Saturday, June 30, 2007

Something Wonderful

Here’s a photograph that I first came across in the book Endeavour - views from Earth, which was subtitled Astronauts’ photographs from Space Shuttle Mission STS-47. It’s entitled Sunrise 15 S 159 E.

Endeavour launched on September 12th, 1992 at 10:23 EDT. It circled the Earth for almost eight days at an altitude of 166 nautical miles, travelling a total of 3,271,844 miles. The 50th mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-47’s mission featured the Spacelab-J research module – a joint experiment between NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan – which was used to conduct microgravity investigations in materials and life sciences.

Commanded by Robert L. Gibson and piloted by Curtis L. Brown, Jr, Endeavour’s crew included Mission Specialist Mae Carol Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space, Payload Specialist Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese astronaut to fly onboard a shuttle, along with Payload Commander Mark C. Lee Mission Specialist Nancy Jan Davis, the first married couple to fly together in space.

This next one was taken by Hubble. It’s a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula. This nebula contains a dozen stars that are estimated to be 50 to 100 times the mass of the Sun.

The most unique is the star Eta Carinae, which is at the far left and shown in the final stages of its lifespan. The two billowing lobes of gas and dust presage its upcoming explosion as a titanic supernova. These fireworks in the Carina region are estimated to have started three million years ago. Along with the death of Eta Carinae, the stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation inside this huge could of cold molecular hydrogen are also triggering the second stage of new star formation.

It’s a miserable day today. The sky is grey and overcast and rain is falling in fits and starts. Without doubt a storm is coming this evening. But for the time being, stop to take a moment at the natural beauty of the universe and enjoy.


At 3:45 pm, Blogger potdoll said...


At 4:57 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...


At 7:16 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

I love the idea of a 4-inch snap of a 50-light-year-wide section of anything.

We should be reminded more often of our place in the grand scheme of things.

At 2:30 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

That is a great way of seeing it.


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