Space can be a wondrous place, and we’ve got the pictures to prove it! Take a look at our favorite pictures from space here, and if you’re wondering what happened today in space history don’t miss our On This Day in Space video show here!
BepiColombo swings by Venus
Oct. 16, 2020: Yesterday (Oct. 15), the European-Japanese probe BepiColombo swung by Venus, one of its nine gravity assist maneuvers, on its long winding journey to Mercury. At Venus, the craft snapped a number of photos with the cameras aboard its Mercury Transfer Module. The probe is set to eventually arrive in Mercury’s orbit in 2025.
Thomas Pesquet trains for space
Oct. 15, 2020: European space agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet trains at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in preparation for his 2021 mission to the International Space Station. Here he is training for the Time experiment, which was first run in 2017 and which explores the hypothesis that time speeds up in microgravity.
Astronauts blast off to space
Oct. 14, 2020: This morning at 1:45 am EDT (0545 GMT), NASA astronaut Kate Rubins launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan along with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. After a speedy arrival at the space station, the trio will begin a six-month stay living and working on the orbiting lab.
The Laguna San Rafael National Park from space
Oct. 13, 2020: The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission spotted the Laguna San Rafael National Park in Chile from space. This orbiting satellite has five instruments onboard that allow it to not only observe Earth below, but also monitor atmospheric conditions like temperature and humidity.
Lost in space: A Mars probe camera
Oct. 12, 2020: A tiny camera tumbles out into deep space after being ejected by China’s Tianwen-1 Mars probe 15 million miles from Earth. The image, released Oct. 1, was captured as Tianwen-1 heads to Mars. The camera was able to snap photos of Tianwen-1, which carries a Mars orbiter, lander and rover that are due to arrive at the Red Planet in February 2021.
Sunset captured from space
Oct. 9, 2020: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who is currently stationed aboard the International Space Station, posted a photo to Twitter that shows what sunset looks like from space. His photo shows the sunset a video camera is capturing as the station’s robotic arm maneuvers around the Cygnus spacecraft.
James Webb has passed another test
Oct. 8, 2020: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has completed a set of milestone tests, enduring shaking and rattling created to simulate the conditions it will experience when it launches to space. The tests are more formally known as “acoustic” and “sine-vibration” testing, and were completed in two separate facilities at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park in California.
Oct. 7, 2020: The Expedition 64 prime and backup crew members pose together on Oct. 6 before the prime crew launches to the International Space Station on Oct. 14. From left to right are the prime crew NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos and Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos and then the backup crew members Petr Dubov of Roscosmos, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.
SpaceX’s 13th Starlink batch
Oct. 6, 2020: This morning (Oct. 6), SpaceX launched its 13th batch of Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit. The 60 satellites launched atop the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This takeoff followed a two-week launch delay that was caused by bad weather. Read the full story!
A spiral in Lupus
Oct. 2, 2020: The spiral galaxy NGC 5643, which rests in the constellation of Lupus (the Wolf) stands out in this image by the Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy lies about 60 million light-years from Earth and recently was home to the supernova 2017cbv.
SpaceX attempts to launch
Oct. 1, 2020: Twin SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets can be seen in this single shot, taken at Kennedy Space Center before the company’s latest Starlink launch attempt Oct. 1, 2020, which was scrubbed. SpaceX continues to launch batches of its Starlink satellites, working to build a constellation of satellites to provide internet service here on Earth.
ExoMars moves to France
Sept. 30, 2020: Last Sunday (Sept. 20), the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission was moved from the Thales Alenia Space facilities to Cannes, France. The mission includes the Rosalind Franklin rover, which has a specialized drill to gather samples from beneath the Martian surface.
Expedition 64 prepares for flight
Sept. 29, 2020: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov are the three astronauts set to launch Oct. 14 to the International Space Station as part of Expedition 64. Here the astronauts can be seen during a fit check inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Dark matter in the Great Bear
Sept. 28, 2020: On the tail of the Great Bear in the Ursa Major constellation, the spiral galaxy NGC 5585 can be seen here, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy is made up of stars, dust and gas clouds and an abundance of dark matter.
Tarawa Atoll from space
Sept. 25, 2020: The Tarawa Atoll, a remote Pacific nation in the Republic of Kiribati, can be seen from space in this image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. Kiribati is an independent island nation spreading out 1351357 square miles (3.5 million square kilometers) of the ocean with a total land area of just 309 sq miles (800 sq km).
Sept. 24, 2020: This is the first Orion spacecraft that will fly to the moon, sitting in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This craft will fly as part of NASA’a Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the lunar surface in 2024.
Flowering stellar wind
Sept. 23, 2020: Stellar winds from the star R Aquilae form a number of shapes, coming together to resemble flower petals. This image was captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array in Chile as part of the ATOMIUM project.
Sept. 22, 2020: This global infrared mosaic of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, was made using data from the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. This image shows five different infrared views of Enceladus, the moon’s Saturn-facing side, its trailing side and its North and South pole.
Sept. 20, 2020: The Unit Telescope 4 of the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile fires its “laser guide stars” at the night sky as part of the telescope’s adaptive optics system.
Unit 4 is one of four separate 8.2-meter telescopes that make up the Very Large Telescope, which in turn is part of the European Southern Observatory high up in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The telescope’s adaptive optics system users powerful lasers as guide stars to help its adaptive optics system correct for the distortion of the Earth’s atmosphere in astronomical observations.
Jupiter’s striking storms
Sept. 18, 2020: This new, stunning image of Jupiter, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, was captured on Aug. 25, 2020 and shows the planet’s turbulent, swirling storms. In the photo, you can see the ripples in the planet’s atmosphere, Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot and the planet’s striking colors.
Reflecting radio beams
Sept. 17, 2020: This metal-mesh antenna reflector was created as part of the European Space Agency’s AMPER (Advanced techniques for mesh reflector with improved radiation pattern performance) project. Researchers are developing this mesh reflector technology to advance the performance and capabilities of large antennas.
The Amazon river from space
Sept. 16, 2020: The Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite captured this image of the Amazon River snaking its way through the Amazon rainforest in South America from space. The colors in this image come from two polarizations from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission which have been merged into one image.
West coast wildfires
Sept. 15, 2020: The massive amount of smoke billowing out from California in the U.S. can be seen from space, as you can see in this image taken Sept. 10 by the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite. There are as many as 100 wildfires currently raging in California and they have additionally spread into Washington and Oregon.
A serpent’s eye
Sept. 14, 2020: The spiral galaxy NGC 2835 sparkles out in the head of the constellation Hydra, as seen in this photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy is is about half as wide as the Milky Way and has a supermassive black hole millions of times more massive than our sun at its center.
Sept. 11, 2020: These “galactic fireworks” are the colorful stars which make up the globular cluster NGC 1805, as seen in this photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. This cluster of thousands of stars is located out at the edge of the large Magellanic Cloud.
A spacecraft’s backbone
Sept. 10, 2020: This structure is the skeleton, or the frame and base, for the European Service Module that will be part of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which, as part of the agency’s Artemis program, will return humans to the moon. This “backbone” for the Orion spacecraft was built in Turin, Italy at Thales Alenia Space.
Sept. 9, 2020: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy took this photograph of Typhoon Haishen from aboard the International Space Station. The typhoon has led to seven million people being ordered to evacuate and, after hitting Japan it reached the Korean peninsula.
A tilted galaxy
Sept. 8, 2020: The Hubble Space Telescope spied the blue and orange stars of the faint, tilted galaxy NGC 2188, which is estimated to stretch about 50,000 light-years across. The galaxy, thought to be about half the size of the Milky Way, sits in the constellation Columba (the Dove).
Earth from space
Sept. 4, 2020: This image shows the Gulf of Kutch, also known as the Gulf of Kachchh, an inlet of the Arabian Sea along India’s west coast. The photo was snapped by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, which is made up of two satellites. Each satellite of the mission has a high-resolution camera on board to allow the satellites to track changes in bodies of water on Earth.
The Nereidum Mountain Range
Sept. 3, 2020: This color-coded topographic view shows the Nereidum Mountain range, which lies on the surface of Mars in the planet’s southern hemisphere. The image shows a region within the mountain range which is a part of the large Argyre impact basin, one of the biggest impact structures on the entire Red Planet.
Sept. 2, 2020: The Helicon Plasma Thruster, developed by the European Space Agency by SENER in Spain, completes a test firing in this image. The thruster, which uses high power radio frequency waves to turn propellant into a plasma, is designed to propel small satellites and maintain large megaconstellations of satellites.
Riding a blast wave
Sept. 1, 2020: This brilliant streak of light is a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, as spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope. The blast, which is about 2,400 light-years away, was from a supernova explosion that tore apart a dying star 20 times more massive than our sun between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.
SpaceX nails another launch and landing
Aug. 31, 2020: Saturday (Aug. 30, 2020), SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying the SAOCOM 1B Earth-observation radar satellite for Argentina and two small rideshare payloads. This was SpaceX’s 15th launch of the year, successfully lifting off at 7:18 p.m. EDT (2318 GMT). Soon after launch, the booster’s first stage landed perfectly back on Earth.
Aug. 28, 2020: In this image, which combines data from the Advanced Camera for Surveys (which is installed on the Hubble Space Telescope) and the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, you can see a cosmic tail emerging from the spiral galaxy D100.
A spectacular, diffuse nebula
Aug. 27, 2020: This image, snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the enormous, fluffy-looking nebula NGC 595. The nebula, located about three million light-years away from Earth in the Triangulum Galaxy, is made up of ionised hydrogen.
Hurricane Laura from space
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2020: Hurricane Laura looks fearsome in the Gulf of Mexico from orbit in this view from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy.
Cassidy captured this view on Aug. 25 as Laura reached hurricane status while making its way toward the U.S. Gulf Coast. The storm is expected to make landfall Thursday, Aug. 27, as a powerful Category 3 storm. — Tariq Malik
The Barred Method
Monday, Aug. 24, 2020: The double-barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is seen by the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile. It’s known as the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy.
NGC 1635 is located 56 million light-years away in the Fornax galaxy cluster. Its twin bar structure is rare, according to ESO, and is thought to be caused by both the galaxy’s rotation and the intricate dynamics of its stars. — Tariq Malik
Aug. 21, 2020: The Hubble Space Telescope captured a spectacular, cosmic fireworks show in this image of the galaxy NGC 2442, nicknamed the Meathook Galaxy because of its unusual shape. This galaxy held the white dwarf star supernova SN2015F, which was first discovered in March 2015.
Aug. 20, 2020: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy shared this photo of Hurricane Genevieve snapped from the International Space Station. The storm, which is enormous and swirling on in the Pacific Ocean, has grown into a Category 4 hurricane.
A spectacular galactic cluster
Aug. 19, 2020: This image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2597 was spotted by NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory. In the image, you can see a cloud of hot gas with two dark “ghost cavities” resting about 100,000 light-years from its bright center. The ghost cavities are thought to be the ancient relics of an eruption from around a black hole.
Crew-1 ready to roll
Aug. 18, 2020: SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission, its first fully crewed, fully operational Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station, is gearing up to launch no sooner than Oct. 23, 2020. This is the SpaceX Crew-1 official crew portrait with the full mission crew. From the left you can see NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
A sparkling star cluster
Aug. 17, 2020: The Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 snapped this image of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae. In this image there are about 35,000 stars near the cluster’s center. In this picture you can see the natural colors of the stars, which allow scientists to determine things like how old the stars might be and what they could be made out of.
Saluting the sun
Aug. 14, 2020: After four months of total darkness, on Aug. 11, the sun finally rose at the Concordia research station in Antarctica. Here, you can see ESA-sponsored medical doctor Stijn Thoolen (left) and engineer Wenceslas Marie-Sainte (right) celebrating the sunrise. The pair are part of a 12-member crew spending a year working, living and researching at the station.
Aug. 13, 2020: The astronauts who will fly as part of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission, Crew Dragon commander NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, pilot and NASA astronaut Victor Glover and mission specialist, fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and mission specialist and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The four will launch with this mission aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station.
Mauritius oil spill
Aug. 12, 2020: The Copernicus Sentinel-2 captured this image on Aug. 11 of the island of Mauritius, which has declared a “state of environmental emergency” following an oil spill, from space. In the image, you can see the vessel MV Wakashio, which was reported to be carrying about 4,000 tons of oil, stranded near an important wetland area.
Aug. 11, 2020: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy snapped this breathtaking shot of the Galapagos Islands from his current post aboard the International Space Station. Cassidy recently bade farewell to fellow astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley who successfully and safely made their way back to Earth and, in doing so, completed the SpaceX Demo-2 mission.
Red sky observatory
Aug. 10, 2020: The setting sun created an array of colorful clouds above the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile, which is home to the Very Large Telescope. In addition to the beautifully hued clouds, you might be able to spot a “sun pillar” in the upper left of this image. A sun pillar is a bright column of light created when tiny particles of ice in the atmosphere reflect ambient light.
Saturn in striking detail
Aug. 7, 2020: This image of Saturn, snapped by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, reveals the planet’s swirling, turbulent atmosphere and striking, signature rings. You can even see the planet’s mysterious “hexagon,” the hexagonal storm constantly swirling at its north pole, right on “top” of the planet.
A successful splashdown
Aug. 6, 2020: On Sunday (Aug. 2), NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley splashed back down on Earth inside of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, successfully completing the SpaceX Demo-2 mission to and from the International Space Station. This was the first splashdown landing for the U.S. in roughly 45 years.
A space butterfly
Aug. 5, 2020: This stunning image, taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), shows the “space butterfly,” the planetary nebula NGC 2899. The nebula’s gases, forming the shape of a cosmic butterfly, stretch out to a maximum of two light-years from its center. The striking structure glows brightly in the Milky Way galaxy.
Bringing a Dragon home
August 3, 2020: Yesterday (Aug. 2), NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made their way home to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour which they rode to space on May 30. With the successful splashdown, SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission is complete and the company will move on to its first operational crewed Crew Dragon mission, Crew-1.
Training for the Dragon
July 31, 2020: NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough can be seen in this image, which McArthur shared to Twitter, at SpaceX, practicing how to fly the company’s Crew Dragon vehicle. The pair will make up half of the crew that will fly to the space station with SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, slated for 2021.
July 30, 2020: Today, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover successfully launched from Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The mission has been smoothly continuing as it begins a seven-month journey to Mars’ Jezero Crater, where it is set to land Feb. 18, 2021.
Training for space
July 29, 2020: ESA astronauts Matthias Maurer and Thomas Pesquet are at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to train for missions to the International Space Station. Pesquet is set to join the crew for SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission which will be the second fully operational, crewed mission with the company’s Crew Dragon vehicle. Matthias is training for his first flight to the space station. The details about this mission, however, have yet to be released.
July 28, 2020: The star cluster NGC 2203 dazzles here in an image by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The cluster contains a number of interesting features including stars about twice as massive as our sun. In studying this cluster, astronomers hope to better understand the timeline and lives of stars.
July 27: NASA astronaut Bob Behnken snapped this incredible photo of Hurricane Hanna (now classified as a tropical storm) from the International Space Station this past Friday (July 24.)
A comet and a space station
July 24, 2020: This striking photo showcases both comet NEOWISE and the International Space Station. This 10-second exposure image shows the space station’s movement as a straight, yellow line and the comet as a diffuse, glowing object seemingly falling from the sky. Comet NEOWISE made its closest approach to Earth yesterday (July 23).
Rosalind Franklin gets ready for Mars
July 23, 2020: Today, the European Space Agency, along with a number of partners, will analyze how ready Rosalind Franklin, the ExoMars robotic craft named after the groundbreaking chemist who discovered the double helix structure of DNA, is for a trip to Mars set for 2022.
Earth from above
July 22, 2020: NASA astronaut Doug Hurley snapped this incredible shot of the Sobradinho Reservoir and São Francisco River in Brazil from the International Space Station and posted it to Twitter on July 21. Hurley flew to the space station May 30 aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle Endeavour as part of the Demo-2 mission and is set to return to Earth on August 2.
A supernova remnant
July 21, 2020: While it might look like a cosmic, space brain, this is actually an image of G292.0+1.8, a young, oxygen-rich remnant from a supernova that scientists think has a pulsar at its center, surrounded by outflowing material. The image, taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Observations using Chandra have created strong evidence that there is a pulsar in G292.0+1.8. Using observations like this, astronomers can study the connection between pulsars (a magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits electromagnetic radiation) and massive stars.
In this image, you can see a shell of expanding gas 36 light-years across. The gas contains elements including oxygen, neon, magnesium, silicon and sulfur.
