J. P. Major

J. P. Major
Dallas, Texas, USA
December 26
Editor / Author
Astronomy news and photos from around our solar system! More on Twitter @JPMajor


AUGUST 13, 2012 12:19AM

An MSL Panorama from Gale Crater

Panorama of 5 images from Curiosity’s left Mastcam (NASA/JPL-Caltech/J. Major)

Here’s a panoramic view of the mountainous rim of Gale Crater, as seen by Curiosity’s left Mastcam on 8/9/2012. The image is assembled from 5 raw subsampled images.

Gale Crater is about 96 miles (1… Read full post »

AUGUST 9, 2012 12:33AM

Flying Saucers Over Mars!

Curiosity’s heat shield falls away to the Martian surface

It might not be a UFO per se but it’s definitely a flying disk from another planet — except in this case the other planet is Earth! This image, a high-resolution version of one sent back by Curiosity’s Mars Desce… Read full post »

AUGUST 8, 2012 10:43AM

Heads Up, Curiosity!

Latest full-size image from Curiosity’s left navcam

This just in: the latest full-size image from Curiosity shows the rover’s shadow with its “head” extended…. hello, Curiosity! :)

The image above was taken with the rover’s left navcam, and also shows its bra… Read full post »

JULY 28, 2012 7:14PM

Dione in Color

Although made mostly of ice and rock, Saturn’s moon Dione (pronounced DEE-oh-nee) does have some color to it — although mostly chilly hues of steel blue, as seen in this color-composite made from raw images acquired by Cassini on July 23.

700 miles (1120 km) wide, Dione is covere… Read full post »

JULY 28, 2012 7:00PM

Titan's High-Level Haze

Lights In The Dark posted a photo:

Titan's High-Level Haze

Cassini's view through the upper-level haze of Titan, composited from images acquired in green, blue and ultraviolet and then readjusted to approximate the "true" blue coloration of the clouds. (NASA/JPL/SSI. Composite by Jason Major.)

JULY 28, 2012 7:00PM

Titan's South Pole

Lights In The Dark posted a photo:

Titan's South Pole

Cassini image of Titan acquired on July 25, 2012. Titan's south polar vortex is visible, a structure that's been forming as wintertime approaches on the moon's southern hemisphere. (NASA/JPL/SSI. Color composite by Jason Major.)

JULY 28, 2012 7:00PM

Dione in Color

Lights In The Dark posted a photo:

Dione in Color

Saturn's moon Dione as seen by Cassini on July 23, 2012. Three raw images acquired in red, green and blue channels were combined to create this true-color image, which has had its color saturation boosted to highlight variations. (NASA/JPL/SSI. Composite… Read full post »

One NASA illustrator’s 1975 vision of what Martian life may have looked like

A great find from the NASA archives! This composite of three artists’ renderings from 1975 may have only been wish fulfillment for an unnamed JPL artist; however, the landscape and the rendered shapes took/… Read full post »

Sally Ride and the crew of STS-7 in 1983 (NASA)

Sad news in space: Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died today, July 23 2012. She had just turned 61 in May.

“Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism – and literally changed the face

Read full post »

Sojourner investigates a rock named “Yogi Bear” in 1997 (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Mars Pathfinder mission, launched on Dec. 4, 1996, was designed to demonstrate a low-cost method for delivering a set of science instruments to Mars and sent the first wheeled vehicle to be used on anoth… Read full post »

JULY 20, 2012 2:26PM


Panorama of the Eagle lunar module by Ed Hengeveld from JSC scans.

“That’s one small step for man… one giant leap for mankind.”

I’m not sure what else need be said about the significance of what happened on this day in 1969, 43 years ago… it was a sh… Read full post »

The aurora australis glows beneath the ISS in this photo taken on July 15, 2012

Sparked by a coronal mass ejection emitted from a sunspot on July 12, Earth’s aurora leapt into action both at the north and south poles three days later. Here we can see a view of the… Read full post »

The May 20 annular eclipse, seen by many around the world as a “ring of fire” in the sky, was also seen by the astronauts aboard the ISS — although they also got a great view of the shadow that the Moon cast on the Earth as well! This HD/… Read full post »

Apollo 11 seen from the launch tower (NASA)

On this day, July 16, in 1969, a Saturn V rocket — still the most powerful rocket ever built — launched Apollo 11 on its historic journey to take astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon — the… Read full post »

Compiled SDO/AIA image of the July 12 X-class flare

As you read this, a huge cloud of charged solar particles is speeding toward our planet, a coronal mass ejection resulting from an X1.4-class flare that erupted from sunspot 1520 on July 12. The CME is expected to collide with Earth’s magne… Read full post »

Vesta — the asteroid that was almost a planet — has its complex surface composition revealed in this animation made from images acquired by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft.

The video reveals the dappled, variegated surface of the giant asteroid Vesta, the second most massive object i… Read full post »

JULY 11, 2012 12:06PM

Pluto Gets Another Moon!

Hubble image of the newly-expanded Pluto family (NASA, ESA and M. Showalter/SETI)

It’s a dwarf planet with a giant family! Astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope have announced a new moon around distant Pluto, bringing the known count up to 5. The image above, just release/… Read full post »

True-color composite image of Titan’s south polar vortex (NASA/JPL/SSI)

Thanks to Cassini’s new vantage point granted by its inclined orbit researchers have gotten a new look at the south pole of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. What they’ve recently discovered is a swirling vortex of… Read full post »

Panorama of a sunset-lit Giordano Bruno crater, imaged by LRO (NASA/GSFC/ Arizona State University)

The 13-mile (21-km) wide Giordano Bruno crater on the Moon’s far side was recently imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at an angle at a time when the setting sun cast long… Read full post »

JULY 6, 2012 1:00PM

Hit The Slopes!

Tracks of boulders down the northwest slope of Giordano Bruno crater

Things on the Moon don’t always stay put, as the tracks left by these large boulders show!

Part of a LROC mosaic of the 13-mile-wide Giordano Bruno crater, this zoom-in on the crater’s northwest slope shows the t… Read full post »

JULY 3, 2012 12:42PM

The Colors of Titan and Saturn

Titan seen in front of Saturn’s limb (NASA/JPL/SSI/J. Major)

The pumpkin-orange colors of Titan’s thick clouds appear in stark contrast in front of the limb of Saturn, which appears quite blue along its sunlit limb due to Rayleigh scattering, the same process that makes the sky loo/… Read full post »

JULY 2, 2012 10:32PM

Odysseus Crater

Lights In The Dark posted a photo:

Odysseus Crater

Detail of the 450-km (280-mile) -wide Odysseus crater on Tethys. Acquired by Cassini on June 28, 2012.

Some level adjustment, sharpening and deinterlacing was used on the original raw image.


JULY 2, 2012 10:19PM

Odysseus Crater on Tethys

Lights In The Dark posted a photo:

Odysseus Crater on Tethys

Raw image (edited) of the 450-km-wide (280-mile-wide) Odysseus crater on Saturn's moon Tethys, acquired by Cassini on June 28, 2012.

See a detail of the crater here: www.flickr.com/photos/lightsinthedark/7491568936/in/photo...


JULY 1, 2012 11:38AM

Expedition 31 Sails Back to Earth

Soyuz capsule returning to Earth on July 1, 2012 (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A Soyuz TMA-03M capsule descended to the steppes of Kazakhstan this morning at 4:14 a.m., returning Expedition 31 crew members Oleg Kononenko, Don Pettit and André Kuipers to Earth after 193 days working aboard the Space St… Read full post »