunately, even on Hawai’i, astronomers are at the mercy of the weather. And just as Gemini prepared to take the spectrum, the weather turned and observing was impossible. By the next observing opportunity, the GRB was too faint to take a usable spectrum.

Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story, but it made the job much harder. Now, after two years of hard graft, and observations with Gemini and with the Hubble Space Telescope, Nino and collaborators have released their findings. And the cosmic record holder has fallen!

Well, probably. Their result shows, based on analysis of the images, that there is a 99.3 percent likelihood that this object was more distant that GRB 090423 — the object being trumpeted just before this star exploded. The precise distance is not known because of the lack of spectrum, but there is a 98.9 percent chance that is lies further away than a galaxy discovered in 2010 — 13.07 billion light years away — which surpassed April 2009′s GRB 090423 as the most distant known object. Whether it is the farthest object ever seen is not entirely clear: a galaxy detected in 2011 may lie a little further away…. or may actually not be a distant object at all.

Either way, this new result is another triumph for GRB science, for Swift and the optical and infrared facilities like Gemini, and above all for the hard-working determination of the scientists studying these enigmatic phenomena.

Follow Phil Evans on twitter: @swift_phil

Has-been: In 2008, GRB 080319b had it's 15 minutes of fame as the farthest known object in the universe.

A gamma-ray burst is a tremendous release of energy triggered by the collapse of a massive star.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


That Was the Week that Was, January 24-28, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 28th, 2011 Comments off



voyager image of planet uranusMONDAY January 24: Twenty-five years ago today, in 1986, Voyager 2 made its closest approach – within 81,500 kilometers (50,600 miles) of the cloud tops of Uranus.

MABEL’s maiden voyage: An instrument team from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is using the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL) to test a technique that will someday fly on a satellite to measure Earth’s surface with great precision.

More awesomeness: The NASA Blueshift blog comments on wintry weather at Goddard, the Optimus Prime video contest, blazing galaxies, and the latest 2012 apocalypse foolishness.


TUESDAY January 25: On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan made an Apollo-like announcement to build a Space Station within a decade as part of the State of the Union Address before Congress. What came to be called Space Station Freedom evolved into a new program: the International Space Station, now complete after $100 billion and 11 years of construction — and 27 years since Reagan’s announcement. Early concepts for the station look nothing like today’s ISS.

“America has always been greatest when we dared to be great. We can reach for greatness again. We can follow our dreams to distant stars, living and working in space for peaceful, economic, and scientific gain. Tonight, I am directing NASA to develop a permanently manned space station and to do it within a decade.”— President Ronald Reagan, 1984.



MD_spacestation_PANORAMA

satellite image of arkhangelsk in russia New eyes on the sky: On this day in 1983, NASA launched the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) mission. During its ten months of operation, IRAS scanned more than 96 percent of the sky four times, discovering a half-million new infrared sources for subsequent exploration and discovery.

Go to the SORCE: On this day in 2003, NASA launched the SOlar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite to mske precise measurements of the amount of energy Earth receives from the sun.

Russian beauty: The ASTER Featured Image released today shows Arkhangelsk (or Archangel in English), the administrative capital of Archangelsk Oblast, Russia. It is situated on both banks of the Dvina River near where it flows into the White Sea.

My darling Clementine: On this day in 1994, NASA launched the joint Department of Defense/NASA Clementine mission. It mapped most of the lunar surface at a number of resolutions and wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared.


WEDNESDAY January 26: The leading NASA science news of the week: The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the most distant object ever seen in the universe.

Bright idea: Beautiful night shining clouds grace the NASA Earth Observatory Featured Image today.


chart of distant galaxy discoveries by hubble space telescope

THURSDAY January 27: Today NASA holds a Day of Remembrance for the space explorers who died in the line of duty on Apollo 1 and the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 crew of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a fire in the Apollo Command Module during a preflight test at Cape Canaveral. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. On February 1, 2003, the shuttle Columbia was lost shortly before landing.

“The last week of January every year brings us the opportunity to reflect on the sobering realities of our space exploration enterprise. Each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement. Today, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA Family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.” — Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator



red rover cartoon referring to deceased astronauts


FASTSAT update: Two of FASTSAT’s three instruments are collecting data; a third comes online February 1.