A sparkling sea of galaxies
July 20, 2020: A sparkling galaxy shines in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy, known as PGC 29388, glimmers amidst a sea of more distant galaxies. It is a dwarf elliptical galaxy, named as such because it is “small” (relatively speaking) with “only” about 100 million to a few billion stars.
July 17, 2020: This images shows the twin tails of Comet NEOWISE, as they appeared on July 5. The image, created by processing data from the WISPR instrument on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, shows a larger comet tail made up of dust and gas and a thin, upper ion tail. The comet came into view this month and skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere have enjoyed observing the comet.
July 16, 2020: The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft swooped by the sun and, with its Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), took these images of the sun on May 30, 2020. This was the probe’s first view of the sun, released today. In these images, you can see the sun’s upper atmosphere at a wavelength of 17 nanometers, which is in an extreme part of the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Minotaur 4 poised for launch
July 15, 2020: A Minotaur 4 rocket is scheduled to liftoff today from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. The mission will launch the secret NROL-129 payload made up of four top secret spy satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.
“This will be our first U.S. Space Force mission and the first dedicated NRO mission from Wallops,” said the Space Force’s Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of Launch Small Launch and Targets Division at the Space and Missile Systems Center, in an Air Force statement. “We look forward to continuing to launch national priority satellites for our NRO partner.”
Science in space
July 14, 2020: In this photo, taken last week and posted to Twitter July 13, 2020, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy works on a piece of equipment aboard the International Space Station. In the image, Cassidy works on the equipment, a deployer known as the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer, on the Japanese Experiment Module slide table.
A stunning spiral galaxy
July 13, 2020: This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the spiral galaxy NGC 7513. The galaxy, which is about 60 million light-years away, is located in the Sculptor constellation and moves at an astounding 972 miles (1,564 kilometers) per second away from planet Earth.
Electric blue clouds
July 10, 2020: Electric blue streaks through the upper regions of Earth’s atmosphere every summer in the Northern Hemisphere. They usually swirl above the Arctic in the mesosphere (about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth’s surface), but sometimes they form lower in the atmosphere and show up in other places across the globe.
This image shows an image of noctilucent (or night-shining) clouds on June 23. The image, made using data from NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) craft, is centered on the North Pole.
The X-ray universe
July 9, 2020: Scientists have created a new, detailed map of the universe, showcasing the cosmos in X-ray radiation. The map uses over a million X-ray sources observed by eROSITA (Extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array), an instrument on the German-Russian satellite mission Spectrum-Röntgen-Gamma, or Spektr-RG.
A fluffy-looking spiral galaxy
July 8, 2020: This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, showcases the fluffy (or flocculent), feathery features of the spiral galaxy NGC 2275. The galaxy is located 67 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer.
Luminous clouds from space
July 7, 2020: Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner, who is currently on board the International Space Station, snapped this stunning new of luminous clouds on Earth from the station. Luminous clouds are the highest cloud formations in Earth’s atmosphere and they appear at an altitude of 43-59 miles (70-95 kilometers).
A brilliant molecular cloud
July 6, 2020: In this image, you can see a piece of the Taurus Molecular Cloud, created using data from the European Space Agency’s Herschel and Planck space telescopes. The bright streaks in this picture show the emission by interstellar dust grains in different wavelengths. The draping pattern of lines shows the magnetic field orientation.
A Martian landing site
July 2, 2020: This elevation map of Jezero Crater on Mars shows the site in a rainbow of colors, with lighter colors representing higher elevation. This Martian crater is the chosen landing site for NASA’s Perseverance rover, previously known as the Mars 2020 rover, which is set to launch to the Red Planet this summer.
Prepping for a spacewalk
July 1, 2020: In this image, Expedition 63 flight engineers NASA astronaut Doug Hurley (middle left) and cosmonaut Ivan Vagner (middle right) helped to prepare NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy for a spacewalk on June 26, 2020. Cassidy and Behnken stepped out for a spacewalk in which they replaced aging nickel-hydrogen batteries on the space station with brand new lithium-ion batteries. The pair embarked on another battery swap spacewalk today (July 1.)
A stunning Dragon view
June 30, 2020: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy snapped this photo of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle docked with the International Space Station and with Earth’s curvature in the background during a spacewalk with Bob Behnken on Friday, June 26, 2020. During this spacewalk, the pair of astronauts swapped out aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with brand new lithium-ion batteries on the space station.
The knife edge galaxy
June 29, 2020: This new image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the incredible stretch of the galaxy NGC 5907, also known as the Knife Edge galaxy. This is a spiral galaxy, much like our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Though, you can’t see the galaxy’s brilliant spiral shape in this image as this image was taken facing the galaxy’s edge.
A flapping space bat
Friday, June 26, 2020: In this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released June 25, 2020, you can see the star HBC 672, nicknamed “Bat Shadow.” The strange feature got its name because it looks like a large, shadowy wing. But its name has even more meaning as, with new Hubble observations from a team led by Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, it appears as if the “bat wings” are “flapping.”
A space station solar transit
Thursday, June 25, 2020: This composite image shows the International Space Station as it transits in front of the sun. Made up of six different frames taken from Fredericksburg, Virginia, this image shows the space station moving at approximately 5 miles per second on June 24, 2020. Five astronauts are currently onboard the space station, including Expedition 63 NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
Cloud art from space
Wednesday, June 24, 2020: Veteran NASA astronaut Doug Hurley, who launched to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft as part of the company’s Demo-2 mission on May 30, snapped this incredible photo from the space station. Hurley’s view from space shows striking cloud formations over the South Pacific Ocean. “Cloud art in the South Pacific,” Hurley wrote alongside the image which he shared on Twitter.
Stitching together a space station
Tuesday, June 23, 2020: Author, journalist and researcher Lee Brandon-Cremer created this panorama of the International Space Station using three images taken from aboard the station by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano.
“For every spacewalk there are thousands of images taken. Sometimes a few images jump out at me,” Brandon-Cremer said in an ESA statement. “One day I realised I could stitch these images together to expand the scene and show what the astronaut sees in a broader sense.”
Spotting a “ring of fire”
Monday, June 22, 2020: With annular solar eclipses, the moon doesn’t cover all of the sun. Instead, it leaves a brilliant “ring of fire” visible around its edge. The 2020 annular solar eclipse occurred on June 21, 2020. In this image, you can see the eclipse as it appeared on June 21, 2020 from Xiamen, Fujian Province of China.
The stunning Butterfly Nebula
Friday, June 19, 2020: The Butterfly Nebula, also known as NGC 6302, is depicted here in a brilliant image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This nebula lies about 3,800 light-years away from planet Earth in the constellation Scorpius. The striking butterfly shape of the nebula stretches out an incredible distance, over two light-years. — Chelsea Gohd
Juno spacecraft swings by Jupiter
Thursday, June 18, 2020: This stunning image of Jupiter was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed its perijove 27 flyby of the gas giant. Perijove is the spot in a probe’s (like Juno) orbit of Jupiter closest to the planet’s center. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed the image using data Juno collected during the flyby which took place on June 2, 2020. — Chelsea Gohd
Space station’s “storm hunter” turns two
Wednesday, June 17, 2020: The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), which monitors Earth’s thunderstorms from the International Space Station, celebrated its second anniversary this week. ASIM, which is mounted outside the European module of the space station, launched in April 2018 and began science operations on June 14, 2018. The payload looks for electrical discharges in Earth’s upper atmosphere — known as red sprites, blue jets and elves — which appear as bright flashes of lighting that extend upward and into space. Because these events happen above thunderstorms, they are difficult to study from the ground, but airplane pilots have reported seeing them during flight. — Hanneke Weitering
A stargazer under the Milky Way
Tuesday, June 16, 2020: Under a sea of stars, a skywatcher points to the beautiful arch of the Milky Way Galaxy in this 360-degree panorama from the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The stargazer in this shot is European Southern Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Babak Tafreshi, and on the left are the telescopes that make up ESO’s Very Large Telescope array, which consists of four boxy Unit Telescopes and four smaller auxiliary telescopes. The image was recently featured as ESO’s Picture of the Week. — Hanneke Weitering
Auroras and airglow over Earth
Monday, June 15, 2020: Green and purple auroras shimmy above the orange airglow of Earth’s upper atmosphere in this colorful view from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy captured this image while the space station was orbiting above the Indian Ocean, between the continents of Australia and Antarctica, on June 7. — Hanneke Weitering
A stellar photobomb
Friday, June 12, 2020: The spiral galaxy NGC 2608 gets “photobombed” by two stars inside our Milky Way galaxy in this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Bright Milky Way stars in the foreground of Hubble’s deep-space images often appear as lens flares, like the one visible in the bottom right corner of this image. Another is just above the center of NGC 2608. All the other specks of light that pepper the black abyss around the galaxy are not stars, but thousands of other distant galaxies. “NGC 2608 is just one among an uncountable number of kindred structures,” Hubble scientists said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Webb telescope passes critical test
Thursday, June 11, 2020: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope just passed another key milestone ahead of its planned launch in 2021. In a recent test at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California, the new observatory deployed and extended its Deployable Tower Assembly. This component of the telescope separates its iconic gold mirrors from the spacecraft’s scientific instruments and propulsion systems. Having that space there will allow the telescope’s cooling systems to bring its instruments “down to staggeringly cold temperatures required to perform optimal science,” NASA said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Waning “Strawberry Moon” seen from space
Wednesday, June 10, 2020: The waning gibbous moon rises over Earth’s blue horizon in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station on Sunday (June 7), two days after the Full Strawberry Moon passed through Earth’s outer shadow, causing a subtle penumbral lunar eclipse. An Expedition 63 crewmember captured this view as the space station was orbiting above the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the African nation of Angola. — Hanneke Weitering
Eclipsed ‘Strawberry Moon’ rises over Portugal
Tuesday, June 9, 2020: The Full Strawberry Moon rises over Ponte da Ajuda, a historic bridge near the border between Portugal and Spain, during the penumbral lunar eclipse on Friday (June 5). Astrophotographer Sérgio Conceição created this composite image of the rising moon from Elvas, Portugal, at the end of the eclipse. During this subtle lunar eclipse, the moon passed through the faint outer part of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, causing its surface to appear slightly tea-stained. “It can be seen that the moon was born with a more intense reddish pink color and started to whiten as it rose,” Conceição told Space.com in an email. — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon spotted over Turkey
Monday, June 8, 2020: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in this photo captured by an astronaut on board the orbiting lab on May 31, shortly before the spacecraft docked with the station. When the image was taken, the space station was orbiting above southwestern Turkey, including the coastal city of Demre, seen here as a grey area below the Crew Dragon. — Hanneke Weitering
Orange airglow over La Silla
Friday, June 5, 2020: The starry night sky is ablaze with orange airglow in this stunning, fulldome view of the La Silla Observatory in Chile, captured by astrophotographer Guillaume Doyen. This soft, orange luminescence is the result of solar particles interacting with Earth’s atmosphere, causing the air to emit visible light.
“Airglow on this night was especially intense, with the strong emissions of orange and red light rippling across the sky visible with the naked eye, even after the sun had set,” officials with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which operates telescopes at La Silla, said in an image description. ESO’s TRAPPIST-South telescope, which famously discovered the TRAPPIST-1 system of Earth-size exoplanets, is visible in the foreground of the image. — Hanneke Weitering
Star cluster ‘snowflakes’
Thursday, June 4, 2020: Sparkling stars shine like cosmic snowflakes in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows the globular cluster NGC 6441 13,000 light-years from the center of our Milky Way galaxy. While hard to count, together the stars in this cluster would weigh 1.6 million times the mas of our sun. This image was released by the European Space Agency’s Hubble science team on June 1. — Tariq Malik
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 returns to Florida
Wednesday, June 3, 2020: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster that launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station this weekend returns to shore on the company’s drone ship, called “Of Course I Still Love You.” After launching the Crew Dragon capsule from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the rocket stuck an upright landing on the drone ship, which was stationed a few hundred miles off the Florida coast. It arrived in Florida’s Port Canaveral on Tuesday (June 2). — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon approaches the space station
Tuesday, June 2, 2020: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board in this photo captured by an astronaut inside the orbiting lab on Sunday (May 31). In the foreground of the image is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) robotic arm, which is attached to Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The Crew Dragon spacecraft docked at the station’s Harmony port on Sunday at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT), while both spacecraft were flying about 262 miles (422 kilometers) above the northern border of China and Mongolia. — Hanneke Weitering
SpaceX makes history
Monday, June 1, 2020: A false-color, infrared exposure shows SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and first Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts on board lifting off from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The historic launch on Saturday (May 30) was the first commercial flight to orbit and the first time NASA astronauts launched from the United States in nearly a decade. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely arrived at the International Space Station Sunday morning. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble eyes a star cluster with a dustless heart
Friday, May 29, 2020: The massive star cluster Westerlund 2, seen here in a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, is filled with young stars surrounded by dense clouds of interstellar dust that’s in the process of forming baby planets. But the stars in the center of the cluster don’t have the same planet-building supplies as their neighbors near the cluster’s outskirts, Hubble observations have revealed. The absence of dust in the center of Westerlund 2 is caused by “blistering ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds” coming from the biggest and brightest stars of the cluster, which congregate in the cluster’s core, eroding and blasting away all the dust, Hubble officials said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon at sunset
Wednesday, May 27, 2020: The sun sets behind a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the last time before the rocket’s planned launch of two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. The Falcon 9 rocket, topped with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, is set to launch the Demo-2 mission from this historic launch pad today at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT), weather permitting. On board will be Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will become the first NASA astronauts to travel to the International Space Station in a commercial spacecraft. SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted this photo on Tuesday night (May 26). — Hanneke Weitering
Clouds roll in over Crew Dragon
Tuesday, May 26, 2020: Dark clouds loom over a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in this photo captured on Monday (May 25), just two days before the rocket is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on its first crewed test flight to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will become the first people to launch to orbit from U.S. soil in nearly a decade after they lift off in the Crew Dragon on Wednesday (May 27). SpaceX and NASA officials completed the final launch readiness review on Monday and declared the mission “go” for launch, but officials are keeping an eye on some potentially troublesome weather that could push to launch to this weekend (May 30-31). — Hanneke Weitering
Behold, SpaceX’s Demo-2 Crew Dragon
Monday, May 25, 2020: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and its Falcon 9 rocket stand atop Launch Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center amid a dazzling twilight sky in this view released by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Sunday, May 24. The spacecraft is poised to launch the first astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil since 2011 under a commercial crew contract with NASA. Read our full coverage here. — Tariq Malik
Crew Dragon arrives at the launch pad
Friday, May 22, 2020: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule sits ready for launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On Wednesday (May 27), two NASA astronauts will launch to the International Space Station for the first crewed test flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. The Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket reached the launch site on Thursday (May 21). — Hanneke Weitering
A cosmic selfie
Thursday, May 21, 2020: Surrounded by telescopes, European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Petr Horálek basks in the light of the Milky Way galaxy in this cosmic selfie. The panoramic image shows Horálek standing among the many antennas that make up the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Atacama Desert in Chile. — Hanneke Weitering
Tropical Cyclone Amphan hits India
Wednesday, May 20, 2020: Tropical Cyclone Amphan, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, approaches eastern India and Bangladesh in this view captured by NASA’s Terra satellite on Tuesday (May 19). The storm made landfall today near Sagar Island in West Bengal, India, near the border with Bangladesh. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way meets the zodiacal light
Tuesday, May 19, 2020: The dusty arc of the Milky Way galaxy stretches across the night sky in this circular fisheye view. European Southern Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Mahdi Zamani captured this image from Cerro Armazones, a mountain in northern Chile. “Thanks to the exceptionally clear and dark skies, the thousands of stars and dusty clouds that make up the Milky Way Galaxy are visible,” ESO said in an image description. The elusive zodiacal light is shown in the top right while a faint orange airglow lights up the entire night sky. — Hanneke Weitering
A galactic duet
Monday, May 18, 2020: Two spiral galaxies collectively known as Arp 271 look like they’re getting ready to collide. The two interacting galaxies, NGC 5426 and NGC 5427, have formed a bridge of material where new stars are beginning to form. If the galaxies do end up crashing into each other, the collision will trigger a wave of new star formation over the next few million years, according to the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This same type of interaction may happen to our own Milky Way galaxy when it collides with the Andromeda galaxy in the next five billion years or so, ESO said. — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon splashes down after drop test
Friday, May 15, 2020: A mockup of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule with two crash test dummies inside splashes into the water during a drop test at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. SpaceX conducted a series of these drop tests in March 2019 to find out how different wind and parachute dynamics affect the capsule during a splashdown, and to make sure its astronaut occupants can safely return to Earth. Less than two weeks from now, a real Crew Dragon will launch astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time. — Hanneke Weitering
A galactic bridge in Abell 2384
Thursday, May 14, 2020: A few hundred millions years ago, two distant galaxy clusters collectively known as Abell 2384 collided, passing through each other and creating a “bridge” of hot gas between the clusters that spans more than 3 million light-years. A new composite image of Abell 2384 has revealed that a supermassive black hole lurking at the center of one of these galaxy clusters is shaping this galactic bridge by blasting it with a powerful jet of energetic particles.
