Imagine: with a wasteland as their canvas, a Master and his young Apprentice set about turning rubble into planets and moons, asteroids and comets. They levitate the worlds above their heads, spinning them in orbit around their symbolic Sun.
“What is the key to life on Earth?” asks the Master.
The Apprentice shakes her head. The answer is obvious: water.
“For a long time, the origins of water, and indeed life on our planet remained an absolute mystery. So we began searching for answers beyond Earth,” the Master continues.
“In time we turned to comets. One trillion celestial balls of dust, ice, complex molecules, left over from the birth of our Solar System. Once thought of as messengers of doom and destruction, and yet so enchanting.
“And we were to catch one: a staggeringly ambitious plan.”
Science fiction? No – science fact.
And if you are curious, the making of ‘Ambirtion’
1. North-to-south down the western coast of North and South America.
2. North-to-south over Florida, the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands.
3. South-East Asia, approaching the Philippine Sea
4. Western Europe, from France through Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Middle East.
5. Aurora Australis, over the Indian Ocean, approaching Australia
6. Aurora Australis, over the Indian Ocean.
7. Aurora Australis, unknown location in the Southern Hemisphere.
Explanation from NASA: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth’s thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the frame edges. The ominous wave of approaching brightness at the end of each sequence is just the dawn of the sunlit half of Earth, a dawn that occurs every 90 minutes.
In modern astronomy, a constellation is an internationally defined area of the celestial sphere. These areas are grouped around asterisms (which themselves are generally referred to in non-technical language as “constellations”), which are patterns formed by prominent stars within apparent proximity to one another on Earth’s night sky.
There are also numerous historical constellations not recognized by the IAU or constellations recognized in regional traditions of astronomy or astrology, such as Chinese, Hindu and Australian Aboriginal.
This video of the sun based on data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, shows the wide range of wavelengths — invisible to the naked eye — that the telescope can view. SDO converts the wavelengths into an image humans can see, and the light is colorized into a rainbow of colors.
As the colors sweep around the sun in the movie, viewers should note how different the same area of the sun appears. This happens because each wavelength of light represents solar material at specific temperatures. Different wavelengths convey information about different components of the sun’s surface and atmosphere, so scientists use them to paint a full picture of our constantly changing and varying star.
Yellow light of 5800 Angstroms, for example, generally emanates from material of about 10,000 degrees F (5700 degrees C), which represents the surface of the sun. Extreme ultraviolet light of 94 Angstroms, which is typically colorized in green in SDO images, comes from atoms that are about 11 million degrees F (6,300,000 degrees C) and is a good wavelength for looking at solar flares, which can reach such high temperatures. By examining pictures of the sun in a variety of wavelengths — as is done not only by SDO, but also by NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory — scientists can track how particles and heat move through the sun’s atmosphere.
The 2.9 minute movie was created by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio or SVS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and is available at the SVS website: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11385