A blast: NASA Earth Observatory features the latest image of the eruption of Mexico’s Colima Volcano.


FRIDAY January 28: See the latest images and video of this week’s East Coast snow storm!
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

Hubble hits the Red Limit. Next up: Webb Telescope

January 26th, 2011 Comments off

hubble space telescope in orbit
The day had to come, and we all knew it. Hubble Space Telescope has been squinting for years, and now it’s reached the limit of its power to see back to the earliest epochs of cosmic time. As in Cosmic Time, or the amount of time elapsed since the Big Bang.

Today, a team of scientists made this exciting announcement:

SANTA CRUZ, CA–Astronomers studying ultra-deep imaging data from the Hubble Space Telescope have found what may be the most distant galaxy ever seen, about 13.2 billion light-years away. The study pushed the limits of Hubble’s capabilities, extending its reach back to about 480 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was just 4 percent of its current age.

A story on Bad Astronomy explains the details, as does a NASA press release and one from the University of California, Santa Cruz. And the First Galaxies website provides even deeper scientific background in plain English.

As light from a distant galaxy speeds toward us, it gets stretched, or “redshifted,” by the expansion of space itself. Astronomers measure redshift with a quantity called “z.” The paper in Nature reports a redshift of z=10. 3. The first galaxies probably formed 200 to 300 million years post-Big Bang, which is more z’s than Hubble can deliver. To get to that redshift, Hubble would need instruments that can see even redder — more redshifted — light than it can now. So, in short, Hubble is at the “red limit” of what it can see.

I asked Jason Tumlinson, a galaxy researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute to explain:

“My opinion is that we’re very near the limits of what HST can do in terms of pushing back the redshift frontier, and in fact have been operating at HST’s limits for several years. Everything depends on the performance of the cameras, and the major upgrade provided by the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) in 2009 has made a big difference.”

The upgraded WFC3 was installed on Hubble during the final servicing mission in May 2009.

I asked Amber Straughn, a Goddard astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory and a member of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) team, to explain why Hubble has reached the “red limit” of its seeing ability:

“The short answer is, at z~10, we are AT the limit of HST’s ability to look back in time. The reason for this is simply due to HST’s wavelength coverage. The light from these very distant galaxies is very, very red — and HST’s (Wide Field Camera 3) filters cut off at around 1.7 microns. . . .That’s the ‘red limit’ of HST.”

See Dr. Straughn talk to a TV reporter about the Webb Telescope.

Another issue, Tumlinson says, is the amount of Hubble telescope time available. The light-sensing detectors on Hubble contribute a certain amount of electronic “noise” that can swamp the signal from whatever you happen to be observing. To overcome this, astronomers have to schedule enough “Hubble time” to make sure the signal from the astronomical target is sufficiently stronger than the background noise – sort of like the way you have to raise your voice to be heard in a noisy room.

Tumlinson explains:

“The detector itself adds noise to the measurement — called readout noise, generally — which is an important factor in setting the faintest observable source. Of course, HST users could go deeper and push further with longer observations so that they collect more source counts relative to this noise term, but only so much time is available. “

NASA and the scientific community saw Hubble’s red limit coming. So they invented the James Webb Space Telescope. With its huge collecting mirror — 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter — and ultrasensitive infrared detectors, Webb can see longer, redder wavelengths of light, and “redder” translates to “more distant.”

Tumlinson explains:

“Discovering galaxies at high redshift is one of the top reasons NASA is building JWST. Being much larger and optimized for this sort of work, Webb should make z ~ 10 detections routine, and could push the frontier to z = 12, 15, or even higher.”

Z=15 is around 275 million years after the Big Bang — the sweet spot for observing the first stars and galaxies forming. Stay tuned!

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

Gogblogcast #5: Marc Kuchner and the Search for Other Earths

January 20th, 2011 Comments off




Marc Kuchner is an astrophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center who studies planetary systems around other stars. As he explains in this video, the trouble is that when you point a telescope — even one as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope — at a star with a planetary system, you can’t see the actual planets very clearly. At best you see a glowing dot.

But what you CAN see very clearly is the thin dusty disk that occupies a vast volume of space around the star. Our solar system has one, too: It’s called the zodiacal cloud.