The new image combines X-ray data from Europe’s XMM-Newton telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in blue), along with radio observations from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India (shown in red) and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey (shown in yellow). — Hanneke Weitering
So long, Cygnus!
Wednesday, May 13, 2020: Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-13 cargo resupply spacecraft, with its shiny, cymbal-shaped solar arrays, is pictured in the grasp of the Canadarm2 robot arm on the International Space Station just before the vessel’s departure on Monday (May 11). The NG-13 cargo ship, which delivered 7,500 lbs. (3,400 kilograms) of supplies for the station’s three-person Expedition 62 crew in February, will spend the next few weeks flying solo in orbit, deploying tiny satellites and conducting a fire experiment. It will fall back to Earth on May 29 and safely burn up in our planet’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean. — Hanneke Weitering
NASA satellite spots a winter wonderland
Tuesday, May 12, 2020: This wintery landscape may look like the scene of an ancient, frosty river on Mars, but this image was taken by a satellite orbiting our own planet. The winding waterway flowing through this frame is the Dnieper River in Ukraine. It is the fourth-longest river in Europe, with a total length of about 1,400 miles (2,200 kilometers). NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of a portion of the Dnieper River near the Ukrainian city of Oster using its Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument, which images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. — Hanneke Weitering
First responders honored in space
Monday, May 11, 2020: To honor the frontline medical workers of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, which marked the end of World War II in Europe, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan tweeted this photo of a WWII medical armband floating in the Cupola observatory of the International Space Station.
“Much like first responders on the frontlines today, 75 years ago combat medics bravely faced grave danger to save fellow #Soldiers on the battlefield,” Morgan tweeted May 8. “This WW2 medical armband accompanied me to @space_station and will soon reside @NatlArmyMuseum.” Morgan returned from the space station in April after spending 272 days on board the orbiting lab. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble eyes a two-armed galaxy
Friday, May 8, 2020: This new image from the Hubble Space Telescope features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3583. Located some 98 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major, NGC 3583 is about three-quarters the size of our Milky Way galaxy. But while the Milky Way has four distinct spiral arms that wrap around its galactic core, NGC 3583 has two long arms that twist out into the universe. Astronomers have observed two supernova explosions in this galaxy, one in 1975 and then again in 2015. — Hanneke Weitering
Full Flower Supermoon
Thursday, May 7, 2020: The nearly-full moon of May, known as the Flower Moon, gleams against the twilight sky in this photo taken by Kevin M. Gill of Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday night. The moon reached full phase this morning at 6:45 a.m. EDT (1045 GMT). According to NASA, this was the fourth and final “supermoon” of 2020, although some astronomers disagree about whether it qualified as a “supermoon.” — Hanneke Weitering
A black hole hides among the stars
Wednesday, May 6, 2020: Lurking stealthily in the center of this wide-field image of the Telescopium constellation is the closest black hole to Earth, a record-breaking discovery that astronomers announced today. The newfound black hole is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in what astronomers originally believed to be a binary, or double-star system. But thorough observations of the star system, called HR 6819, revealed an invisible third object influencing the stars’ orbits. Although the black hole itself is invisible, the stars in the HR 6819 system are bright enough to see without a telescope in a dark, clear sky from the Southern Hemisphere. This image of HR 6819 was captured as part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. — Hanneke Weitering
An astronaut’s view of the Big Apple
Tuesday, May 5, 2020: This photo of Earth from space, captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station, features the Greater New York City area, including parts of Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey. An Expedition 63 crewmember captured this view of the Big Apple from approximately 257 miles (413 kilometers) overhead on April 28. — Hanneke Weitering
Mexico seen from space
Monday, May 4, 2020: An astronaut on board the International Space Station captured almost all of Mexico in a single shot while photographing planet Earth from inside the station’s Cupola observatory. Framing the shot is the center window of the Cupola, and the golden solar array of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft is visible below. You can find an annotated version of this image from NASA here. — Hanneke Weitering
“Stretched” spiral galaxy bursts with baby stars
Friday, May 1, 2020: A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope features the sparkling spiral galaxy NGC 4100, which is teeming with baby stars. The galaxy’s spiral arms are speckled with pockets of bright blue starlight radiating from hot newborn stars. NGC 4100 is located about 67 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major, and it belongs to a group of galaxies called the Ursa Major Cluster. It’s about three-quarters the size of the Milky Way, which is also a spiral galaxy, and it “looks almost stretched across the sky” in this new view, Hubble scientists said in a statement. The space telescope captured this image using its Advanced Camera for Surveys, and it was released today (May 1). — Hanneke Weitering
“Spiders” spotted on Mars
Thursday, April 30, 2020: Strange, spider-like features creep on the surface of Mars in this image taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These spidery landforms are what scientists call “araneiform” terrain, which literally translates to “spider-like.” The features arise because the Red Planet’s climate is so cold that during the Martian winter, carbon dioxide freezes from the atmosphere and accumulates as ice on the surface. When that ice begins to thaw in the spring, that carbon dioxide sublimates back into the atmosphere, or turns from a solid to a gas, leaving behind deep troughs in the terrain as gas is trapped below the surface. — Hanneke Weitering
Dwarf galaxy “steals the show” in Hubble image
Wednesday, April 29, 2020: In a deep-space image featuring countless distant galaxies of all shapes and sizes, a tiny dwarf galaxy takes center stage. The small elliptical galaxy in the foreground of this new Hubble Space Telescope image is known as PGC 29388. It contains between 100 million to a few billion stars, which pales in comparison to our Milky Way galaxy, which has 250 to 400 billion stars. “As beautiful as the surrounding space may be, the sparkling galaxy in the foreground of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope undeniably steals the show,” Hubble scientists said in a statement. The image was released on April 20, a few days before the telescope celebrated its 30th anniversary. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way sparkles over La Silla
Tuesday, April 28, 2020: The arc of the Milky Way galaxy shimmers over the La Silla Observatory in Chile in this gorgeous night-sky view by European Southern Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Petr Horálek. In the center of the image is the ESO 3.6-metre telescope, and to its left is the Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler telescope. Visible beneath the righthand limb of the Milky Way’s starry arc are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. Saturn is visible under the left side of the arc, with Jupiter glowing brightly just above it and slightly to the left. You can see more in a 360-degree panoramic version of this image here. — Hanneke Weitering
Venus meets the crescent moon
Monday, April 27, 2020: The bright “evening star” Venus shines near the crescent moon in this photo captured by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome. Venus and the moon made a close approach in the evening sky yesterday (April 26), and the planet will reach its greatest brightness of the year tomorrow (April 28). — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble captures a “cosmic reef”
Friday, April 24, 2020: Happy birthday, Hubble! To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA released this new image of a “cosmic undersea world” that is teeming with stars and colorful clouds of interstellar dust and gas. The image features the giant red nebula NGC 2014 and its smaller blue companion NGC 2020, both located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located 163,000 light-years from Earth. Hubble scientists have nicknamed the image the “Cosmic Reef,” because the large nebula “resembles part of a coral reef floating in a vast sea of stars,” Hubble officials said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
A Lyrid meteor and the Milky Way
Thursday, April 23, 2020: A “shooting star” crosses the Milky Way galaxy in this photo taken during the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Photographer Tina Pappas Lee captured this view from Fripp Island, South Carolina, on Wednesday (April 22) at approximately 4:45 a.m. local time. Directly below the meteor, two of the brightest planets in the night sky, Jupiter and Saturn, are visible side by side. — Hanneke Weitering
Apollo 16’s “Earthrise”
Wednesday, April 22, 2020: Happy Earth Day from space! This stunning view of Earth rising above the lunar horizon was captured by NASA’s Apollo 16 crew shortly before they landed on the moon 48 years ago. The astronauts snapped this picture, which appears to have been inspired by Apollo 13’s famous “Earthrise” photo, on April 20, 1972, the same day the lunar module Orion touched down on the surface with NASA astronauts John Young, Apollo 16 commander, and lunar module pilot Charlie Duke. Command module pilot Ken Mattingly stayed in orbit during their 71-hour stay on on the surface. — Hanneke Weitering
Starlink satellites spotted from space
Tuesday, April 21, 2020: A chain of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites orbits over Earth’s lime-green auroras in this photo captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station. The tiny satellite trails were captured on Monday (April 13) at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT), as the station was passing over the southern Indian Ocean at an altitude of about 231 nautical miles (428 kilometers), NASA said in an image description. The satellites pictured here appear to belong to the fifth batch of approximately 60 satellites that SpaceX has launched for its new Starlink constellation, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who avidly tracks objects in Earth’s orbit. The company plans to launch its seventh batch of satellites on Wednesday (April 22). — Hanneke Weitering
Related: No, they’re not aliens — SpaceX’s Starlink satellites surprise British skywatchers
Meteor and the Milky Way over La Silla
Monday, April 20, 2020: A “shooting star” streaks through the night sky near the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two of Earth’s galactic neighbors, in this photo from the La Silla Observatory in Chile. In the foreground of the image are two of the three new ExTrA (Exoplanets in Transits and their Atmospheres) telescopes at the observatory. — Hanneke Weitering
Space station crew returns to Earth
Friday, April 17, 2020: The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft carrying three astronauts back from the International Space Station parachutes down to Earth before landing in Kazakhstan. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan and their Russian crewmember Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos safely touched down today at 1:16:43 a.m. EDT (0516 GMT or 11:16 a.m. local Kazakh time), southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble eyes a multiring galaxy
Thursday, April 16, 2020: The Hubble Space Telescope has captured this new view of a peculiar spiral galaxy with rings within its winding galactic arms. Known as NGC 2273, this galaxy is officially designated as a barred spiral, meaning that it has a central bar of stars and pinwheeling arms. But this galaxy also has several ring structures within its spiral arms. NGC 2273 hosts one inner ring along with two outer “pseudorings.” Astronomers believe these rings were created by spiral arms appearing to wind up tightly into a closed loop. — Hanneke Weitering
Soyuz approaches the space station
Wednesday, April 15, 2020: Earth’s fluffy clouds and blue horizon provide a gorgeous backdrop for the Soyuz MS-16 crew spacecraft, seen here approaching the International Space Station with three Expedition 63 crewmembers on board. The Soyuz arrived at the orbiting lab on Thursday (April 9) with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. An astronaut at the International Space Station captured this image from approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean, near the coast of Peru. — Hanneke Weitering
A shimmering dance
Tuesday, April 14, 2020: An astronaut on the International Space Station captured this image of the aurora australis over the Indian Ocean on April 8, 2020. At the time, the space station was near the southernmost point in its orbit, and preparing for the arrival of three new crewmembers. — Meghan Bartels
Monday, April 13, 2020: On April 10, the European-Japanese spacecraft BepiColombo conducted a flyby of Earth, which slowed the probe’s speed enough to turn its trajectory toward the inner solar system. The next day, the spacecraft took its final image of Earth, a delicate bright crescent in the vastness of space. — Meghan Bartels
The day before launch
Friday, April 10, 2020: Fifty years ago today, NASA astronauts Jack Swigert, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise posed with a model of the spacecraft they would launch on the next day for the mission dubbed Apollo 13. The flight was plagued with challenges even before launch, and the crew would experience a catastrophic explosion in the mission’s service module, but all three returned to Earth safely. — Meghan Bartels
Expedition 63 lifts off
Thursday, April 9, 2020: A Russian Soyuz rocket soars toward the International Space Station with three Expedition 63 crewmembers after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today (April 9) at 4:05 a.m. EDT (0805 GMT or 1:05 p.m. local Kazakh time). The Soyuz MS-16 crew capsule safely arrived at the orbiting laboratory about six hours later, with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner on board. — Hanneke Weitering
“Pink Moon” seen from space
Wednesday, April 8, 2020: The nearly-full Pink Moon rises over a cloud-covered Earth in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. This photo was taken on Monday (April 6), one day before the supermoon, or a full moon that coincides with the moon’s perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. Because the full moon of April is traditionally called the Pink Moon, last night’s supermoon has been referred to as the “Super Pink Moon.” — Hanneke Weitering
Juno spots hazy clouds on Jupiter
Tuesday, April 7, 2020: Hazy clouds streak across Jupiter’s northern hemisphere in this new image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. These long, thin cloud bands consist of haze particles that drift above the planet’s underlying cloud features. While the cause of these wispy clouds is still a bit of a mystery, scientists believe the hazy features could be related to Jupiter’s jet streams. “Two jet streams in Jupiter’s atmosphere flank either side of the region where the narrow bands of haze typically appear, and some researchers speculate those jet streams may influence the formation of the high hazes,” NASA officials said in a statement. T
he Juno orbiter captured this image during its 25th close flyby of Jupiter, also known as a perijove, on Feb. 17 at 12:29 p.m. EST (1729 GMT), when the spacecraft was about 15,610 miles (25,120 kilometers) from the planet’s cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering
Two Saturnian moons
Monday, April 6, 2020: Saturn’s moons Rhea and Janus tango on opposite sides of the planet’s famous ring system in this new color-enhanced image from NASA’s Cassini orbiter. Rhea, Saturn’s second-largest moon, is visible in the foreground, while the smaller moon Janus is pictured in the distance across the rings. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill recently processed this 10-year-old view of Saturn and two of its moons using calibrated red, green and blue filtered images captured by the Cassini spacecraft on March 28, 2010. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble eyes a one-arm spiral galaxy
Friday, April 3, 2020: A new Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the peculiar structure of a spiral galaxy with only one starry arm rotating about its center. While most barred spiral galaxies are characterized by a distinct bar-shaped structure of stars centered on a galactic core, this barred spiral isn’t like most others. Located 21 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici, this strange galaxy, known as NGC 4618, was first thought to be a star cluster when the astronomer William Herschel discovered it in 1787. Astronomers now think that gravitational interactions with a neighboring galaxy may have influenced this galaxy’s shape. — Hanneke Weitering
Venus meets the Pleiades
Thursday, April 2, 2020: The bright planet Venus begins its trek past the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the “Seven Sisters,” in this photo taken by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy on Wednesday (April 1). Venus, which reaches its greatest brightness of the year at the end of the month, will make a close approach to the Pleiades tomorrow (April 3), when the two objects will be in conjunction — meaning they share the same celestial longitude — for the first time in 8 years. During the conjunction, Venus will be just one-quarter of a degree southeast of Alcyone, the brightest star in the cluster. Look for the pair in the western evening sky. You can also watch a live stream of the encounter from the Virtual Telescope Project here, starting at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT). — Hanneke Weitering
Webb telescope deploys its mirrors
Wednesday, April 1, 2020: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has successfully deployed its giant primary mirror, putting the new observatory one big step closer to being ready for launch in 2021. The entire 256-inch (6.5 meters) primary mirror assembly unfurled into the same configuration that it would be after deploying in space. This critical test took place in early March, right before NASA’s centers shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Work on the Webb telescope was temporarily halted on March 20. It is scheduled to launch in March 2021, though even before the coronavirus pandemic, that date was expected to slip. — Hanneke Weitering
A “fluffy” spiral galaxy
Tuesday, March 31, 2020: While most spiral galaxies have clearly defined arms the twist around a galactic core, others have patchy spiral arms that are not clearly distinguishable and resemble cotton wool. Due to this wooly appearance, the galaxy NGC 4237, shown here in a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, is classified as a “flocculent” spiral galaxy. Located 60 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Coma Berenices, or “Berenice’s Hair,” NGC 4237 has been a target for astronomers, not because of its fluffy appearance, but because its bright central region may bear clues about how supermassive black holes form inside galaxies. — Hanneke Weitering
Airglow shines over Malaysia and Indonesia
Monday, March 30, 2020: City lights of Malaysia and Indonesia light up the Earth beneath a blanket of blue and orange airglow while boat lights glow in the Bay of Bengal in this nighttime view of Earth from space. An Expedition 62 astronaut captured this photo from the International Space Station on March 21, when the space station was orbiting 262 miles (422 kilometers) overhead. — Hanneke Weitering
Comet Atlas blazes through the night sky
Friday, March 27, 2020: Comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas is slowly brightening in the night sky as it gets ready to swing around the sun in a couple months. Astrophotographer Mike Cuffe captured these two images of the green comet through his backyard telescope on Monday (March 23). In the first stacked image, the comet appears a bit blurry as it moves across a fixed background of stars. For the second image, the telescope was fixed on the comet, so the background stars appear as short trails behind a sharper image of the comet. Comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on May 23, about one week before it reaches perihelion, or its closest point to the sun. It will brighten dramatically during this approach, and it may become visible to the naked eye in late April or May. — Hanneke Weitering
Atlas V rocket stands ready for launch
Thursday, March 26, 2020: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket stands ready for launch on Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket is scheduled to launch the U.S. Space Force’s sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite, or AEHF-6, today during a 2-hour launch window that opens at 2:57 p.m. EDT (1857 GMT). AEHF-6 will be the first national security mission for the Space Force, and this Atlas V will be the first rocket to launch bearing the Space Force’s new logo. You can watch the launch live here. — Hanneke Weitering
VLT’s Laser Guide Star
Wednesday, March 25, 2020: The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) beams its laser guide star into the night sky over Chile, creating a beam of light that arcs above the Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers use giant laser beams like these to help their telescopes correct for the distortion caused by turbulence in Earth’s atmosphere, which can make stars appear to twinkle. For observations at the VLT, astronomers rely on the Laser Guide Star Facility at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Pictured in the foreground are four domes of the SPECULOOS Southern Observatory. — Hanneke Weitering
Orion and the USS John P. Murtha
Tuesday, March 24, 2020: NASA’s Orion crew capsule floats behind the USS John P. Murtha in the Pacific Ocean after the landing and recovery crews from the Exploration Ground Systems team at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center performed their first full mission profile test of recovery procedures for the Artemis 1 mission, on March 13. Scheduled to launch in the second half of 2021, the Artemis 1 mission will mark the first uncrewed test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket and Orion spacecraft. After landing, air bags on top of the spacecraft will ensure that the capsule floats upright. — Hanneke Weitering
Curiosity snaps a selfie on Mars
Monday, March 23, 2020: NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity snapped this selfie after drilling a hole at a rock feature called “Hutton” and making its way up to the Greenheugh Pediment, the rocky mound seen here behind the rover and to the left. This panorama combines 86 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on Curiosity’s robotic arm on Feb. 26, the 2,687th Martian day, or “sol,” of the rover’s mission on the Red Planet. You can see an annotated version of this image here. — Hanneke Weitering
Auroras and airglow over Earth
Friday, March 20, 2020: Green auroras clash with orange airglow in this stunning view of Earth from the International Space Station. An Expedition 62 crewmember captured this photo from 263 miles (423 kilometers) above the Earth as the space station passed over Kazakhstan on Tuesday (March 17). Three weeks from now, three new space station crewmembers are scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan to the orbiting laboratory. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts, Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, lift off on a Soyuz rocket April 9. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way over ELT
Thursday, March 19, 2020: In this stunning night sky photo, the full arc of the Milky Way galaxy glitters over a photographer’s shadow at the construction site for the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), on the Chilean mountain Cerro Armazones. Scheduled to open in 2025, ELT will be “the world’s biggest eye on the sky,” with a 39-meter (128-foot) primary mirror. ELT will scan the skies in optical and near-infrared wavelengths of light to search for worlds beyond our solar system, particularly for potentially Earth-like exoplanets. It will also help astronomers study how planets, stars, galaxies and black holes formed in the early universe. — Hanneke Weitering
A stellar nursery in the Tarantula Nebula
Wednesday, March 18, 2020: A new Hubble Space Telescope image features a stellar nursery on the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula. Known as LHA 120-N 150, this bright pink space cloud is located more than 160,000 light-years away from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. This colorful nebula is rich with new star formation, and it has an “exceptionally high concentration of massive stars, Hubble scientists said in a statement. By studying LHA 120-N 150, astronomers hope to learn more about the kind of environment in which massive stars form. — Hanneke Weitering
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from space!
