Cool (and Free!) Images from NASA

In a test from the 1970s, a model undergoes a wind tunnel simulation of ionized gasses that will surround the real Space Shuttle as it reenters the atmosphere. Photo courtesy of NASA on flickr.

I love NASA’s image album on flickr. It’s big, beautiful, and free! Even better, NASA includes tons of details with each image. I just spent a few hours flipping through their photos (again) and thought I’d post a few favorites. Enjoy. And thanks, NASA!

Using the schlieren photography technique, NASA captured the first air-to-air image of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft flying in formation. These two U.S. Air Force T-38s are zipping through the atmosphere only 30 feet apart.
Astronaut Don Pettit, 240 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station, produced this composite image of the stars from 18 seperate photos, each with a 30-second exposure.
This image from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory shows a supernova 190,000 light years from Earth. Factoring in that the star exploded about 10,000 years before Chandra captured this image, what we see here happened 200,000 years ago. That’s around the time modern humans were emerging from western Africa.
A NOAA weather satellite snapped this photo of Hurricane Andrew slamming into the coast of Louisiana on August 25, 1992. I didn’t know this, but the United States has the world’s most violent weather, with 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and 12 named tropical storms or hurricanes pummelling us in a typical year.
The first photo of Earth and the Moon in the same frame, taken in 1977 by Voyager 1 from seven million miles away.
An eclipse of the Sun by Saturn, as seen by Cassini in September 2006. The enhanced light in this photo helped NASA discover new rings. That dot at about 10 o’clock, just outside the main rings, is Earth.

A montage of all the planets except Pluto, taken by NASA spacecraft including Mariner 10, Magellan, Galileo, Viking, and Voyager. You do remember all the planets, don’t you? That’s the Moon to the right of Earth, if you’re wondering. NASA’s never gone to Pluto, so it’s not included.

From NASA’s detailed caption: “The International Space Station, with a crew of six onboard, is seen in silhouette as it transits the Sun at roughly five miles per second during a partial solar eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington.”

Here we see the shuttle Atlantis set against the Sun in May 2009 on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Astrophotographer Thierry Legault snapped this image from Florida.

Lightning above the urban lights of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in December 2013. Across the entire globe, lightning flashes about 50 times per second, 4.3 million times a day, and 1.5 billion times a year. Public domain photo from NASA.

An NOAA satellite image of the world’s vegetation.
An alligator crawls for cover at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in October 1969. The Vehicle Assembly Building, where NASA prepares Apollo 12 for a mid-November blastoff, stands in the background. Photo courtesy of NASA.
This one’s not from the flickr album, but it’s NASA nonetheless. The space shuttle Endeavour clears the clouds on its way to the ISS on May 16, 2011. NASA retired Endeavour after this flight.

Nearing the end of a successful mission, this Soyuz capsule drifts toward the lower cloud cover over Kazakhstan with two Americans and a Russian aboard in February 2018.

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