Marc and his students — most notably, Christopher Stark, now at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. — have developed computer simulations of planetary dust. This is what the simulations show: Although it may be some time before we have a space telescope powerful enough to directly image the face of an alien planet, we should be able to detect the presence of planets by the effects they have on dusty disks. Most likely those planetary telltales will be structures such as rings and dimples.

Want to know more about dust simulations? See a previous gogblog post and the computer visualization below for the details.

By the way, when Marc mentions during the interview that there are “about 400 planets known,” it was accurate. But since this interview was recorded, the count has risen to 500!


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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



That Was The Week that Was, January 10-14, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 14th, 2011 Comments off

image of coronal hole on sunOn January 10, the Solar Dynamics Observatory snapped this image of the sun in extreme ultraviolet light, capturing a dark coronal hole.

image of hanny's voorwerpMONDAY January 10: Observations of distant galaxies help solve a centuries-old molecular mystery.

Gateway to space: Goddard scientist Harley Thronson, University of Texas partner Dan Lester, and aerospace industry colleague Ted Talay explain today in the Space Review how the United States can maintain a presence in space after the Shuttle and the ISS programs conclude.

Hanny’s what? You probably can’t pronounce it correctly, but the Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a picture of Hanny’s Voorwerp.

Hubble says: Tiny red dwarf stars, smaller than our sun, can unleash powerful eruptions that may release the energy of more than 100 million atomic bombs.

Fermi surprise: Thunderstorms spew antimatter into space!


TUESDAY January 11: The latest Earth-observing satellite developed by NASA, Glory, arrived Tuesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for a Feb. 23 launch.

Tropical storm warning: NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over the low pressure area known as System 93P in the Southern Pacific Ocean early today and saw rainfall already occurring over Vanuatu.


photo of snow on plant stemWEDNESDAY January 12: Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record. And also get the science behind the news: Do annual temperature rankings matter?

Inconstant Crab: X-ray emission from the Crab Nebula is weakening.

Magnificent magnification: As many as 20 percent of the most distant galaxies currently detected appear brighter than they actually are because of the magnifying effect of gravity from other galaxies.

Comet rendezvous: On this day in 2005, NASA launched Deep Impact, the first space mission to probe beneath the surface of a comet. Six months later, on July 3, the spacecraft jettisoned an impactor that crashed into comet Tempel 1. The crash provided the most up-close data and images of a comet in the history of space exploration.

The white stuff: Goddard gets a light dusting of the white stuff. It was no Snowpocalypse, but it was pretty.


photograph of technician and webb telescope mirrorsTHURSDAY January 13: On this day in 1997, NASA scientists announced the discovery of three black holes in three normal galaxies, suggesting that nearly all galaxies may harbor supermassive black holes.

La Nina: A new Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite image of the Pacific Ocean captures stronger La Nina cooling in the Pacific.

Two-faced: Hubble Space Telescope captures two radically different views of the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Not-so-heavy metal video: Learn about beryllium, the wonder metal at the heart of the Webb Telescope.

ICESat away: On this day in 2003, NASA launched the ICESat mission. It was the first mission specifically designed to study Earth’s polar regions with a space-based laser altimeter. The mission led to advances in measuring changes in the mass of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, polar sea ice thickness, vegetation-canopy heights, and the heights of clouds and aerosol particles. The ICESat mission ended in February 2010 with the failure of the last of its three lasers. After a controlled maneuver to bring the craft out of orbit, ICESat entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Barents Sea on August 30, 2010. A follow-on mission, ICESat-2, is slated for launch in 2015.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


That Was The Week That Was, August 16-20, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

August 20th, 2010 Comments off

ocean bloom

ocean bloom

MONDAY AUGUST 16: MODIS Image of the Day posts beautific satellite snapshot of microscopic plant life in the oceans blooming off the coast of Newfoundland.

On the edge: The IBEX spacecraft reports from the electrifying edge of Earth’s magnetic bubble.

More awesomeness: NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Roundup revisits a recent Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discovery, the Perseid meteor shower, and a visit to Goddard by the local Fox TV station.

home sweet home

home sweet home

TUESDAY AUGUST 17: On the Goddard Flickr gallery, the latest GOES-13 satellite full disk view of Earth.

Billions and billions: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Facebook page reports that the LOLA surface mapping instrument has shot more than a billion pulses of laser light at the moon’s surface.