Tuesday, March 17, 2020: To honor St. Patrick’s day at the International Space Station today, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan tweeted this photo of an Irish flag floating in one of the windows of the Cupola observatory in the orbiting lab. One of the space station’s solar arrays is visible through the window, while Earth provides a cloudy backdrop. Along with this photo of the flag, Morgan tweeted a photo of Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isle, that he captured from the space station. — Hanneke Weitering
U.S. Eastern Seaboard seen from space
Monday, March 16, 2020: A new view of Earth from the International Space Station features much of the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., stretching from New York City to South Carolina. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan shared the photo on Twitter last Thursday (March 12). In the foreground on the left side of the frame is Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-13 cargo resupply spacecraft, which arrived at the space station Feb. 18. On the right is a portion of the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. — Hanneke Weitering
A galaxy with “hunger pangs”
Friday, March 13, 2020: A new Hubble Space Telescope image of the spiral galaxy NGC 1589 reveals the galaxy’s bright central bulge, where a supermassive black hole is lurking in a group of tightly packed stars. The galaxy “was once the scene of a violent bout of cosmic hunger pangs,” Hubble astronomers said in a statement.
Located 168 million light-years from Earth in the Taurus constellation, NGC 1589 was discovered by William Herschel in 1783. “As astronomers looked on, a poor, hapless star was seemingly torn apart and devoured by the ravenous supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy,” the Hubble team said. Now astronomers are using Hubble to look for any evidence of stellar debris that was ejected when the star ripped apart. — Hanneke Weitering
China’s city lights seen from space
Thursday, March 12, 2020: City lights illuminate southeast China by night in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. The large, bright cluster of lights near the center of this image represent the city of Shanghai, the most highly populated city in the country, located on the coast of the East China Sea. The small, dense cluster just to the left of Shanghai is the city of Hefei, the capital of Anhui and the largest city in that province of China. In the bottom left corner of the image is Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and “ground zero” of the novel coronavirus outbreak. This photo was taken on March 5, as the International Space Station passed over the Asian continent at an altitude of about 259 miles (417 kilometers). — Hanneke Weitering
Related: Dramatic effect of coronavirus lockdowns seen from space
Milky Way sparkles over Yellowstone
Wednesday, March 11, 2020: The Milky Way shimmers over Yellowstone National Park in this starry night-sky photo by Chirag Upreti. This panorama combines 10 frames captured from the “Mound and Jupiter Terrace” at Mammoth Hot Springs, and it features an excellent view of the planet Jupiter, shining brightly to the right of the Milky Way while reflecting off the surface of the water below. Saturn is also visible in the photo, shining to the left of the Milky Way, directly above the asterism known as the Teapot.
“The Dark Horse Nebula can be seen apparently jumping over the mound and to the right of Jupiter,” Upreti told Space.com. “It was an amazing experience to witness the stars and the Milky Way, knowing you are standing over terrain dictated by the raw power of a supervolcano, an incredible place to feel the bond between Earth and the night sky.” — Hanneke Weitering
“Super Worm Moon” rises over Washington
Tuesday, March 10, 2020: The first supermoon of the year peers through a blanket of clouds above the U.S. Capitol in Washington in this photo captured by NASA photographer Joel Kowsky on Monday (March 9). Also known as the “Worm Moon,” the full moon of March nearly coincided with the moon’s perigee, or the closest point to Earth in the moon’s elliptical orbit. The moon was officially full on Monday at 1:48 p.m. EDT (1748 GMT), and it reached perigee almost 13 hours later, at 2:33 a.m. EDT (0633 GMT) today. — Hanneke Weitering
SpaceX’s Dragon arrives at the space station
Monday, March 9, 2020: This Dragon cargo ship marked the end of an era of sorts for private spaceship builder SpaceX when it arrived at the International Space Station today. The Dragon CRS-20 spacecraft seen here is the last SpaceX Dragon to be captured by a robotic arm and attached to the station. Future SpaceX Dragon resupply flights will use the company’s new Dragon 2 version, which can dock itself at the station.
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir unveiled this photo on Twitter after using the station’s robotic arm to capture the Dragon capsule. She wrote: “From now on, SpaceX will automatically dock to station. This Dragon capsule has been on station 2 times prior – sustainability is paramount to future space exploration.” — Tariq Malik
A weird crater on Mars
Friday, March 6, 2020: A new image from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter reveals an odd, misshapen impact crater on Mars known as Moreux crater. While most craters appear roughly circular in shape, the outline of Moreux crater is shaped more like a fried egg. The crater’s dark walls appear ridged and rippled, while dark brown and black dunes are smeared across the crater floor. The tall peak in its center is a pile of material that was ejected from the Martian terrain when the initial impact happened a few million years ago. Moreux crater’s contorted appearance developed over a long period of time, as erosion, wind and glacial activity shaped the planet’s surface. This image was created using data collected by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express, when the spacecraft flew over the area in October 2019. — Hanneke Weitering
An astronaut’s view of NYC
Thursday, March 5, 2020: A new view of New York City captured from the International Space Station show’s the city’s skyline in incredible detail. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir photographed the city from the orbiting laboratory, which circles the Earth at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers). “Clear views of bustling #NYC day and night lately from @Space_Station,” Meir tweeted on Wednesday (March 4). “Central Park looks inviting. Midtown’s skyline reminds me of a metallic pin art impression.” — Hanneke Weitering
A portrait of Saturn’s moon Enceladus
Wednesday, March 4, 2020: A new global view of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus shows the tiny satellite’s “tiger stripe” fissures and frosty plumes in stunning detail. This artist’s illustration of Enceladus was created from a global map that scientists working on NASA’s Cassini mission stitched together from images that the spacecraft collected during its first 10 years of exploring the Saturn system. — Hanneke Weitering
Merging storms spotted on Jupiter
Tuesday, March 3, 2020: Two white, oval-shaped storms in Jupiter’s atmosphere have been spotted merging into one. NASA’s Juno spacecraft caught these anticyclonic storms in the act using its JunoCam imager on Dec. 26, 2019, as the spacecraft was completing its 24th perijove, or close flyby of the planet. At the time, Juno was passing about 44,900 miles (72,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops at a latitude of about 60 degrees south.
NASA has been tracking the larger of the two merging storms for years, and scientists have watched it gobble up several smaller storms in the past, NASA said in a statement. It narrowly avoided a merger with this same storm just a few months before this image was captured, when the two made a close approach as they churned through the planet’s turbulent atmosphere. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble spots a galactic “traffic jam”
Monday, March 2, 2020: A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3887, with its long, winding arms and bright galactic core. The German-English astronomer William Herschel discovered this galaxy, which is located 60 million light-years away from Earth, about 234 years ago. At the time, astronomers didn’t understand how such spiral arms could even exist, because they thought a galaxy’s spinning core would eventually wind them up so tightly that the spirals would disappear. It wasn’t until the 1960s that astronomers came up with an explanation.
“Rather than behaving like rigid structures, spiral arms are in fact areas of greater density in a galaxy’s disc, with dynamics similar to those of a traffic jam,” Hubble officials said in a statement. “The density of cars moving through a traffic jam increases at the center of the jam, where they move more slowly. Spiral arms function in a similar way; as gas and dust move through the density waves, they become compressed and linger, before moving out of them again.” — Hanneke Weitering
Cubesat embarks on a fiery mission
Friday, February 28, 2020: The European Space Agency’s Qarman cubesat deploys from the International Space Station on a mission to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to study the physics of its own fiery reentry. Officially titled the “QubeSat for Aerothermodynamic Research and Measurements on Ablation,” Qarman was ejected from the space station’s Nanoracks cubesat dispenser on Feb. 19.
“From there we think it will take about six months to reenter the atmosphere – to find out how accurately we can forecast Qarman’s orbital decay is part of the reason we’re flying the mission, relevant to the study of space debris,” Olivier Chazot, head of the Aeronautic/Aerospace Department of the Von Karman Institute in Belgium, said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Technicolor night sky
Thursday, February 27, 2020: The night sky above the Paranal Observatory in Chile is ablaze with vibrant airglow in this gorgeous view by astrophotographer Yuri Beletsky. This colorful phenomenon happens because atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere interact and emit radiation. For this reason, the sky is never completely dark. Airglow is only visible in places that are far enough from human-made light pollution, like the Paranal Observatory. This image was captured from the European Southern Observatory’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), and in the distance you can barely see the Very Large Telescope (VLT), which sits on top of Cerro Paranal. — Hanneke Weitering
Tropical cyclones in the land Down Under
Wednesday, February 26, 2020: Tropical cyclones Ferdinand and Esther swirl over Australia in this satellite image from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP weather satellite. This image combines data that Suomi NPP collected as it passed over Australia twice on Monday (Feb. 24). The diagonal line marks the edge of the swath between the two satellite passes, which occurred about 90 minutes apart. Esther made landfall near Queensland on Monday and has since been downgraded to a tropical depression. Ferdinand, seen here off the northwest coast of Australia, formed over the weekend and is now a Category 2 storm, but it is not expected to make landfall. — Hanneke Weitering
Orion spacecraft prepped for Artemis 1
Tuesday, February 25, 2020: NASA’s Orion spacecraft is lifted into a thermal cage ahead of its move to to the vacuum testing chamber at NASA’s Plum Brook testing station in Sandusky, Ohio. The spacecraft will fly on the Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed test flight that will launch on NASA’s new Space Launch System megarocket sometime in 2021. After that mission, NASA plans to use the Orion spacecraft to fly astronauts to the moon. — Hanneke Weitering
In Memoriam: Katherine Johnson
Monday, February 22, 2020: NASA mourned the loss of one of its science icons with the death of famed mathematician and “Hidden Figure” Katherine Johnson today at age 101. Johnson joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953 as a so-called human computer at the agency’s Langley, Virginia, office. There, she served in the West Area Computing section, an all-black unit in the segregated center, and stayed on in 1958 when NACA became NASA.
Johnson’s calculations as a human computer mapped the trajectory of astronaut Alan Shepard’s historic 1961 spaceflight, when he became the first American in space, as well as for John Glenn’s first orbital flight later that year. You can see our full remembrance here. — Tariq Malik
The Sombrero Galaxy
Friday, February 21, 2020: The Sombrero Galaxy may have a smooth “brim,” suggesting that its past was free of any galactic collisions, but new data from the Hubble Space Telescope has shown that this seemingly unscathed galaxy is hiding a violent past. According to NASA, the galaxy’s faint outer halo provides some forensic clues that suggest the galaxy underwent multiple collisions with other galaxies billions of years ago.
