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You know the feeling …. seeing Jupiter through your own telescope. If it gives you the chills — like it does for me — then you’ll know how the team for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter felt when they turned their spacecraft around – yes, the orbiter that’s been faithfully circling and looking down at the Moon since 2008 – and saw the giant planet Jupiter with their camera. If you zoom in on the picture, you can even see Jupiter’s Galilean moons.

Usually, LRO takes stunning, high-resolution images of the lunar surface. But recently, the LRO team used some high-powered calculations and precise timing to use its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) to scan the area of the sky where Jupiter was going to be, about 600 million km away. They hit the jackpot. While it’s not Hubble Space Telescope quality, the fact this image was taken from a spacecraft orbiting 100 km above the lunar surface is a true feat in engineering.

“We took a pic of Jupiter from the Moon last month,” said LRO team member Brett Denevi on Twitter. “It may not be the highest resolution ever, but its ours.”

We took a pic of Jupiter from the Moon last month. It may not be the highest resolution ever, but it’s ours

From the Moon to Jupiter, with Lovehttps://t.co/nLaRNrsqMa pic.twitter.com/jacwYKcck2

— Brett Denevi (@bwdenev) September 28, 2021

Denevi explained on the LRO website that the exercise to take a picture of Jupiter was a labor of love. The team does these complicated maneuvers because they love exploring the planets and taking pictures.

“It is fun to take a look around our Solar System every once in a while from our perch in lunar orbit,” Denevi said.

Complicating matters is that because the spacecraft is over 12 years old, a few things don’t work like they used to. The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) — which keeps tabs on where LRO is pointed — is nearing the end of its operational life. The IMU is now only used in emergencies or special situations. LRO’s team now has to use the spacecraft’s star tracker cameras to derive an estimate of its location and rotation.

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LRO’s view of Jupiter, with an alternate crop and a higher contrast stretch so that Ganymede and Callisto are visible. Io and Europa can be seen appearing to protrude from the side of Jupiter; in reality, they are both just off Jupiter’s limb but they have all merged together here due to the stretch applied to the scene. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

This “adds complications to imaging anywhere but straight down at the lunar surface,” Denevi wrote, “(we don’t want the star trackers pointed at the Moon rather than the stars!). The spacecraft is also gracefully aging so the solar panels must be turned away from the Sun for as little time as possible. And then adding in other thermal and timing constraints, the operations team had to work hard to find just the right time to turn the spacecraft toward the outer Solar System and scan across Jupiter to get this image.”

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time LROC has taken a picture of Jupiter — they did another shot in 2020. And every once in a while, LRO turns its view outward to take a peek at other places in the Solar System, like Mars and even Earth.

“But just like so many people around the world who like turning their telescopes toward the sky and seeing the stars and planets firsthand, the LROC team could not resist doing the same,” Denevi said.

The post NASA Spacecraft Takes a Picture of Jupiter … From the Moon appeared first on Universe Today.

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A Planetary Disk in the Orion Nebula is Destroying and Replenishing Oceans of Water Every Month

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Planet-forming disks are places of chaotic activity. Not only do planetesimals slam together to form larger worlds, but it now appears that the process involves the destructive recycling of water within a disk. That’s the conclusion from scientists studying JWST data from a planetary birth crèche called d203-506 in the Orion Nebula.

The data they studied suggest that an amount of water equivalent to all of Earth’s oceans is created and replenished in a relatively short period—about a month. According to study co-lead Els Peeters at Western University in Canada, it was relatively easy to discover this process in the protoplanetary disk. “This discovery was based on a tiny fraction of our spectroscopic data,” she said. “It is exciting that we have so much more data to mine and I can’t wait to see what else we can find.”

The Orion Nebula is a vast active star- and planet-forming region and the d203-506 protoplanetary disk lies within it at a distance of about 1,350 light-years away from Earth. Astronomers study the nebula to understand all aspects of star birth since there are so many newborn stars there. In addition, many are surrounded by disks of gas and dust, called protoplanetary disks (proplyds, for short). Those regions are excellent places to observe planet-formation processes, and particularly the interplay between the young stars and their disks.

The Orion Nebula, one of the most studied objects in the sky. It's likely that many of its protostars and their planetary disks contain water in some form. Image: NASA
The Orion Nebula is one of the most studied objects in the sky. Many of its protostars and their planetary disks likely contain water in some form. Image: NASA

The Water Cycle of a Proplyd

We all know that water is an important ingredient for life. It certainly played a role in creating and sustaining life on our planet. As it turns out, water is a significant fraction of the materials in a proplyd. In the infant Solar System, water existed throughout our proplyd long before any of the planets formed, largely in their icy form, either as icy bodies or locked into asteroids and planetesimals. It also exists in interstellar space.