Pulsar discovery: NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) sees the first fast X-ray pulsar to be eclipsed by its companion star.

More about RXTE: On NASA Blueshift, blogger Maggie Masetti takes a close look at two recent discoveries made using data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer.

From Russia with science: NASA scientists trek (and blog) from Western Siberia on the Earth Observatory’s Notes From The Field.

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 18: NASA Blueshift ponders whether Hubble Space Telescope should go to a museum.

THURSDAY AUGUST 19: The Dawn spacecraft is now less than a year from arriving at asteroid Vesta. Read all about it on Science@NASA:

Honey, they shrunk the moon: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter finds evidence of a cooling, contracting lunar crust.


Grab that Miracle-Gro! Decline in global plant growth documented by NASA satellites.

Earth buzz: The What On Earth blog highlights steamy July temps, the lowdown on the shakedown in the Gulf, and our planet in its grayest and gloomiest glory


FRIDAY AUGUST 20: On this day 35 years ago, Viking 1 left for Mars.

What On Earth Is That? NASA Earth blogger Adam Voiland posts another mystery image waiting for you to identify. Looks like dried mud flats to me. . .

Get a GRIP: Visit NASA hurricane scientists inside the DC-8 as it flew into the remnants of Tropical Depression Five over southern Louisiana.

Viking 1 gazes out at the surafce of Mars. . .

Viking 1 gazes out at the surafce of Mars. . .

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


That Was The Week That Was, August 9-13, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

August 13th, 2010 Comments off

majestic spiral

majestic spiral

MONDAY AUGUST 9: NASA Earth Observatory has a new blog: Elegant Figures. . . EO’s lead data visualizer, Robert Simmon, will write about how he makes data and information clear and beautiful.

frozen fall: The Aqua satellite watches as nearly 97 square miles of ice breaks off Greenland’s Petermann Glacier.

blueshift’s gotchu: NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round Up spotlights the Hubble Gotchu Guy media frenzy, the wild week of storm sun headlines, and the cover story in the September 2010 Astronomy magazine about the James Webb Space Telescope by Goddard science writer Frank Reddy.

TUESDAY AUGUST 10: NASA image release highlights a majestic spiral galaxy captured gloriously by the Hubble Space Telescope.

solar turmoil: The Solar Dynamics Observatory YouTube page spotlights a video of turmoil on the sun’s surface in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

stormy sun

stormy sun

apollo’s scout: On this day in 1966, NASA launched Lunar Orbiter 1 to scout the moon’s surface for Surveyor and Apollo landing sites.

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 11: On the NASA Blueshift blog, Goddard intern Faith Tucker writes about the dinosaur-astronomy connection.

the roaming stones: Goddard science writer Liz Zubritsky profiles the daring NASA interns who stalked mysterious wandering stones in Death Valley this summer.

water bear cowboy: Geeked On Goddard profiles one of the Death Valley interns, Kris Schwebler, and his research on tiny “water bears” and how they survive drying, hard vacuum, and radiation.

THURSDAY AUGUST 12: In a new video profile, meet astrobiologist Joe Nuth who says scientists are just like everyone else, but a little nerdier.


roaming stones

roaming stones



shocking! The Fermi Telescope discovers that a supernova’s little cousin can emit gamma rays. The press release includes a slick video visualizing a white dwarf star sucking gas off its neighbor and flaring into a nova.

nova hunters: Meanwhile, Geeked On Goddard profiles the duo of dedicated amateur astronomers in Japan who first alerted the world to the gamma ray nova.

night time at goddard: In the latest issue of Goddard View, read about Milky J’s appearance, the recent Space Shuttle crew visit, and Goddard’s Edward Cheung, the newly dubbed Knight of the Royal Order of the Netherlands Lion.

yes, there IS an echo in here: 50 years ago today, NASA launched Echo 1, the first passive communications satellite.

total recon: Also on this day, five years ago, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched.

contrails away! In the What On Earth blog, NASA Langley Research Center’s Lin Chambers writes about contrails formed by rocket exhaust plumes.

sunset sequence

sunset sequence



FRIDAY AUGUST 13: The Earth Science Picture of the Day features a spectacular sunset sequence by Oregon photographer Randall Scholten.

russian fires: NASA’s Terra Satellite Sees Intense Fires and Smoke Over Western Russia.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


Gogblog Monday Video Rewind Picture Show: Into the chamber of horrors with Goddard engineer Kevin Boyce

August 9th, 2010 Comments off



“Welcome — to NASA’s spacecraft chamber of horrors!”

