The jellyfish-like light show in the animations above shows the life and death of a flame in microgravity. The work is part of the Flame Extinguishment Experiment 2 (FLEX-2) currently flying aboard the International Space Station. When ignited, the fuel droplet creates a blue spherical shell of flame about 15 mm in diameter. The spherical shape is typical of flames in microgravity; on Earth, flames are shaped like teardrops due to the effects of buoyancy, which exists only in a gravitational field. The bright yellow spots and streaks that appear after ignition are soot, which consists mainly of hot-burning carbon. The uneven distribution of soot is what causes the pulsating bursts seen in the middle animation. When soot products drift back onto the fuel droplet, it causes uneven burning and flame pulses. The final burst of flame in the last animation is the soot igniting and extinguishing the flame. Fires are a major hazard in microgravity, where oxygen supplies are limited and evacuating is not always an option. Scientists hope that experiments like FLEX-2 will shed light on how fires spread and can be fought aboard spacecraft. For more, check out NASA’s ScienceCast on microgravity flames. (Image credits: NASA, source video; submitted by jshoer)
Sept. 12, 1992: Dr. Mae Jemison Becomes First African American Woman in Space
On this day in 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel through space. She served as Mission Specialist aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47.
WTCI’s Alison Lebovitz discusses the legacy of the first woman of color to travel beyond the stratosphere on “The A List with Alison Lebovitz.” Watch the interview here.
Jemison appeared on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me in 2013 and told host Peter Sagal how she geeked out about Star Trek as a young woman, relished dancing in the Space Shuttle Endeavour, abhorred using diapers in space, and much more.
She also described what it felt like to finally achieve her dream of visiting space:
And I remember one time actually we flew through the Southern Lights… They’re these shimmering curtain of lights. So there’s nothing that you could have ever seen in a science fiction movie that would even come close to seeing that in person.
Two powerful solar storms arriving at Earth today have captured the public’s attention for their potential to spark amazing auroras, but scientists say there’s another reason to watch. The solar double whammy is actually somewhat rare.
The particles from the two flares could interact as they head toward Earth, and researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center said they are monitoring the situation.
The sun unleashed a medium-sized flare on Monday (Sept. 8) followed by a second, larger flare, called an Earth-directed X-class flare, on Wednesday (Sept. 10). Both are from the same active sunspot region (Active Region 2158) and are directed at Earth, said Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center, during a news conference yesterday (Sept. 11).
Solar flares are powerful eruptions of radiation. Large flares can produce coronal mass ejections (CMEs), waves of solar plasma and charged particles that can travel millions of miles an hour through space. Last night, as expected, the first of the CMEs made its appearance and is expected to cause geomagnetic storming, reaching moderate levels, this morning, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center.
Collection: NASA Planetary Photo Journal Collection
Title: Earth and Moon as viewed by Mariner 10
Original Caption Released with Image: Mariner 10 was launched on November 3, 1973, 12:45 am PST, from Cape Canaveral on an Atlas/Centaur rocket (a reconditioned Intercontinental Ballistic Missile - ICBM). Within 12 hours of launch the twin cameras were turned on and several hundred pictures of both the Earth and the Moon were acquired over the following days. The Earth and Moon were imaged by Mariner 10 from 2.6 million km while completing the first ever Earth-Moon encounter by a spacecraft capable of returning high resolution digital color image data. These images have been combined at right to illustrate the relative sizes of the two bodies. From this particular viewpoint the Earth appears to be a water planet! The Mariner 10 mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA’s Office of Space Science, explored Venus in February 1974 on the way to three encounters with Mercury-in March and September 1974 and in March 1975. The spacecraft took more than 7,000 photos of Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Northwester n University
Other Information: Mariner 10 Image Project
Addition Date: 1999-12-21
Produced By: Northwestern University
Mission: Mariner Venus Mercury (MVM)
Image #: PIA02441