This view of Earth’s horizon was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station, using a wide-angle lens while the Station was over the Pacific Ocean. A new study suggests that Earth's water didn't all come from comets, but likely also came from water-rich planetesimals.  Credit: NASA
This view of Earth’s horizon by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station. A new study suggests that Earth’s water didn’t all come from comets, but likely also came from water-rich planetesimals. Credit: NASA

Most of Earth’s water got delivered to the forming planet over millions of years. It melted or outgassed to form the oceans, rivers, and lakes we see today. But, some fraction of the water in our system’s birth disk probably went through a “freeze-thaw” cycle within the disk. That happened when the Solar System was still just a disk of gas and dust. The water was essentially destroyed and then re-formed at higher temperatures.

We can’t see that effect anymore in our system. But, astronomers can point telescopes at other proplyds to see if the same process happens there. That’s what Peeters and her team did. They used JWST to look at d203-506. There, bright young stars flood the nearby regions in the proplyd with intense ultraviolet radiation. The UV breaks up water molecules to form hydroxyl molecules and that process also releases infrared light. JWST can search out that light and report back on how much hydroxyl
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The 12 Best Hikes in Utah’s National Parks

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By Michael Lanza

From natural arches, hoodoos, and hanging gardens to balanced rocks and towering mesas, slot canyons and vast chasms, the desert Southwest holds in its dry, searing, lonely open spaces some of America’s most fascinating and inspiring geology. The writer “Cactus Ed” Abbey no doubt had this region in mind when he said there “are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.” Much of it sits protected within southern Utah’s five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef.

The good news? Many of the best sights can be reached on dayhikes of anywhere from a couple hours to a full day.

A hiker below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Cyndi Hayes hiking below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?fit=300%2C199&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?fit=900%2C598&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=900%2C598&ssl=1″ alt=”A hiker below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.” class=”wp-image-43917″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=1024%2C680&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=300%2C199&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=768%2C510&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Cyndi Hayes hiking below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.
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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

The list below of the best dayhikes in southern Utah’s national parks derives from numerous trips I’ve made to each of these parks over the past three decades, including the 10 years I spent as a field editor for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog. Use my list as your compass, and I guarantee you will knock off the best hikes in these parks.

I’d love to read your thoughts about my list—and your suggestions for dayhikes that belong on it. Please share them in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments, and as I continue to explore more trails, I will regularly update this story.

A teenage boy hiking Angels Landing, Zion National Park.
” data-image-caption=”My son, Nate, hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Zion5-015-Angels-Landing-Zion-National-Park.-copy.-copy.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Zion5-015-Angels-Landing-Zion-National-Park.-copy.-copy.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Zion5-015-Angels-Landing-Zion-National-Park.-copy.-copy.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A teenage boy hiking Angels Landing, Zion National Park.” class=”wp-image-35512″ srcset=”https://i0.wp
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The View From Mount St. Helens, One of America’s Best Hikes

Tet19 047 Me on Teton Crest Trail copy cropped 34 jpg

By Michael Lanza

Four decades after it last erupted, Washington’s Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, emerge soon from the shady, cool, temperate rainforest onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains, including several other snow-covered volcanoes. The views could steal the breath from God.

Tet19 047 Me on Teton Crest Trail copy cropped 35 jpg
Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

From atop crumbling cliffs at the crater rim, hikers look out over the vast hole—2,000 feet deep and nearly two miles across—created by the 1980 eruption that decapitated St. Helens. Ice-capped volcanoes dominate three horizons: Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. Scroll down to the photo gallery below from my family’s three-generation hike up St. Helens, and you’ll see why I consider it one of “The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips.”

A permit is required for every climber above 4,800 feet on Mount St. Helens. It costs $15/person for the permit plus $6 for every permit transaction. For the quota season of April 1 through Oct 31, there are daily limits on the total number of climbers permitted on the mountain.

For each month during the quota season, permits go on sale at recreation.gov at 7 a.m. Pacific Time on the first day of the preceding month; for example, permits for hiking the mountain in July go on sale on June 1. Permits sell out very quickly. See fs.usda.gov/detail/giffordpinchot/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fseprd528670 for information.

Read my story “Three Generations, One Big Volcano: Pushing Limits on Mount St. Helens,” about my family’s three-generation hike of Mount St. Helens, with more photos, a video, and tips on how to pull it off yourself.

I can help you plan the best backpacking, hiking, or family adventure of your life.
Click here now to learn more.

Mount Hood from Monitor Ridge.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=300%2C165&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=640%2C351&ssl=1″ data-attachment-id=”17219″ data-permalink=”https://thebigoutside.com/hel6-008-mt-hood-from-monitor-ridge-mt-st-helens-wa-2/” data-orig-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=640%2C351&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”640,351″ data-comments-opened=”1″ data-image-meta=”{“aperture”:”5.6″,”credit”:”Michael Lanza”,”camera”:”NIKON D90″,”caption”:””,”created_timestamp”:”1374488122″,”copyright”:”\u00a9 Michael Lanza\/The Big Outside”,”focal_length”:”200″,”iso”:”200″,”shutter_speed”:”0.0005″,”title”:””,”orientation”:”0″}” data-image-title=”” data-image-description=”” data-image-caption=”Mount Hood from Monitor Ridge.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=300%2C165&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=640%2C351&ssl=1″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?strip=info&w=600&ssl=1 600w,https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg
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