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Photo Feature

Llullaillaco Volcano

April 2nd, 2010

The summit of South America’s Llullaillaco Volcano has an elevation of 22,110 feet above sea level, making it the highest historically active volcano in the world. The current stratovolcano–a cone-shaped volcano built from successive layers of thick lava flows and eruption products like ash and rock fragments–is built on top of an older stratovolcano. The last explosive eruption of the volcano, based on historical records, occurred in 1877. This photograph of Llullaillaco, taken from aboard the International Space Station, illustrates an interesting volcanic feature known as a coulée. Coulées are formed from highly viscous, thick lavas that flow onto a steep surface. As they flow slowly downwards, the top of the flow cools and forms a series of parallel ridges oriented at 90 degrees to the direction of flow (somewhat similar in appearance to the pleats of an accordion). The sides of the flow can also cool faster than the center, leading to the formation of wall-like structures known as flow levees. Llullaillaco is also a well-known archaeological site; the mummified remains of three Inca children, ritually sacrificed 500 years ago, were discovered on the summit in 1999. Image Credit: NASA

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Photo Feature

TIROS

April 1st, 2010

On April 1, 1960, a satellite designed by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) launched to become the nation’s first weather satellite. That satellite, the Television InfraRed Observational Satellite, or TIROS 1, operated for only 78 days but demonstrated the feasibility of monitoring Earth’s cloud cover and weather patterns from space. This NASA program provided the first accurate weather forecasts based on data gathered from space. In this image, TIROS undergoes vibration testing at the Astro-Electronic Products Division of RCA in Princeton, New Jersey. Image Credit: NASA

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Expedition 23 Soyuz Rollout

March 31st, 2010

The Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft arrived by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March, 31, 2010. The launch of the Soyuz spacecraft with Expedition 23 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov, Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko and NASA Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson is scheduled for Friday, April 2, 2010 at 12:04 a.m. Eastern. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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A Subtle Difference

March 31st, 2010

Subtle color differences on Saturn’s moon Mimas are apparent in this false-color view of Herschel Crater captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its closest-ever flyby of that moon. The image shows terrain-dependent color variations, particularly the contrast between the bluish materials in and around Herschel Crater and the greenish cast on older, more heavily cratered terrain elsewhere. The origin of the color differences is not yet understood, but may be caused by differences in the surface composition between the two terrains. False color images from Cassini’s previous closest encounter, in 2005, also showed such variations. The natural color of Mimas visible to the human eye may be a uniform gray or yellow color, but this mosaic has been contrast-enhanced and shows differences at other wavelengths of light. During this flyby on Feb. 13, 2010, Cassini came within about 5,900 miles of Mimas and these images were obtained with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera on that day at a distance of approximately 10,000 miles from Mimas. The images were re-projected into an orthographic map projection. A black and white image, taken in visible light with the wide-angle camera, is used to fill in parts of the mosaic. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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Events

Titan Through Time

March 30th, 2010

Titan Through Time will be a 2 1/2 day (Tuesday-Thursday) workshop hosted at NASA/GSFC in Maryland, aimed at bringing together the planetary research community to share recent topical results and to debate about Titan’s formation, evolution and fate. This workshop is open to everyone who has an interest in Titan, including those studying it experimentally […]

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Events

Colloquium Series Lecture: Starship Life Support

March 30th, 2010

Dr. Jones will report on the design and cost of a starship, with emphasis on life support systems. He will describe a multigenerational interstellar voyage to colonize a new planet. Nuclear propulsion is required. The mission is more feasible if a small crew travels slowly and lands with minimal equipment. Growing food is about as […]

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