Planetary Picture of the Day
Week of November 27, 2023
Astronaut photos from the ISS, moons of Saturn and Pluto, and the surface of Europa.
Monday, November 27, 2023
Saturn, Dione, Enceladus and Tethys
On June 25, 2023, NASA’s JWST turned to famed ringed world Saturn for its first near-infrared observations of the planet. The initial imagery from JWST's NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) is already fascinating researchers.
Saturn itself appears extremely dark at this infrared wavelength observed by the telescope, as methane gas absorbs almost all of the sunlight falling on the atmosphere. However, the icy rings stay relatively bright, leading to the unusual appearance of Saturn in the JWST image.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this nadir (downward-looking) photograph of Parinacota and Pomerape, twin volcanoes in the Andes Mountains. The volcanoes compose the Nevados de Payachata volcanic group and form part of the border between Chile and Bolivia. Illuminated by early evening sunlight, the snow- and glacier-capped peaks cast long, distinct shadows.
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Europa Wallpaper Wednesday
A possible place to look for life beyond Earth, the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa was imaged by NASA's Galileo spacecraft on December 16, 1997. This version is made from monochrome raw image data with color synthesized to approximate natural colors.
Thursday, November 30, 2023
Pluto's approximately 50-km wide moon Nix was imaged by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. The red area is likely a region of tholin deposition and/or formation. Tholins are abiotic complex organic solids possibly produced when ultraviolet light from the faraway Sun breaks down molecules of methane that escape Pluto.
Friday, December 1, 2023
The Beginnings of a Sunrise
The sun's first rays begin illuminating Earth's atmosphere in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 260 miles above the central United States. At far left, the city lights of Chicago, Illinois, are outlined by Lake Michigan. At far right, the city lights of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area shine through the clouds.