Back in May, astronauts visited the Hubble Space Telescope to install
new hardware and make repairs to the aging observatory. The upgrades
were a sucess. To prove it NASA today released spectacular first
images from the rejuvenated Great Observatory. Get the full
story from Science@NASA.
Space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station (ISS)
undocked on Sept. 8th, and now they're circling Earth side by side.
Hours after the split, Malcolm Park photographed the two spaceships
gliding through the stars above Port Perry, Ontario:
"They were so close together," says Park,
"their streaks overlapped. The two spaceships were very bright."
Discovery is slowly moving away from the ISS as it
positions itself for landing on Thursday. Until then, the double
flybys will continue. Check the Simple Satellite
Tracker for viewing times.
more images: from
Phillip Chee of Peterborough, Ontario; from
Mihir Devare of Oxford, Ohio; from
Gina Scaccia of Ashland, Oregon; from
Clair Perry of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada;
Martin Popek of Nýdek, Czech Republic; from
Val Germann of Columbia, Missouri; from
John Minnerath of Crowheart, Wyoming;
INNER SPACE TERRANAUTS:
This week, while astronauts orbited high
above Earth installing new science equipment in the laboratories
of the International Space Station, a team of terranauts
descended into the Earth on their own mission of discovery. "We
were not in outer space, but inner space," says explorer George
Kourounis, who sends this picture from the Cave
of Crystals in Naica, Mexico:
more images: #1,
Three hundred meters below Naica lies an alien world of giant crystals
and nearly unbearable heat. "With an air temperature of 122
F and a relative humidity of more than 90%, it feels like 228 F
in the cave," says Kourounis. "To survive in this extreme
environment, we enter the cave wearing special suits with cooling
packs inside and a backpack respirator which allows us to breath
chilled air. Even with all this equipment, I will still be able
to stay in the cave for no more than 45 minutes at a time."
Unprotected, even a scant 10 minutes could prove fatal--and that
is why this amazing cavern discovered by miners nine years ago remains
relatively unexplored. "Some of the crystals are 11 meters
long and weigh as much as 55 tons," marvels Kourounis. "We
had to be extremely cautious not to slip and fall. Doing so could
get you impaled."
"Wearing the suit," he adds, "you feel like an astronaut
who is about to go on a space walk." Make that an inner
space walk. Click
here for more pictures and anecdotes from the Cave of Crystals.
2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2008,
the Sunspot Cycle