“These latest observations of the Sombrero are turning conventional theory on its head, showing only a tiny fraction of older, metal-poor stars in the halo, plus an unexpected abundance of metal-rich stars typically found only in a galaxy’s disk, and the central bulge,” Hubble officials said in a statement. “Past major galaxy mergers are a possible explanation, though the stately Sombrero shows none of the messy evidence of a recent merger of massive galaxies.” — Hanneke Weitering
Mars plays “peekaboo” with the moon
Thursday, February 20, 2020: Mars ducks behind the crescent moon’s lower limb in this photo from the lunar occultation on Tuesday (Feb. 18). Astrophotographer B.G. Boyd captured this view of the crescent moon as it began to slide in front of the Red Planet in the early morning sky over Tucson, Arizona, shortly before the occultation began at 4:38 a.m. local time. About an hour later, Mars reappeared from the moon’s dark limb. In this photo, the planet appears as a small orange speck that just barely touches bottom edge of the crescent moon. You can see more photos and a video of the occultation here. — Hanneke Weitering
Robot arm “waves” at the moon
Wednesday, February 19, 2020: The last quarter moon looms behind the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm in this photo by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. She and her Expedition 62 crewmate Andrew Morgan used Canadarm2 to grapple an arriving Cygnus cargo spacecraft on Tuesday (Feb. 18). “The mighty @csa_asc #Canadarm2 ready to grapple, as @AstroDrewMorgan & I practiced our maneuvers to capture #Cygnus that is headed our way, loaded with nearly 7,500 pounds of science, cargo, and @Space_Station supplies,” Meir tweeted on Saturday (Feb. 15). “Even the Moon made an appearance, awaiting #ARTEMIS eagerly,” she added, referring to NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024. — Hanneke Weitering
A spiral galaxy with “open arms”
Tuesday, February 18, 2020: The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 flaunts its shimmering galactic tentacles in this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Originally discovered in 1834 by the astronomer John Herschel, the galaxy resides about 425 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Pictor, the painter. NGC 2008 is classified as a type Sc galaxy, which means that it is a spiral with “a relatively small central bulge and more open spiral arms,” NASA said in a statement. “Spiral galaxies with larger central bulges tend to have more tightly wrapped arms, and are classified as Sa galaxies, while those in between are classified as type Sb.” — Hanneke Weitering
A cosmic valentine
Friday, February 14, 2020: Happy Valentine’s Day from space! The Heart Nebula, also known as IC 1805, shimmers in deep space in this photo by astrophotographer Miguel Claro. Located 7,500 light-years from Earth in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way galaxy, the Heart Nebula resides in the constellation Cassiopeia. At the cusp of the heart is a bright, fish-shaped knot called the Fishhead Nebula. For more romantic images from across the universe, check out our cosmic Valentine’s Day gallery. — Hanneke Weitering
Noctilucent clouds seen from space
Thursday, February 13, 2020: An astronaut at the International Space Station captured this image of noctilucent or “night-shining” clouds in Earth’s upper atmosphere. These clouds, which are made of tiny ice crystals, are only visible during astronomical twilight, when the sun just below the horizon, but the clouds are still illuminated by sunlight. Below the blue cloud layer, the lower part of the atmosphere glows with the signature reddish color of sunset. — Hanneke Weitering
The Eskimo Nebula
Wednesday, February 12, 2020: The planetary nebula NGC 2392, also known as the “Eskimo Nebula,” is the colorful remnant of a star that died about 4,200 light-years from Earth, leaving behind a brilliant orb of intricate layers and patterns. This star didn’t die in a supernova explosion, but rather burned up all of its fuel, causing it to cool, expand and shed its outer layers. This image combines data collected via NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope in 2013, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill recently reprocessed the image to bring out the nebula’s detailed structure. — Hanneke Weitering
Antares rocket under the Snow Moon
Tuesday, February 11, 2020: An Antares rocket topped with Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-13 cargo spacecraft stands ready for launch under the almost-super Full Snow Moon at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The cargo resupply mission was scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Sunday (Feb. 9), but NASA aborted the launch at the last minute due to off-nominal data from ground support equipment. It is now scheduled to launch to earlier than Thursday (Feb. 13) at 4:05 p.m. EST (2105 GMT). — Hanneke Weitering
Solar Orbiter launches to the sun
Monday, February 10, 2020: The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter lifts off on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on a historic mission to study the sun’s poles. The Atlas V rocket successfully launched Solar Orbiter from Space Launch Complex 41 last night at 11:03 p.m. EST (0403 GMT), and this timelapse photo shows its curved path into space. Over the course of the next 20 months, Solar Orbiter will perform a series of gravity-assist maneuvers, flying by Venus and Earth before venturing to the inner solar system, where it will study the sun up close, capturing unprecedented imagery of our star’s poles. — Hanneke Weitering
A fresh crater in Valles Marineris
Friday, February 7, 2020: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted a relatively fresh crater on the Red Planet using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. While lower-resolution images can help scientists identify craters on the Martian surface, high-resolution images like this one can help them determine the age of a crater. For example, radial features known as “rays,” which streak outward from the center of a crater, indicate that a crater is relatively young, because these features typically erode over time. A so-called “ejecta blanket” of dark basaltic rock, shown here in blue, creates a splash-like pattern closer to the site of the impact. NASA estimates that this crater, located in Valles Marineris, was created sometime between February and July of 2005. — Hanneke Weitering
Welcome home, Expedition 61!
Thursday, February 6, 2020: The Soyuz MS-13 crew capsule carrying three astronauts home from the International Space Station touches down on the snowy steppe of Kazakhstan in this aerial shot by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls. The capsule touched down today at 4:12 a.m. EST (0912 GMT or 3:12 p.m. local time), with NASA’s record-breaking astronaut Christina Koch, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. — Hanneke Weitering
Wednesday, February 5, 2020: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster sticks a vertical landing on the company’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean, following its successful launch of 60 Starlink satellites on Jan. 29. This was the third time that this reusable rocket booster has launched and landed and the 49th time that SpaceX has recovered a Falcon 9 booster. This launch brought the total number of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites up to 240, and the company already has permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch up to 12,000 of the internet satellites, though that number could swell to 30,000. — Hanneke Weitering
Cygnus on the move
Tuesday, February 4, 2020: A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft drifts away from the International Space Station after ground controllers used the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to send it off on Friday (Jan. 31). While most departing cargo vessels head straight back down to Earth to burn up in our planet’s atmosphere after completing their mission to the space station, this cargo craft, dubbed the S.S. Alan Bean, has one more mission to tackle before it meets its fiery demise. It will spend about a month in orbit to deploy a series of small satellites that will perform a variety of science experiments in space. — Hanneke Weitering
Venus and Jupiter meet in the Milky Way
Monday, February 3, 2020: The two brightest planets in the night sky, Venus and Jupiter, meet up for a conjunction in front of the Milky Way’s shimmering core in this view from the La Silla Observatory in Chile. European Southern Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Zdenek Bardon spent three nights trying to capture this image of the planetary encounter in late November, as clouds and humidity partially obstructed the view. Usually the La Silla Observatory has clear skies and low humidity due to its high elevation; it is located on a mountain in the Atacama Desert that is nearly 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level. While Bardon was perhaps unlucky for having to wait a few days for clear skies, this stunning photo was worth the wait! — Hanneke Weitering
Astronauts gather in the Cupola observatory
Friday, January 31, 2020: Three NASA astronauts peer through the windows of the International Space Station’s Cupola observatory in this view from one of the station’s external cameras. From left, Christina Koch, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan, all flight engineers for Expedition 61, prepare for the arrival of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-12 cargo freighter, which arrived at the orbiting lab on Nov. 4, 2019. That Cygnus spacecraft just departed the station this morning, beginning a monthlong secondary mission to deploy small experiments in orbit before it burns up in Earth’s atmosphere. — Hanneke Weitering
Starlink 3 launches from Florida
Thursday, January 30, 2020: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Wednesday (Jan. 29) to deliver 60 new Starlink satellites for its growing satellite internet constellation. The reusable rocket successfully launched and landed for a third time with this mission, called Starlink 3, and SpaceX managed to “catch” one half of the payload fairing with one of its net-wielding boats, known as “Ms. Tree.” — Hanneke Weitering
Spacewalking astronaut works on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
Wednesday, January 29, 2020: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan is pictured working outside the International Space Station to finish up repairs to an ailing dark matter experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer during a spacewalk on Jan. 25. He and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano spent 6 hours and 16 minutes working outside the orbiting lab in what was their fourth spacewalk together to repair the $2 billion experiment. — Hanneke Weitering
Green auroras meet orange airglow
Tuesday. January 28, 2020: A vibrant, lime-green aurora lights up Earth’s upper atmosphere in this photo captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station. When this photo was taken on Jan. 22, the station was orbiting 261 miles (420 kilometers) above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North America. Beneath the northern lights is a blanket of marmalade-colored airglow, a type of luminescence caused by ultraviolet light that triggers chemical reactions high in Earth’s atmosphere. Auroras, on the other hand, are created when charged particles from the sun ionize or excite particles in the atmosphere, and they only occur near our planet’s north and south poles. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble eyes a strange spiral galaxy
Monday, January 27, 2020: The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1022 flaunts its tendrils of dark, red dust in this new view from the Hubble Space Telescope. While most barred spiral galaxies have a distinct bar of stars at their centers, the bar inside NGC 1022 is a bit more difficult to make out. To spot the faint feature, look for the swirling arms emerging from both ends. Hubble captured this image of NGC 1022 as part of a study into black holes, which lie at the center of most (if not all) spiral galaxies like this one. — Hanneke Weitering
A volcano eruption’s ashy aftermath
Friday, January 24, 2020: A new satellite view of the Taal volcano that erupted in the Philippines on Jan. 12 reveals an island that is now completely covered in a thick blanket of ash. The eruption on Luzon island blasted ash plumes 9 miles (14 kilometers) into the air, and strong winds blew large amounts of ash to neighboring regions, especially the Agoncillo area, visible southwest of the Taal volcano. The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission acquired this view of the area on Thursday (Jan. 23). — Hanneke Weitering
Light trails at the International Space Station
Thursday, January 23, 2020: Light trails streak across the Earth as star trails circle overhead in this stunning long-exposure photo taken by NASA astronaut Christina Koch at the International Space Station. At the top of the frame are the space station’s solar arrays. Down below, flashes of lightning are scattered across the Earth’s surface, while orange airglow illuminates the atmosphere. — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon launches on critical abort test
Wednesday, January 22, 2020: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for an uncrewed in-flight abort test of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission, which launched on Sunday (Jan. 19), performed a crucial test of the capsule’s emergency abort system that would carry astronauts to safety in the event of a problem during launch. The Crew Dragon successfully separated from the Falcon 9 rocket (which was destroyed during the test) mid-flight, and it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean about 9 minutes after liftoff. — Hanneke Weitering
A stellar nursery shines in Vela
Tuesday, January 21, 2020: Colorful stars sparkle across a sea of cosmic dust and gas in this new view of Gum 26, a star-forming region in the Milky Way galaxy. Located 20,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Vela, the sails, Gum 26 is a hydrogen-rich emission nebula, also known as an H II region, where collapsing clumps of dust and gas are actively forming new stars. This new image of the stellar nursery was captured by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. — Hanneke Weitering
1st Arianespace launch of 2020
Friday, January 17, 2020: An Ariane 5 rocket rises between the silhouettes of two palm trees as it lifts off into the cloud-covered evening sky in Kourou, French Guiana, in this photo from Arianespace’s first launch of the year. The rocket launched two communications satellites for Eutelsat and the Indian Space Research Organisation into orbit yesterday (Jan. 16) after lifting off from the Guiana Space Center at 6:05 p.m. local time (4:05 p.m. EST or 2105 GMT). — Hanneke Weitering
SLS under the Full Wolf Moon
Thursday, January 16, 2020: January’s Full Wolf Moon rises behind NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in this photo by NASA photographer Ben Smegelsky. To the right of the Vehicle Assembly Building is the mobile launcher that NASA will use to launch its new Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew spacecraft, which the agency plans to use to send astronauts back to the moon in 2024. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way shines over Residencia
Wednesday, January 15, 2020: The arc of the Milky Way galaxy forms a glowing dome above the European Southern Observatory’s Residencia, a hotel for astronomers that was featured in the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace.” Residencia is located on top of Cerro Paranal, a mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert that is home to the Paranal Observatory. Also featured in this photo are two neighboring galaxies known as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, seen just below the Milky Way’s glittering arc. — Hanneke Weitering
A Martian winter wonderland
Tuesday, January 14, 2020: Earth isn’t the only planet with a frosty north pole. This image of the north pole on Mars, captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, shows part of the planet’s polar ice cap rippled with dark-red troughs and depressions, which indicate that strong winds have been blowing in the area. Although it does not snow on Mars, storm clouds can kick dust up into the atmosphere, causing erosion that changes the appearance of the landscape over time. — Hanneke Weitering
Full Wolf Moon rising
Monday, January 13, 2020: The Full Wolf Moon rises above the frosty mountains of Macedonia in this photo taken by Stojan Stojanovski on Friday (Jan. 10). Stojanovski captured this view of the rising moon near the town of Kuratica, shortly before a penumbral lunar eclipse cast a subtle shadow on the moon’s face. (See photos of the lunar eclipse in this Space.com gallery.) — Hanneke Weitering
Australia’s wildfires seen from space
Friday, January 10, 2020: Thick clouds of brown smoke from Australia’s bushfires spread across the Tasman Sea in this photo captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station. The photo was taken on Jan. 4, when the station was orbiting 269 miles (433 kilometers) above the Tasman Sea. — Hanneke Weitering
The Swan Nebula
Thursday, January 9, 2020: The Swan Nebula, one of the biggest and brightest star forming regions in the Milky Way galaxy, only recently formed into the bird-shaped cloud we see today, new images have revealed. This composite image of the Swan Nebula combines data from NASA’s flying telescope SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Telescope. In this image, astronomers discovered nine new protostars, or areas where dust and gas are collapsing to form new stars, and they were able to determine the ages of different features within the nebula.
“The central region is the oldest, most evolved and likely formed first,” NASA officials said in a statement. “Next, the northern area formed, while the southern region is the youngest. Even though the northern area is older than the southern region, the radiation and stellar winds from previous generations of stars has disturbed the material there, preventing it from collapsing to form the next generation.” — Hanneke Weitering
Starlink satellites head to space
Wednesday, January 8, 2020: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars into space with 60 of the company’s Starlink internet satellites in this long-exposure photo of the launch on Monday (Jan. 6). The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:19 p.m. EST (0219 GMT Tuesday) before returning to Earth for a drone-ship landing, marking the fourth time that this particular booster has flown. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble eyes a gigantic galaxy
Tuesday, January 7, 2020: This new image from the Hubble Space Telescope features the enormous spiral galaxy UGC 2885, which may be the largest known galaxy in the local universe. Located 232 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Perseus, UGC 2885 is about 2.5 times the width of the Milky Way and contains 10 times the number of stars. However, it’s a relatively quiet galaxy, with new stars forming at only half the rate of new stars in the Milky Way. — Hanneke Weitering
Meteors and auroras seen from space
Monday, January 6, 2020: As the annual Quadrantid meteor shower rained “shooting stars” over Earth this weekend, NASA astronaut Christina Koch captured this view of several meteors blazing through the atmosphere beneath the International Space Station. Meanwhile, brilliant lime-green auroras light up the sky in the distance, together with a soft orange airglow. — Hanneke Weitering
A burst of color in Chile’s night sky
Friday, January 3, 2020: Green and yellow airglow topped with the shimmering core of the Milky Way galaxy provide a beautiful backdrop for a telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile in this image by European Southern Observatory (ESO) astrophotographer Yuri Beletsky. The telescope pictured here is one of four small auxiliary telescopes for ESO’s Very Large Telescope array. — Hanneke Weitering
Stars and airglow over Iran
Thursday, January 2, 2020: A vivid, green airglow blankets Earth’s upper atmosphere under the starry night sky in this view from the International Space Station. An astronaut on board captured this image on Dec. 29, when the station was orbiting about 260 miles (420 kilometers) above northern Iran, as the orbiting laboratory was about to pass over the Caspian Sea. — Hanneke Weitering
A galaxy in Berenice’s Hair
Wednesday, January 1, 2020: The Hubble Space Telescope captured this stunning view of the spiral galaxy NGC 4455 in the constellation Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s Hair, using its Advanced Camera for Surveys. The image was released Dec. 30. The galaxy is 45 million light-years away and its home constellation is the only star pattern to be named after an actual person from history: Queen Berenice II of Egypt.
According to ESA, Berenice was a queen of the ancient Greek city Cyrene (in what is now modern-day Libya) and later ruled Egypt after marrying its ruler, her cousin Ptolemy III Euergetes. She famously offered locks of her hair to the gods for Ptolemy’s safe return from battle. — Tariq Malik
Swirls of Jupiter
Tuesday, December 31, 2019: A swirling band of clouds churns on Jupiter in this amazing image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft currently orbiting the largest planet in our solar system. This image is an enhanced view by citizen scientist Björn Jónsson, who processed an image taken on Nov. 3 by Juno’s JunoCam as the spacecraft was 3,200 miles (5,200 km) above Jupiter’s cloudtops.
Small “pop-up” storms are visible rising above the lighter areas in the clouds. They’re most noticeable at the right, according to a NASA description. — Tariq Malik
A colorful sky
Monday, December 30, 2019: The skies above the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert are ablaze with color in this dazzling photo by photographer Yuri Beletsky released by ESO Dec. 30. In the foreground is one of ESO’s Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs), which are used to make up the Very Large Telescope (VLT), bathed in an eerie yellow-green glow while the Milky Way glitters overhead. — Tariq Malik
A Stellar Snowflake
Friday, December 27, 2019: This view from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows a cosmic snowflake, an intricate structure that forms part of the so-called Christmas Tree Cluster. “The newly revealed infant stars appear as pink and red specks toward the center and appear to have formed in regularly spaced intervals along linear structures in a configuration that resembles the spokes of a wheel or the pattern of a snowflake. Hence, astronomers have nicknamed this the ‘Snowflake Cluster,’ NASA officials explained in an image description. The Spitzer Space Telescope is an infrared space observatory. — Tariq Malik
A Christmas Eve Launch
Thursday, December 26, 2019: A dazzling view of the first stage engines of a Russian Proton rocket firing to launch the Electro-L 3 weather satellite into orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on Dec. 24, 2019. You can see a video of the Christmas Eve launch here, along with a mission overview. — Tariq Malik
Wednesday, December 25, 2019: The Earth is a snowy winter wonderland in this stunning photo from European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on the International Space Station. Parmitano snapped this photo on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) posting it on Twitter with a holiday message for all.