And so begins a really clever video by Goddard producer Michael D. McClare. It’s  about the nasty-but-necessary things we do to satellites and spacecraft on the ground to make sure they work as planned in space.

We shake them, freeze them, expose them to vacuum, bathe them in radio waves, spin them on a giant centrifuge, and blast them with sound waves. In this video, Goddard engineer Kevin Boyce channels Vincent Price and gives you a tongue-in-cheek tour of the spacecraft test facilities Goddard. You almost expect Boyce to burst out in malevolent chuckling as they strap a big piece of equipment onto a hydraulic stress-testing machine, which Boyce refers to as “the rack.”

Bruhahahahaha!

Download a higher-resolution version of the video to get the full effect of McClare’s excellent work.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



That Was The Week That Was, August 1-6, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

August 6th, 2010 Comments off

snakey clouds

snakey clouds

SUNDAY AUGUST 1: The Modis Image of the Day shows serpentine vortices of air flow around and over the island of Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic.

STORMY SUN: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and STEREO spacecraft observe a complex disturbance on the sun. This releases a blast of magnetically charged plasma, heading toward Earth.

MONDAY AUGUST 2: Hubble Gotchu Guy “Milky J” airs his new video on the Jimmy Fallon show. Filmed at Goddard’s massive Building 7-10-15-29 complex, the video features gang-signing NASA scientists and Milky J’s signature dry wit as he confronts the looming threat of the Webb Telescope to his beloved Hubble.

AWESOME-O-LICIOUS: NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round-Up sports a cool video tour of the lunar surface based on Clementine data and other morsels of image and video from NASA.

TUESDAY AUGUST 3: A coronal mass ejection from the sun slams into Earth’s magnetic field, igniting a significant geomagnetic storm. Aurora spotters in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Maine, Canada, and Alaska report Northern Lights shows. The show continues the following night.

Milky J Posse

Milky J posse

MILKY J PIX: A NASA Blueshift blog post by Maggie Masetti features a gaggle of behind-the-scenes photos of the filming of Milky J’s new Hubble Gotchu Guy video. . . ME TOO! And on the (ahem) Geeked On Goddard blog, writer and NASA web commando Robert Garner provides another perspective on Milky J’s history making visit to Goddard.

EGYPTIAN SKIES: Pyramids, the space station, the moon, and planets grace today’s Earth science picture of the day.

HERMEAN HOLIDAY: Six years ago today, NASA launched the MESSENGER spacecraft to Mercury.

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 4: Earth Observatory posts a Terra satellite image of the Pakistani city of Kheshgi, “awash in floodwater,” like other devastated areas of the country’s Northwest.

THURSDAY AUGUST 5: The Pinoy Achiever’s blog spotlights Josefino Comiso, a senior scientist at the Cryospheric Sciences Branch of the Goddard Space Flight Center. The blog celebrates the successes of Philippinos. (“Pinoy” is a word Philippinos use to refer to themselves.)

80 SMALL LEAPS: Happy 80th birthday, Neil Armstrong. On this day in 1930, you were born in Wapakoneta, Ohio. And during a notable field trip on July 20, 1969, you said: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

mash-up

mash-up

COSMIC MASH UP: A new video simultaneously shows two galaxies colliding, seen through the eyes of NASA’s three surviving “great” space observatories: the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope. (Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, R.I.P., was the fourth.)

FRIDAY AUGUST 6: Spaceweather.com wraps up this week’s wild solar shenanigans this way:

THE SHOW IS OVER . . . FOR NOW: Geomagnetic activity has subsided to low levels and the aurora show of August 3rd and 4th has come to an end. At the height of the display, Northern Lights descended as far south as Wisconsin and Iowa in the United States.

DON’T MISS the latest mindblowing SDO image of the August 1 solar disturbance — in fact, here it is below! This space observatory is truly living up to its promise as the Hubble Space Telescope of solar astronomy.

