Star Trek, rocket launch and a ghostly galaxy

Photograph of the International Space Station orbiting 263 miles above Brazil’s southeast coast on the Atlantic Ocean in an orbital sunriseCredit: NASA

Night turns to day

The International Space Station was orbiting 263 miles above Brazil’s southeast coast on the Atlantic Ocean in an orbital sunrise when this photograph was taken.

The orbital platform has been continuously occupied for over 20 years and hosts a variety of research and experiments that benefit all of humanity.

NASA's Star Trek crew in 1976

The Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong) hosted the Star Trek crew in 1976 for the deployment of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Front row, left to right: NASA Administrator James Fletcher and DeForest stars Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, show creator Gene Roddenberry and Walter Koenig. Credit: NASA

Star Trek and NASA: Celebrating the Connection

Gene Roddenberry would have turned 100 on August 19, 2021, and we at ">Nasa celebrate his legacy. As the creator of the legendary Star Trek saga, Roddenberry’s vision continues to resonate.

In the documentary “NASA on the Edge of Forever: Science in Space”, NASA astronaut Victor Glover said: “Science and Star Trek go hand in hand.” The film explores how, over the past 55 years, Star Trek has influenced scientists, engineers, and even astronauts to go beyond. While the International Space Station doesn’t speed through the galaxy like the Starship Enterprise, much of the research conducted aboard the orbiting facility brings Star Trek fiction one step closer to reality.

In this image, the Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong) hosted the Star Trek crew in 1976 for the deployment of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Front row, left to right: NASA Administrator James Fletcher and DeForest stars Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, show creator Gene Roddenberry and Walter Koenig.

NGC1052-DF2

This snapshot from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals an unusual “transparent” galaxy. The giant cosmic cotton ball is so diffuse and its ancient stars so spread out that distant galaxies in the background can be seen through it. Called an ultra-diffuse galaxy, this galactic eccentric is almost as large as the Milky Way, but it contains only 1 / 200th the number of stars as our galaxy. Credit: Science: NASA, ESA, STScI, Zili Shen (Yale), Pieter van Dokkum (Yale), Shany Danieli (IAS) Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

The lack of dark matter of a ghostly galaxy

Galaxies and dark matter go together like peanut butter and jelly. There is rarely one without the other, but a recently discovered galaxy called NGC 1052-DF2 is almost entirely lacking in dark matter.

In November 2019, researchers were amazed when they saw his image captured by the The Hubble Space Telescope. Dark matter is an invisible substance which, according to astronomers, plays an important role in the formation of galaxies and represents 85% of the mass of the universe. This discovery not only challenges ideas about the formation of galaxies, but also provides evidence that dark matter is real. It shows that dark matter is not always coupled with regular matter in galaxies and that it has its own separate existence. In addition to lacking dark matter, the galaxy NGC 1052-DF2 is an anomaly because we can see through it. It is called an ultra-diffuse galaxy because it has an extremely low density. Following these findings, a team of researchers is looking for more dark matter-deficient galaxies in order to better understand the nature of dark matter and the formation of galaxies.

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Launch of the KiNET-X rocket

NASA’s Black Brant XII rocket takes off with the KiNET-X experiment at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Credit: NASA Wallops / Terry Zaperach

Light up the night sky for science

In this image, a NASA Black Brant XII suborbital sounding rocket was launched at 8:44 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 16, 2021, from the Wallops Flight Facility.

The four-stage rocket carried the experiment of energy and momentum transport on the KiNETic, or KiNet-X scale, designed to study a very fundamental problem in space plasmas, namely how energy and amount of movement are transported between different regions of space which are magnetically connected.

These student-designed projects are a mix of technological and scientific experiments, including the development of a 360-degree camera for use on sounding rockets; concepts of space debris disposal; a solar panel deployment system for CubeSats; and collecting particles in space for research into the origins of life.

AFGL 5180

Credit: ESA / Hubble & NASA, JC Tan (Chalmers University & University of Virginia), R. Fedriani (Chalmers University)
Acknowledgments: Judy Schmidt

Star formation in the constellation Gemini, the twins

Nestled among the vast clouds of star-forming regions like this are potential clues to the formation of our own solar system.

This image from the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows AFGL 5180, a beautiful nursery of stars located in the constellation Gemini (the Twins).

In the center of the image, a massive star forms and carves cavities through the clouds with a pair of powerful jets, extending to the top right and bottom left of the image. The light of this star escapes and reaches us mainly by illuminating these cavities, like a beacon of a lighthouse piercing the storm clouds.

Stars are born in dusty environments and although this dust gives spectacular images, it can prevent astronomers from seeing embedded stars in them. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument is designed to capture detailed images in visible and infrared light, which means young stars hidden in large regions of star formation like AFGL 5180 can be seen much more clearly.

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Travis Durham

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