“Winter landscapes: The moon rises over a snow covered world,” he wrote. Parmitano commands the space station’s Expedition 61 crew. You can see their Christmas and holiday video message from space here! — Tariq Malik
Hubble Spots a Galactic Bulge
Tuesday, December 24, 2019: The spiral galaxy IC 2051, seen here in an image from the Hubble Space Telescope, is shaped like a flying saucer, with a bulge of stars at the center of its flat disk. This type of galactic bulge is believed to influence the growth of supermassive black holes that lurk at the center of most spiral galaxies, and they play a key role in how galaxies evolve. — Hanneke Weitering
Monday, December 23, 2019: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner ejects its heat shield while parachuting down to Earth before its historic landing on Sunday (Dec. 22). The uncrewed capsule touched down safely at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, at 7:58 a.m. EST (1258 GMT), after spending only about 48 hours in space. It was originally scheduled to touch down six days later after a visit to the International Space Station, but Starliner never reached the orbiting laboratory after an anomaly during the launch left it in the wrong orbit. — Hanneke Weitering
Starliner Launches to Space
Friday, December 20, 2019: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft soars into space after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this morning. Down below (from left to right), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine observe from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The flight went according to plan until about 15 minutes after liftoff, when Starliner could not complete its orbit insertion burn due to an anomaly. Starliner was supposed to dock with the International Space Station on Saturday (Dec. 21), but it will now make an early landing on Sunday (Dec. 22) without having reached the space station. — Hanneke Weitering
A ‘Candy Cane’ in the Milky Way
Thursday, December 19, 2019: NASA scientists have spotted what looks like a candy cane-shaped cloud of glowing gas near the center of the Milky Way. The “candy cane” is about 190 light-years long and contains ionized gas that emits radio waves. Astronomers discovered it using an instrument known as the Goddard-IRAM Superconducting 2-Millimeter Observer, or GISMO, together with a radio telescope on Pico Veleta in Spain. You can see the full, annotated version of this image here. — Hanneke Weitering
CHEOPS Launches on Exoplanet Mission
Wednesday, December 18, 2019: An Arianespace Soyuz rocket lifts off from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, carrying the European Space Agency’s newest exoplanet-hunting satellite. The Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) mission, which launched this morning at 3:54 a.m. EST (5:54 a.m. local time; 0854 GMT) will study alien worlds to learn more about their characteristics and to determine which, if any, may be hospitable to extraterrestrial life. — Hanneke Weitering
Psychedelic Swirls on Jupiter
Tuesday, December 17, 2019: Jupiter goes psychedelic in this new, full-disk image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientist Prateek Sarpal created this view of Jupiter using data that the orbiter’s JunoCam instrument collected during its 22nd perijove, or close approach, on Sept. 12. Sarpal named this creation, “A mind of limits, a camera of thoughts.” You can find more funky Jupiter art and raw images from Juno that are free to download and edit in NASA’s JunoCam portal. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Spots Interstellar Comet Borisov
Monday, December 16, 2019: The interstellar comet Borisov appears to come face-to-face with a distant spiral galaxy in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble captured this image on Dec. 12, as the interstellar comet was racing through the inner solar system. At the time, the object was about 260 million miles (420 million kilometers) from Earth, while the unnamed background galaxy (officially designated 2MASX J10500165-0152029), is nearly half a billion light-years away. The galaxy appears smudged because Hubble was tracking the motion of the comet, which was zooming through space at a speed of about 109,000 mph (175,000 km/h). — Hanneke Weitering
Algae Blooms Seen from Space
Friday, December 13, 2019: Green algae blooms swirl across the Baltic Sea in this image from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite. The green color comes from chlorophyll in the phytoplankton, or microscopic plants that drift at the surface of the water. The chlorophyll makes these algae blooms visible from space, allowing satellites to track the tiny organisms. — Hanneke Weitering
‘Cloudy with a Chance of Dust’
Thursday, December 12, 2019: Thick clouds of interstellar dust and gas permeate the star forming region RCW 36, also known as Gum 20, in this deep-space image from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Located about 2,300 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Vela (the sails), RCW 36 is part of a much larger star formation complex, known as the Vela Molecular Ridge. Astronomers used an instrument on VLT called the Focal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph (FORS) to capture this image of RCW 36, which is in some parts so thick with dust and gas that background light cannot pass through. These dark regions are the richest with star formation. — Hanneke Weitering
Dragon Approaches the Space Station
Wednesday, December 11, 2019: As SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-19 cargo resupply ship approached the International Space Station, astronauts used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the incoming spacecraft. The Dragon, which docked with the station on Sunday (Dec. 8), carried more than 5,700 lbs. (2,585 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments for the crew of Expedition 61. — Hanneke Weitering
A Swirling Galaxy
Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Scientists used images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 to piece together this portrait of a galaxy called NGC 3175. The galaxy has given its clunky name to a cluster of neighbors that astronomers consider quite similar to our own galaxy clique, the Local Group. But NGC 3175 and its companions are located about 50 million light-years away from us. — Meghan Bartels
A Triumphant Return
Monday, December 9, 2019: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster makes a triumphant return to Port Canaveral, Florida on Dec. 7, 2019, two days after launching a Dragon cargo ship for NASA on the CRS-19 mission. This Falcon 9 rocket made its first flight on the CRS-19 mission. It launched from Space Launch Complex-40 on Dec. 5, then returned to Earth to a pinpoint landing on the SpaceX drone ship Of Course I Still Love You. The Dragon capsule on the mission made its third trip to space. It arrived at the station on Sunday, Dec. 8. — Tariq Malik
A Cosmic Reflection
Friday, December 6, 2019: A meteor blazes across the Milky Way galaxy in this colorful view from the La Silla Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, captured by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Babak Tafreshi. The starry night sky and orange airglow near the horizon are reflected in the dish of the Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope. — Hanneke Weitering
Australia’s Wildfires Continue to Rage
Thursday, December 5, 2019: Wildfires have been raging across the southern and eastern states of Australia since October, and new imagery from the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP weather satellite show plumes of smoke billowing from multiple fires near the coast of New South Wales. Another Suomi-NPP image captured in November show smoke from Australia’s wildfires being swept across the South Atlantic Ocean, and that smoke has since spread to halfway around the world, NASA officials said in a statement. The satellite acquired this image on Wednesday (Dec. 4) at 2:45 p.m. local time, when there were 116 actively burning bush and grass fires in New South Wales alone. — Hanneke Weitering
Spacewalker Passes Over Venezuela
Wednesday, December 4, 2019: European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano passes over the Paraguaná Peninsula of Venezuela while working outside the International Space Station on Monday (Dec. 2). This was the third spacewalk that Parmitano conducted together with NASA astronaut Drew Morgan. The spacewalking duo have been working to repair a particle detector experiment outside the station known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way’s Galactic Neighbor Shines Over La Silla
Tuesday, December 3, 2019: The Milky Way galaxy and one of its cosmic neighbors shimmer over the La Silla Observatory in Chile in this night sky photo by European Southern Observatory photographer Petr Horálek. That galactic neighbor is a dwarf galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, and directly beneath it is the 7-foot (2.2 meters) MPG-ESO telescope, which scans the cosmos for high-energy gamma ray bursts, or the most powerful explosions in the universe. The smaller telescope on the left is the 3-foot (1 meter) Schmidt telescope, which has been studying galaxies, star clusters, dwarf planets and supernovas for nearly 50 years. — Hanneke Weitering
Martian North Pole
Monday, December 2, 2019: Spiral troughs of ice and dust swirl around the Red Planet’s polar ice cap in this image of the planet’s north pole. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill created this map using images from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. Along with the swirling ice pattern, which scientists believe was created by winds, the image features a deep canyon known as Chasma Boreale that cuts straight through the ice cap. — Hanneke Weitering
Two Galactic Neighbors
Friday, November 29, 2019: While it’s common for galaxies to coexist peacefully in the same cosmic neighborhood, these two galaxies are a bit too close for comfort. The galaxies NGC 6286 (right) and NGC 6285 (left), collectively known as Arp 293, are tugging at each other with their mutually strong gravitational attraction, dragging wisps of gas and dust out from the galaxies and into interstellar space. This causes the galaxies to appear “smudged” and blurred from our perspective on Earth. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the galactic pair, which are located more than over 250 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. — Hanneke Weitering
Spacewalker Floats Above the Clouds
Wednesday, November 27, 2019: With his special space camera in hand, NASA astronaut Drew Morgan is seen working outside the International Space Station during his spacewalk with European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on Nov. 22. This was their second spacewalk together in which they worked to repair an ailing dark matter experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. The spacewalking duo will head out again for their third spacewalk together on Dec. 2. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Eyes an Emission Galaxy
Tuesday, November 26, 2019: Looming some 135 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus is the bright emission line galaxy NGC 3749, seen here in an image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomers can learn a lot about a galaxy by studying its spectrum of light, particularly the wavelengths of light that are emitted or absorbed by elements it contains. NGC 3749 displays strong emission lines, which means that it is “bursting with star formation and energetic stellar newborns,” the European Space Agency said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Orion Enters the Super Guppy
Monday, November 25, 2019: NASA’s Orion spacecraft is loaded inside the belly of the Super Guppy aircraft at the Launch and Landing Facility runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Nov. 21. The spacecraft, which will fly on the first Artemis mission, was transported to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, for testing. — Hanneke Weitering
Luca Parmitano ‘Rides’ Canadarm2
Friday, November 22, 2019: European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano “stands” on the end of the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm during the first of four spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment together with NASA astronaut Drew Morgan, on Nov. 15. The spacewalking duo is at it again today; they set out this morning at 7:02 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) for the second spacewalk, which is expected to last about 6.5 hours. You can watch it live here on Space.com. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Spots a Strange Spiral Galaxy
Thursday, November 21, 2019: The spiral galaxy NGC 772, seen here in a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, bears some striking similarities to the Milky Way galaxy that we call home, with its spiral arms, glowing core and dark dust lanes. But there are some key differences between NGC 772 and the Milky Way.
For one, NGC 772 lacks the kind of bar-shaped structure of stars like the one that stretches across the center of the Milky Way. NGC 772 is classified as a peculiar, unbarred spiral galaxy, which means that it is “somewhat odd in size, shape or composition,” according to NASA. Located about 130 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aries, NGC 772 is about twice the size of the Milky Way. — Hanneke Weitering
Bye Bye, Debris Shield!
Wednesday, November 20, 2019: The debris shield that once protected NASA’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer from micrometeoroid impacts floats away from the International Space Station after two astronauts removed it and flung it into space during a spacewalk on Nov. 15. European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano used special tools to remove 13 screws and 10 fasteners to release the debris shield, after which NASA astronaut Drew Morgan jettisoned the shield, tossing it toward Earth to burn up in the atmosphere. This was the first of four spacewalks that these two astronauts are conducting to repair the ailing particle detector experiment, which was not designed to be serviced by astronauts in orbit, making these some of the most challenging spacewalks ever. — Hanneke Weitering
A Vista Under the Milky Way
Tuesday, November 19, 2019: The Milky Way glistens above the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile in this stunning night-sky view by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Babak Tafreshi. Located on a rocky mountaintop in the Atacama Desert, VISTA is the world’s largest telescope built to survey the sky in near-infrared light. While its surroundings are barren, VISTA’s altitude and surroundings are ideal for astronomy, with almost no cloud cover or light pollution to soil the view. — Hanneke Weitering
Space Station Selfie
Monday, November 18, 2019: A view of nearly the entire International Space Station reflects off the helmet visor of European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano in this “space selfie” he took while on a spacewalk last Friday (Nov. 15). He and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan spent 6 hours and 39 minutes working on the complicated repair of an ailing particle detector experiment known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). The duo will embark on the second of four spacewalks on Friday, Nov. 22, when they will continue working on AMS. — Hanneke Weitering
Related: The Best Astronaut Selfies in Space
Lunar Halo Over La Silla
Friday, November 15, 2019: A lunar “halo” lights up the night sky above the 3.6-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. This phenomenon happens when the moon is at an altitude of about 22 degrees above the horizon, where light refracts through icy cirrus clouds. “Light rays that do this tend to ‘bunch up’ at the angle that represents the least amount of deviation from their original path. For the particular shape of ice crystal lurking within the cirrus clouds, this minimum deviation angle happens to be around 22 degrees,” ESO officials said in a description. — Hanneke Weitering
Apollo 12: A Happy Moon Return
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019: Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad (front) Richard Gordon (left) and Alan Bean (center top in background) walk out to the Astrovan for the trip to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of their Nov. 14, 1969 launch. The launch of Apollo 12, 50 years ago today, kicked off NASA’s second crewed moon landing mission, and the first pinpoint lunar landing. Conrad, the mission’s commander, and Bean as lunar module pilot landed their Intrepid lander within a short moonwalk of NASA’s Surveyor 3 spacecraft. — Tariq Malik
Related: Celebrate NASA’s Apollo 12 50th Anniversary with These Webcasts More: Apollo 12: How a Passionate Scientist’s Keen Eye Led to the First Pinpoint Moon Landing 50 Years Ago
Wednesday, November 13, 2019: Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft departed from the asteroid Ryugu last night to begin its journey back to Earth. This is one of the photos Hayabusa2 took of Ryugu shortly after its departure. The spacecraft will continue to do “farewell observations” of the asteroid as it drifts farther away in space. It will arrive back on Earth at the end of next year with samples from the asteroid’s surface. You can see the latest images from Hayabusa2 here. — Hanneke Weitering
Tiny Mercury Transits the Sun
Tuesday, November 12, 2019: Can you spot the teeny-tiny planet Mercury in this photo of the sun? The European Space Agency’s Proba-2 satellite captured this image of Mercury’s transit yesterday at 10:43 a.m. EST (1543 GMT), about half an hour after Mercury passed the halfway point in its 5.5-hour journey across the sun’s disk. The planet appears as a black dot just above and to the right of the sun’s center. Still struggling to see it? You can find more photos of the rare Mercury transit in this gallery. — Hanneke Weitering
Mercury’s Transit Begins
Monday, November 11, 2019: The tiny planet Mercury scoots across the sun’s hot corona and onto its bright disk to mark the beginning of the planet’s rare transit this morning. The transit began at 7:35 a.m. EST (1235 GMT), when Mercury made its way across the sun’s edge. It will spend 5 hours and 28 minutes traveling across the face of the sun today, and you can watch it live online. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Spots a Cosmic Kaleidoscope
Friday, November 8, 2019: When the Hubble Space Telescope turned its gaze toward the remote galaxy known as the “Sunburst Arc,” it saw not one but 12 separate images of the lone cosmic object. That’s because there’s a massive galaxy cluster in the foreground warping the light with its intense gravitational pull. This illusion is known as gravitational lensing, a phenomenon that Albert Einstein first described in his theory of general relativity. “This ‘funhouse mirror’ effect not only stretches the background galaxy image, but also creates multiple images of the same galaxy,” NASA officials said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
A Jovian Marble
Thursday, November 7, 2019: Jupiter looks like a big, swirly space marble in this composite image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed this image using data collected by Juno during its 23rd close flyby of Jupiter, called a perijove, on Sunday (Nov. 3). — Hanneke Weitering
S.S. Alan Bean Arrives at the Space Station
Wednesday, November 6, 2019: The International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm grapples an incoming Cygnus cargo spacecraft in this photo taken by an Expedition 61 astronaut. The Cygnus spacecraft, named the S.S. Alan Bean, arrived at the orbiting laboratory on Monday (Nov. 4) carrying about 8,200 lbs. (3,700 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments for the six-person crew. — Hanneke Weitering
A Glimpse of the Cosmos
Tuesday, November 5, 2019: The Milky Way galaxy peeks through the opening of the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in this image captured from inside the observatory by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Babak Tafreshi. Located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, VST is the largest telescope on Earth that observes the sky in visible light, or wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that are visible to the human eye. Pictured front and center in this view is the OmegaCAM instrument, which can capture wide-field images of up to 256 million pixels. — Hanneke Weitering
Starliner Aces Pad Abort Test
Monday, November 4, 2019: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule floats back down to Earth above the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico following a successful pad abort test this morning. Today’s mission was an uncrewed test of the spacecraft’s abort system, which would bring astronauts to safety in the event of an anomaly during launch. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Eyes a ‘Lonely’ Galaxy
Friday, November 1, 2019: The spiral galaxy NGC 1706 may look a bit isolated drifting through the cosmos in this Hubble Space Telescope image, but this lonely galaxy has no shortage of neighbors. NGC 1706 belongs to a group of dozens of galaxies, all of which are held together by their mutual gravitational pull. It is located about 230 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Dorado, the Swordfish. — Hanneke Weitering
Ghost Nebula Wishes You a Happy Halloween!