SDO_aug1_608

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


Goddard’s gotchu! Milky J and the Jimmy Fallon posse come to town and talk NASA scientists into gnawing on ribs and rapping

August 3rd, 2010 4 comments

Here’s a guest post by Rob Garner, a writer and member of the crack Goddard web team. —gogblog


Goddard hosted a special guest last month, and you just may have seen him on television last night talking about it!

The name “Bashir Salahuddin” may not ring any bells with you (nope, it’s not the doctor from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), but fans of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will recognize him as “Milky J,” whose “Hubble Gotchu!” sketches have showcased the famous telescope’s magnificent images.

What’s that you say? You haven’t seen the clips? Then enjoy the sampling below!






After the videos aired Lynn Chandler gave the Jimmy Fallon crew a call. Lynn works here at Goddard as the public affairs officer for the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s successor to the Hubble.

When the full-size Webb model traveled to New York at the beginning of June, she suggested Bashir meet up there with NASA’s first civil servant Nobel Prize laureate Dr. John Mather to discuss Hubble and Webb, of which Dr. Mather happens to be the senior project scientist. The visit there went so well that Bashir (as Milky J) decided to take a trip to Goddard’s Greenbelt, Md., campus.

The video resulting from that trip in late July aired last night — but in case you missed it …



Brent Bos poses with Milky J's letters, now flavored with tangy rib sauce. (Image by Maggie Masetti)

Brent Bos poses with Milky J's letters, now flavored with tangy rib sauce. (Image by Maggie Masetti)

Let it not be said that NASA folks lack a sense of humor! Milky J’s Hubble fanaticism may be mostly just for laughs, but Bashir, who also writes for “Late Night,” has a genuine interest in space science. “Hubble Gotchu!” carries that science to new audiences, which is one reason why we loved helping put this video together.

And putting it together took a mountain of effort, both from the Goddard family and from the “Late Night” team. On our end, weeks of preparations and permissions went into making sure Bashir could film in all the “cool” spots. (Lynn and Mike McClare, Goddard’s Hubble and Webb video producer extraordinaire, deserve some serious high-fives for getting that all taken care of.)

Some of the “Late Night” crew, headed by director Michael Blieden, took the train down from New York on July 21 to scope Goddard for places to shoot. Andy Freeberg, a Goddard producer who helped guide the team, said they were just blown away by all the stuff going on here.

Milky J poses in his homemade spacesuit. (Image by Maggie Masetti)

Milky J poses in his homemade spacesuit. (Image by Maggie Masetti)

The morning of the 22nd came, and the rest of the crew arrived for a full day of shooting. The schedule was jam-packed, moving from the testing chambers to the NASA Communications center (Nascom), to the clean room, to the Goddard TV studio. Goddard never seems quite as big as it does when you’re lugging video equipment on a hot day!

The Jimmy Fallon crew was a pleasure to work with. Despite the fast-paced schedule Bashir, Michael and the rest of the team took the time to chat with the Goddard spectators who stopped by to see what was going on. Bashir is soft-spoken in comparison to his Milky J alter ego, and a true professional; he had all his dialogue memorized ahead of time.

Filming became a special treat for a school tour group that happened to meander by as the team shot in Nascom. They likely thought it strange that a telescope operator could be such a messy eater. Optical Physicist and “rib-eater” Brent Bos deserves special praise for that performance.

Brent had just completed media training the day before — and slathering on barbecue sauce before the big interview was definitely not one of the topics covered! Brent managed to keep the sauce confined to his face and fingers through multiple takes, a miraculous feat, as any rib fan knows. (The ribs appeared courtesy of Lynn Chandler’s kitchen.)

Milky J interviewed Paul Geithner, Webb’s observatory manager, at the end of the day. (Image by Andy Freeberg)

Milky J interviewed Paul Geithner, Webb’s observatory manager, at the end of the day. (Image by Andy Freeberg)

As Milky J would put it, “Whatever celestial images you need, Hubble gotchu!” When it comes to Hubble and James Webb, Goddard gotchu, too.

(Thanks to Webb blogger Maggie Masetti for filling in some of the details of the day!)

PS! If you want to learn more about superheated exoplanet HD 209458b, take a look at NASA’s Hubble website.

***ALSO make sure to check out Maggie Masetti’s blog post about the Hubble Gotchu Guy visit on NASA Blueshift. It has more great backstage photos.
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.