Thursday, October 31, 2019: Happy Halloween from space! This ghoulish space cloud is known as the “Ghost of Cassiopeia.” The nebula lurks some 550 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia, where powerful radiation from a nearby star is slowly causing its clouds to dissipate. Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to captured this image, which was released last year just before Halloween. (This year, Hubble scientists released another special Halloween image of a more creepy-looking space ghost.) — Hanneke Weitering
Antares Rocket Preparing for Launch
Wednesday, October 30, 2019: The Antares rocket that will launch the next cargo shipment to the International Space Station this weekend is pictured shortly after its arrival at the launch pad on Tuesday (Oct. 29). Topped with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the rocket will lift off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Saturday, Nov. 2, with about 8,200 lbs. (3,700 kg) of supplies and science experiments for the Expedition 61 crew. — Hanneke Weitering
Moonrise at Sunrise
Tuesday, October 29, 2019: A tiny sliver of the crescent moons gleams above Earth’s blue horizon just before sunrise in this stunning view from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch shared this image from space on Monday (Oct. 28), one day after the moon reached its new phase. — Hanneke Weitering
InSight’s ‘Mole’ Hits Another Snag
Monday, October 29, 2019: New images from NASA’s InSight Mars lander released over the weekend show the spacecraft’s heat probe, an instrument known as the “mole,” has hit a snag while attempting to burrow into the Martian soil. The mole, which is attempting to probe a target depth of 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) into the ground, recently received a helping hand from a scoop on InSight’s arm after it got stuck in the dirt, and that operation helped get the mole moving. However, the new images from InSight’s instrument deployment camera show the heat probe appears to have jumped out of the hole and is now leaning to the side. NASA plans to provide an update on the mole’s situation sometime today. — Hanneke Weitering
Curiosity Rover Snaps a Selfie
Friday, October 25, 2019: NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars for the last 7 years, took a new selfie on the Red Planet this month. The image is a panorama combining 57 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), a camera on the end of the rover’s robotic arm, and the rover’s arm isn’t visible in all of the frame that make up the composite. When Curiosity made this selfie on Oct. 11, it was exploring an area called “Glen Ative” inside Gale Crater, where it recently drilled two holes that are visible on the left. — Hanneke Weitering
Star Trails and Lightning Over Earth
Thursday, October 24, 2019: In this photo from the International Space Station, star trails circle above the Earth while bright lightning flashes and city lights illuminate the planet’s surface and skies. The image is a composite that combines more than 400 photos captured by NASA astronaut Christina Koch over the span of 11 minutes, when the space station was traveling from Namibia toward the Red Sea. — Hanneke Weitering
Paranal Observatory by Moonlight
Wednesday, October 23, 2019: A full moon glows over the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile in this view captured by astrophotographer Gerard Hüdepohl. The observatory is located on top of Cerro Paranal, a mountain with an elevation of 8,500 feet (2,600 meters), and it is home to several telescope facilities. The Very Large Telescope (VLT) array and the VLT Survey Telescope are both visible at the top of the peak in this photo, on the left, and four smaller auxiliary telescopes are on the smaller peak to the right. — Hanneke Weitering
Tuesday, October 22, 2019: NASA astronaut Jessica Meir pauses to take a selfie during her historic first all-woman spacewalk together with Christina Koch on Oct. 18. In the reflection on her spacesuit visor, you can see parts of the International Space Station’s exterior and planet Earth. — Hanneke Weitering
Related: The Best Astronaut Selfies in Space
A Jovian Jet Stream
Monday, October 21, 2019: A new view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft shows a swirling jet stream in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere. This dark belt of swirling clouds is known as “Jet N4,” and Juno captured this close-up image of the feature during a flyby on Sept. 11, when the spacecraft was about 7,540 miles (12,140 kilometers) from the planet’s cloud tops. Citizen scientist Björn Jónsson created this enhanced image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way Over ALMA
Friday, October 18, 2019: The Milky Way glistens above four antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a telescope array in northern Chile. The antennas, which are located at ALMA’s Array Operations Site near on Chajnantor plateau, are at an altitude of about 16,400 feet (5,000 meters), and the facility is one of the highest human-made structures in the world. — Hanneke Weitering
Astronaut’s View of the First Quarter Moon
Thursday, October 17, 2019: The first-quarter moon rises over Earth’s thin, blue atmosphere in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. One of the six Expedition 61 crewmembers on board captured this view on Oct. 5, when the moon was waxing. It became full on Sunday (Oct. 13), and the moon will once again be half illuminated on Monday (Oct. 21) when it reaches its third quarter phase. — Hanneke Weitering
Asteroid Zips Across the Crab Nebula
Wednesday, October 16, 2019: While capturing an image of the Crab Nebula, the Hubble Space Telescope inadvertently also caught a view of an asteroid in our solar system passing through the foreground. The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant located approximately 6,300 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus, the Bull. An asteroid, designated 2001 SE101, can be seen streaking across the frame from the bottom left toward the top right of the image. Citizen scientist Melina Thévenot from Germany discovered the asteroid photobomb in this 2005 Hubble image as part of the European Space Agency’s “Hubble Asteroid Hunter” citizen science project. — Hanneke Weitering
A Feathered ‘Photobomber’ at La Silla
Tuesday, October 15, 2019: A mysterious bird and its seemingly huge talons photobomb an all-sky camera’s view of the cosmos in this lucky shot from the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The all-sky camera constantly streams live views of the Danish 1.54-meter telescope, allowing online spectators to see the telescope in action, observe the Milky Way — and occasionally catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. Officials with the European Southern Observatory, which operates the telescope facility, have not yet been able to identify the species of the bird that perched on this all-sky camera, but they suspect it was a nocturnal bird of prey. — Hanneke Weitering
A Dusty Spiral
Tuesday, October 8, 2019: This photo from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the spiral galaxy NGC 3717, a dusty swirl of stars about 60 million light-years away. The galaxy is located in the direction of the constellation Hydra, the Sea Serpent, and is tilted in this view so that Hubble gets a sense of its spiral shape, but not an edge-on view. — Tariq Malik
Monday, October 7, 2019: Now here’s an office with the ultimate view. NASA astronaut Drew Morgan poses for a photo during a spacewalk on Sunday, Oct. 6, to kick off an epic 10-spacewalk marathon to swap out old batteries on the station’s solar array grid with new ones.
Morgan wasn’t alone on the spacewalk. NASA astronaut Christina Koch ventured outside with Morgan as the EVA (extravehicular activity) lead. She wore a red-striped spacesuit and actually took this picture! (You can see Koch taking the photo in the reflection of Morgan’s visor).
Read our full story here for a wrap up of the spacewalk. The next EVA in the series is on Friday, Oct. 11. — Tariq Malik
Friday, October 4, 2019: Three space station crewmembers, including the first Emirati astronaut, parachute back down to Earth in their Soyuz spacecraft in this aerial view by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, who joined the search and recovery teams in a helicopter. On board the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft were NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and first-time astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates. They touched down in Kazakhstan on Thursday (Oct. 3) at 6:59 a.m. EDT (1059 GMT or 4:59 p.m. local time). — Hanneke Weitering
Enceladus in Saturn’s E Ring
Thursday, October 3, 2019: Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is pictured with the planet’s faint E ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The E ring is one of Saturn’s outermost rings, and scientists believe that it is made up of icy water droplets that have been spewing from the geysers and plumes on Enceladus. Cassini captured the data for this image on March 15, 2017, precisely six months before its mission ended with an epic plunge into Saturn. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill recently processed this image using red, green and blue filtered images from Cassini’s narrow-angle camera. — Hanneke Weitering
Cosmic ‘Bubbles’ Bursting With Stars
Wednesday, October 2, 2019: In a new image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, giant “bubbles” of dust and gas are bursting with new star formation. According to NASA, each of these bubbles contains hundreds of thousands of stars. These cosmic bubbles get their shape from stellar winds radiation emitted from massive young stars, which can push the cloud’s material outward, causing it to “inflate,” or expand.
Citizen scientists helped NASA map out these bubbles as part of The Milky Way Project, which is mapping star formation throughout the Milky Way galaxy. You can find an annotated version of this image that points out all the different bubbles here. — Hanneke Weitering
A Cosmic Jellyfish Swims in Deep Space
Tuesday, October 1, 2019: A spiral galaxy with gassy “tentacles” swims through the constellation Triangulum Australe in this new image from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The galaxy, named ESO 137-001, is being stripped of hot gas as it moves through space, where clouds of intergalactic gas tug the material away from the galaxy through a process called ram-pressure stripping. This creates a long trail behind the galaxy that stretches across 260,000 light-years. — Hanneke Weitering
Extremely Large Telescope Under Construction
Monday, September 30, 2019: In the remote Chilean Atacama Desert, the European Southern Observatory is laying the foundation for what will soon be the largest ground-based telescope in the world. Named the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will have a primary mirror that measures 129 feet (39.3 meters) in diameter, a 14-foot (4.2 m) secondary mirror and a 12-foot (3.75 m). Workers are currently building the foundation for the enormous observatory, which will have a dome-shaped enclosure measuring 243 feet (74 m) tall. — Hanneke Weitering
A Galactic “Smudge”
Friday, September 27, 2019: What may look like a big, bright smudge in this Hubble Space Telescope image is the dwarf galaxy Messier 110. Located in the Andromeda constellation, it is a satellite of the spiral-shaped Andromeda galaxy. Messier 110 doesn’t have that same spiral structure, but rather is a smooth and featureless structure. But Messier 110 is not the only strange blob in this image; near the center of the frame is a dark splotch, which is a cloud of interstellar dust and gas. Another one of these dark clouds appears just above the bright core of Messier 110. — Hanneke Weitering
Giant Dust Storm Blows Over Africa
Thursday, September 26, 2019: The Suomi NPP weather satellite captured this view of an enormous dust storm in southern Africa yesterday. Coastal towns watched as the sky turned red from the thick plumes of dust and sand that rose into the air, and strong winds pushed those winds offshore into the Atlantic Ocean.
Suomi NPP, which is operated jointly by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), watched the dust storm in action when it flew over the scene at 2:25 p.m. local time (1225 GMT). Areas affected by the storm were located north and south of the Orange River, which forms part of the border between Namibia and South Africa, NASA officials said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Crewed Soyuz Spotted from Space
Wednesday, September 24, 2019: A Soyuz spacecraft carrying three Expedition 61 crewmembers approaches the International Space Station in this incredible shot by NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who captured this view from a window of the orbiting laboratory. The crew lifted off on a Russian Soyuz rocket this morning and are expected to arrive at the space station at at 3:45 p.m. EDT (2045 GMT). — Hanneke Weitering
Soyuz Rocket Prepped for Launch
Tuesday, September 24, 2019: The arms of a mobile gantry close around the Soyuz rocket that will launch three Expedition 61 crewmembers to the International Space Station, shortly after the rocket was erected on the pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On Wednesday (Sept. 25), this rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and Hazza Ali Almansouri, the first astronaut of the United Arab Emirates. — Hanneke Weitering
“Man Meets Milky Way”
Monday, September 23, 2019: A skywatcher gazes up at the Milky Way galaxy’s dusty core in this glittering photo taken from the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert. This plateau is one of the highest and driest places on Earth, which makes it a great location for stargazing. For that reason, it was chosen to be the home of the European Southern Observatory’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). — Hanneke Weitering
A “Slice” of Mars
Friday, September 20, 2019: This view of the Red Planet, which is part of a larger image from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, shows bright clouds and over the planet’s icy north pole contrasted against the dark and dusty plains farther south. Mars Express captured this image using its High Resolution Stereo Camera. Be sure to check out the entire “slice” of Mars here. — Hanneke Weitering
The Nile Delta at Night
Thursday, September 19, 2019: City lights around the Nile River and its delta sparkle by night in this stunning view from the International Space Station. When an Expedition 60 astronaut captured this photo, the International Space Station was flying 255 miles (410 kilometers) above the border between Sudan and Egypt around 1 a.m. local time on Sept. 2. — Hanneke Weitering
Southern Lights in Antarctica
Wednesday, September 18, 2019: A brilliant aurora appears to rise like a glowing, green smoke plume from Concordia research station in Antarctica in this photo by European Space Agency (ESA) photographer Alessandro Mancini.
“I turn my gaze away from the horizon and dusk, there is a stripe in the sky that is not the Milky Way, at first just white and cloud-like, but there is no doubt — the green hues are visible and the curtain-like waves in the sky are unmistakable,” ESA’s on-site doctor Nadja Albertsen wrote in a blog post after witnessing the aurora at the remote research station. — Hanneke Weitering
Noctilucent Clouds Seen from Space
Tuesday, September 17, 2019: A wispy layer of mesospheric clouds illuminates Earth’s atmosphere in this photo taken from the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this photo from space, writing, “Mesospheric clouds tinge the sunset, south of the Indian Ocean.” Mesospheric clouds, also known as noctilucent clouds, form 47 to 53 miles (76 to 85 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, an altitude where water vapor can freeze into clouds of ice crystals. For comparison, the International Space Station orbits at an average altitude of 250 miles (400 km). — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Eyes a Faint Galaxy in Cetus
Monday, September 16, 2019: The faint galaxy UGC 695 shimmers in deep space in this view from the Hubble Space Telescope. Located 30 million light-years away within the constellation Cetus (The Sea Monster), UGC 695 is considered a low-surface-brightness galaxy, which means that it’s even dimmer than the background brightness of Earth’s atmosphere, which makes it difficult to observe. While galaxies like this don’t contain as many stars as their brighter counterparts, they are rich with dark matter. — Hanneke Weitering
The Large Magellanic Cloud
Friday, September 13, 2019: The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbors, gets a new close-up in this image from the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope, located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. VISTA, which stands for the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, has been studying this dwarf galaxy and its smaller galactic sibling, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), for the past decade to image the two galaxies in unprecedented detail. The LMC is located about 163,000 light-years away from Earth, while the SMC is slightly farther away at a distance of 200,000 light-years. Both are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. — Hanneke Weitering
An Eerie ‘Eye’ on Saturn
Thursday, September 12, 2019: Saturn’s south pole looks a bit unsettling in this infrared view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. At the center of a 5,000-mile-wide (8,000 kilometers) storm is an eerie red “eye” that looks similar to the eye of a hurricane on Earth. However, this strange vortex doesn’t behave in the same way as our Earthly hurricanes, with its cloudy rings rising 20 to 45 miles (30-75 km) above the storm’s center. Cassini captured this view from Saturn’s orbit in 2006, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill reprocessed it using near-infrared filtered images. — Hanneke Weitering
9/11 Seen from Space
Wednesday, September 11, 2019: After the Sept. 11 terror attack on New York City 18 years ago today, the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Landsat 7 satellite captured this view of the aftermath from space. In this image, acquired by the satellite’s Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument on Sept. 12, 2001, a plume of smoke is seen rising from lower Manhattan, where the World Trade Center was destroyed. You can see more satellite and astronaut photos of the plume from space here. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Eyes a Small Galactic Neighbor
Tuesday, September 10, 2019: This shimmering swarm of stars, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, is an irregular dwarf galaxy named UGC 685. While its shape may be difficult to discern at first glance, UGC 685 is an unbarred spiral galaxy. It is located about 15 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pisces. — Hanneke Weitering
Dunes in Martian Craters
Monday, September 9, 2019: When NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew over Schroeter Crater on the Red Planet, it captured views of some interesting smaller craters within the crater’s floor. The two impact craters shown here are located inside Schroeter Crater, which is about 190 miles (300 kilometers) wide, and they contain some intricate dune structures on their own crater floors. These Martian dunes were shaped by wind, much in the same way that dunes form on Earth. — Hanneke Weitering
“Quiet” Caribbean After Hurricane Dorian
Friday, September 6, 2019: In this astronaut’s view of Earth from space, bright turquoise features ripple across the seafloor of the Caribbean shortly after Hurricane Dorian passed through the Bahamas. “Just a few miles away from the storm, the Caribbeans are incredibly quiet,” European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted from the International Space Station on Wednesday (Sept. 4). To see photos of Hurricane Dorian from space, check out this Space.com gallery. — Hanneke Weitering
Earth Satellite Observes a Chain of Cyclones
Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019: Four tropical cyclones simultaneously churn across the Western Hemisphere in this image from the GOES-16 weather satellite. When GOES-16 captured the data for this natural-color composite on Wednesday (Sept. 4), both Hurricane Dorian in the Atlantic and Hurricane Juliette in the Pacific were Category 2 storms. Hurricane Dorian has since strengthened to a Category 3 storm. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fernand has made landfall in northeastern Mexico, and Tropical Storm Gabrielle is gaining strength over the eastern Atlantic. You can see a full-disk version of this image in higher resolution here. — Hanneke Weitering
Stellar Feedback in a Barred Spiral Galaxy
Wednesday, September 4, 2019: In this new view of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3351, massive bubbles of hot gas are erupting from the galaxy’s nucleus. Those gas bubbles will affect the formation of new stars in the interstellar medium, or the space between the stars in the galaxy. This process of redistributing mass and energy in star-forming galaxies is known as “stellar feedback,” and it is a driving force in galactic evolution.
Also known as Messier 95, this particular galaxy is location about 33 million light years away from Earth in the constellation of Leo, the Lion. Astronomers captured this image using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. — Hanneke Weitering
Hurricane Dorian Seen from Space
Tuesday, September 3, 2019: Hurricane Dorian swirls off the east coast of Florida in this view from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch shared this photo of the storm during the Labor Day holiday yesterday (Sept. 2), when she and her Expedition 60 crewmembers had the day off from work. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Captures Planetary Nebula in Centaurus Constellation
Friday, August 30, 2019: Located around 10,000 light years away in the constellation Centaurus, a planetary nebula glows in this image by Hubble Space Telescope. A planetary nebula is the final stages in the life of a red giant star, as it ejects layers of ionized gas and the core of the star collapses in on itself. Observing planetary nebulae gives us a glimpse into the future of our own sun. — Passant Rabie
Reaching Out to Missions Far From Home
Thursday, August 29, 2019: The European Space Agency’s Deep Space Antenna looks out into space, waiting for signals from ongoing missions. The antenna is located in Western Australia, and provides routine support to missions orbiting Mars, the Gaia Observatory and Europe’s first mission to Mercury, BepiColombo. — Passant Rabie
Flying Dragon Sweeps Over Canadian Rocky Mountains
Wednesday, August 28, 2019: Astronaut Christina Koch captured an image of the SpaceX Dragon capsule flying over the Canadian Rocky Mountains on its way back to Earth. The spacecraft departed from the International Space Station on August 27, carrying over a ton of science experiments and other gear to Earth for analysis by NASA staff. — Passant Rabie
Smoke Clouds Over Amazon Rainforest
Tuesday, August 27, 2019: As devastating fires continue to sweep through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, astronaut Luca Parmitano captured a grim view of the smoke from the International Space Station. Parmitano tweeted out the images on August 26, saying that the smoke was visible for thousands of kilometers from the man-made fires. This year’s Amazon fires have reached a record high, increasing by about 80% from previous dry seasons, according to Brazil’s space research center (INPE). — Passant Rabie
Dying Star Sheds Its Outer Layer
Monday, August 26, 2019: Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of a dying star after it shed its outer layers, blasting them off into space. The stellar object confused astronomers at first, who recorded the star as two objects rather than one due to the symmetrical lobes on either of its sides. However, the lobes are formed of expanding clouds of material that are spreading outwards in opposite directions with the star at the center. — Passant Rabie
Earth’s Glowing, Red Skin
Friday, August 23, 2019: Astronaut Luca Parmitano captured this stunning view of the African continent from the International Space Station, as he marveled at the ‘skin of Earth.’ The image shows off Africa’s red soil, a type of clay enriched with iron and aluminum, which covers large areas of the continent. (However, Parmitano did not specify which part of Africa he was flying over.) — Passant Rabie
Fires Rage Through the Amazon Rainforest
Thursday, August 22, 2019: Several fires are raging through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, striking a devastating blow to the ongoing fight against climate change. Environmentalists are blaming the fires on people wanting to create more space for agricultural land. However, this year’s fires have reached a record high, increasing by about 80%, according to Brazil’s space research center (INPE). NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of the fires burning through Brazil, as seen from space on August 11. — Passant Rabie
Throwback to the Great American Solar Eclipse
Wednesday, August 21, 2019: Two years ago today, a rare coast-to-coast total solar eclipse swept across the continental United States, briefly turning day into night for millions of spectators from Oregon to South Carolina. ESO photographer Petr Horálek created this stunning composite of the moon and the sun’s corona during totality by combining many exposures of varying duration. The moon is illuminated by light reflecting off the Earth, and some pink solar prominences are visible around its edge. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble Gives Jupiter a Close-Up
Tuesday, August 20, 2019: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and several smaller storms are revealed in intricate detail in this new close-up image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomers used imagery from the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 to stitch together this flat, stretched-out map of the entire planet. — Hanneke Weitering
A Tiny Meteor in the Milky Way
Monday, August 19, 2019: Can you spot the meteor in the Milky Way? After taking this photo of the night sky over Mount Rainier in Washington state on July 30, astrophotographer Tony Corso was surprised to find a tiny trail of a meteor near the center of this image. Look for the short streaker on the right edge of the Milky Way’s dusty band.
The meteor was likely a member of either the Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower or the Alpha Capricornids, both of which peaked at the end of July. It could have also been a Perseid meteor, although that shower didn’t peak until about two weeks later. — Hanneke Weitering
An ‘Inky Abyss’
Friday, August 16, 2019: In this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, what looks like a top-down view of a jellyfish glowing in deep space is actually the planetary nebula NGC 2022. The cosmic orb of ionized gas was expelled from a dying red giant star located at its center. As the star sheds material into space, its core shrinks and grows hotter while emitting ultraviolet radiation that illuminates its gassy shell. — Hanneke
‘Diamond Ring’ Over Argentina
Thursday, August 15, 2019: In this timelapse image of the Great South American Eclipse on July 2, the sun sets behind the Andes mountains as the moon crosses directly in front of it, creating a stunning “diamond ring” effect in the evening sky. Astrophotographer Chirag Upreti created this composite using images he captured from Bella Vista, Argentina.
“Totality occurred about 11 degrees above the horizon, and it was emotionally exhilarating to the naked eye, especially because it formed a beautiful connection with the Earth being so close to the horizon,” Upreti told Space.com. — Hanneke Weitering
Andromeda and the Perseids
Wednesday, August 14, 2019: Two meteors dart across the night sky near the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbor, in this starry image captured by astrophotographer Omid Qadrdan during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Andromeda’s tiny satellite galaxy Messier 110 is also visible in this photo, appearing as a fuzzy “star” above and to the left of the galaxy’s bright core. — Hanneke Weitering
Fire and Fireballs Over Macedonia
Tuesday, August 13, 2019: Several bright Perseid meteor dash across the sky near a wildfire in Macedonia in this fisheye view by Stojan Stojanovski. He captured this photo during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower last night. In the center of what appears to be a ring of smoke, the Milky Way galaxy is faintly visible behind four bright meteors, and one smaller meteor can be seen in the distance. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way Shines Over VISTA
Monday, August 12, 2019: The arc of the Milky Way galaxy sparkles above the European Southern Observatory’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile in this colorful night-sky photo by astrophotographer Petr Horálek. Barely visible on top of a mountain peak in the background is ESO’s Very Large Telescope array. — Hanneke Weitering
A ‘Seagull’ in Space
Friday, August 9, 2019: Flying through the cosmos some 3,400 light-years away from Earth is a bird-shaped cloud of dust and gas known as the Seagull Nebula, or Sharpless 2-296. The European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this new view of the cosmic seagull, which is rich with new star formation. — Hanneke Weitering
The Cat’s Paw Nebula
Thursday, August 8, 2019: In honor of International Cat Day, today we share an iconic image of the Cat’s Paw Nebula, or NGC 6334, a cosmic cloud of dust and gas with three distinct features shaped like “toe beans.” Astronomers with the European Southern Observatory created this image of the nebula using data from the second Digitized Sky Survey back in 2010. You can see more photos of the Cat’s Paw Nebula here. — Hanneke Weitering
Reflections in NASA’s Webb Telescope
Wednesday, August 7, 2019: During a recent test of NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, an engineer snapped this photo of the telescope’s enormous primary mirror reflector off its smaller secondary mirror. If you look closely, you can see part of the secondary mirror reflecting off the gold panels that make up the telescope’s primary mirror. This photo was taken while NASA engineers were performing a test run of the mechanism that deploys the secondary mirror’s support structure. After the telescope launches into space, it will have to perform a series of maneuvers to “unfold” all of its parts. — Hanneke Weitering
Happy Birthday, Curiosity!
Tuesday, August 6, 2019: NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars seven years ago today, took this selfie while making its way up Mount Sharp, a 3-mile (5-kilometer) peak located in the middle of Gale Crater. When Curiosity arrived at the Red Planet in 2012, it touched down inside that same crater. It has since traveled more than 13 miles (21 km), stopping to drill the Martian surface here and there along the way. In this photo, you can see two drill holes near the rover’s base. — Hanneke Weitering
Storms Churn on Jupiter’s Horizon
Monday, August 5, 2019: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and a stream of smaller Jovian storms swirl across the planet’s south equatorial belt in this new view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill created this view using data collected by the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager during a close flyby on July 21. At the time, Juno was about 26,697 miles (42,965 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering
A Spiral Galaxy’s Edge
Friday, August 2, 2019: What looks like a long, narrow stretch of stars in this Hubble Space Telescope image is actually a spiral galaxy just like the Milky Way. From our position in the cosmos, we view this galaxy edge-on. Named NGC 3432, this galaxy is located about 45 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Leo Minor. — Hanneke Weitering
A Commemorative Coin Returns to Space
Thursday, August 1, 2019: A medallion from the European Astronaut Centre floats in microgravity in front of an Earth-facing window of the International Space Station. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted the photo from space this morning. The medallion launches with all European astronauts, Parmitano said, adding that this tradition started after his first mission in 2013. He returned to the orbiting laboratory on July 20. “I took it with me – proudly – for the first time,” he said. — Hanneke Weitering
Meteor Over Mount Rainier
Wednesday, July 31, 2019: A meteor, Jupiter and the Milky Way galaxy light up the night sky above the snow-capped Mount Rainier in Washington state in this stunning image by astrophotographer Tony Corso. He captured the photo during the peaks of two dueling meteor showers, the Southern Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capricornids on July 29. — Hanneke Weitering
Moon Plays ‘Peekaboo’ with Earth
Tuesday, July 30, 2019: Good morning from the International Space Station! NASA astronaut Nick Hague tweeted this photo of a nearly-full moon setting behind the Earth as a fluffy sheet of clouds covers the land below. A few snow-capped mountains can be seen through a break in the clouds to the bottom right of the image. (Hague did not specify which mountain range is in the photo.) — Hanneke Weitering
SPECULOOS Spots a Strange Galaxy
Monday, July 29, 2019: The oddly shaped galaxy Centaurus A glistens in deep space in this view from the European Space Agency’s new SPECULOOS observatory in Chile. This was one of the “first light” images from SPECULOOS (which stands for “Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars”). Centaurus A, also known as NGC 5128, is one of the brightest objects in the night sky of the Southern Hemisphere. It’s located 11 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus. Astronomers believe that Centaurus A was once an elliptical galaxy that collided with a small spiral galaxy, and that this collision is responsible for the galaxy’s irregular shape. — Hanneke Weitering
SpaceX Aces Another Landing
Friday, July 26, 2019: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket touches down on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida after launching a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. The rocket lifted off yesterday at 6:01 p.m. EDT (2201 GMT) and delivered the cargo craft into orbit before returning to Earth. More than 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kilograms) of crew supplies and science experiments were packed inside the Dragon, which is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Saturday. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way Sparkles Over ‘Quantum of Solace’ Hotel
Thursday, July 25, 2019: The colorful core of the Milky Way sparkles above the European Southern Observatory’s Residencia, a building featured in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” that was destroyed in a dramatic explosion (with the help of computer graphics, not real explosives). Residencia houses astronomers and other visitors at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, which is home to the Very Large Telescope Array and several other telescope facilities. — Hanneke Weitering
Curiosity Rover Spotted from Space
Wednesday, July 24, 2019: Can you spot the rover in this photo of Mars? NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) snapped this view of the Curiosity rover from space as it passed over a region known as “Woodland Bay.” The rover is currently scaling a mountain called Aeolis Mons (also known as Mount Sharp), a 3-mile-high (5 kilometers) peak at the center of Gale Crater. MRO captured the image using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on May 31. — Hanneke Weitering
Smoke Meets Storms Over Russia
Tuesday, July 23, 2019: Plumes of smoke from wildfires mix with a swirling storm system over Russia in this view from NASA’s Earth Observatory. The natural-color image was created using data collected from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite on Monday (July 21). In the regions of Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Buryatia, the largest wildfires had burned more than 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) by Tuesday, according to NASA. — Hanneke Weitering
Astronauts Approach the International Space Station
Monday, July 22, 2019: The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft approaches the International Space Station carrying three new Expedition 60 crewmembers. NASA astronaut Drew Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Saturday (July 20), on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and arrived at the orbiting laboratory about six hours later. — Hanneke Weitering
Soyuz Stands Ready for Launch
Friday, July 19, 2019: A Soyuz rocket that will launch three people to the International Space Station on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing tomorrow (July 20) stands tall on the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov will lift off at 12:28 p.m. EDT (1628 GMT), kicking off a six-month mission as crewmembers of Expeditions 60 and 61. — Hanneke Weitering
Lunar Eclipse Over Jordan
Thursday, July 18, 2019: The full moon of July, also known as the Thunder Moon, passed through Earth’s shadow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning (July 16-17). Astrophotographer Zaid Abbadi captured the partial lunar eclipse from Amman, Jordan, and created this composite image showing the moon’s path across the sky as its surface gradually darkened in the Earth’s shadow. — Hanneke Weitering
Washington Celebrates Apollo 11
Wednesday, July 17, 2019: A full-size projection of NASA’s Saturn V rocket lit up the Washington Monument in honor of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 moon mission yesterday (July 16). The Saturn V rocket, which launched the astronauts to the moon, was 363 feet (111 meters) tall, and its projection spans about two-thirds of the height of the 555-foot (169 m) Washington Monument. — Hanneke Weitering
Apollo 11 Rocket Goes Supersonic
Tuesday, July 16, 2019: The Saturn V rocket carrying three Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon soars behind an American flag shortly after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. As the rocket broke the sound barrier, a ring of vapor formed around the rocket’s second stage. Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission, which landed the first astronauts on the moon on July 20, 1969. — Hanneke Weitering
Lightning and Star Trails
Friday, July 12, 2019: A long-exposure photo of lightning storms seen from space makes Earth look like it’s scattered with fluffy bits of dryer lint. Meanwhile, Earth’s city lights streak across the land below, an effect caused by both the Earth’s rotation and the swift orbit of the International Space Station, where NASA astronaut Christina Koch captured this image. In the background, star trails circle around Polaris, the North Star. — Hanneke Weitering
ExoMars Rover Camera Meets Martian Meteorite
Thursday, July 11, 2019: The Close-Up Imager (CLUPI) camera set to launch on the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover in 2020 gets ready for its Mars mission by studying a Martian meteorite on Earth. Named “Exhibit 0102.226,” the meteorite was discovered in Oman in 2001. Scientists at ESA’s ESTEC technology center in the Netherlands loaned the space rock from the Natural History Museum in Bern, Switzerland, to calibrate the instrument before it goes to the Red Planet. — Hanneke Weitering
Airglow and the Moon
Tuesday, July 10, 2019: The moon lights up the star-filled night sky as an effect called “airglow” gives Earth’s atmosphere a subtle green glow in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. This green luminescence is the result of interactions between atmospheric particles and ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun. — Hanneke Weitering
NASA’s Mobile Launcher Gets Soaked
Tuesday, July 9, 2019: An enormous burst of water gushes over Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a water flow test at its new mobile launcher. The launch tower will support the upcoming flights of NASA’s new Space Launch System megarocket for the first Artemis moon mission. About 400,000 gallons of water poured onto the mobile launcher during this test, which took place on July 2. — Hanneke Weitering
Solar Prominences Appear at Totality
Monday, July 8, 2019: During the total solar eclipse last Tuesday (July 2), bright-pink solar prominences became visible around the sun’s atmosphere as the moon blocked its bright surface from view. These prominences are made of tangled magnetic field lines that hold on to plasma in the sun’s chromosphere, and the features can extend all the way out into the sun’s corona. Prominences are only visible during a total solar eclipse, when the brightest part of the sun is blocked from view by Earth’s moon. — Hanneke Weitering
The sun’s corona
Friday, July 5, 2019: Details of the sun’s brilliant corona come to light during the total solar eclipse of July 2 in this composite of polarized images captured from the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The sun’s corona, which is only visible during totality, can reveal information about magnetic activity on the surface of the sun. — Hanneke Weitering
Astronauts Celebrate Independence Day in Space
Thursday, July 4, 2019: Two NASA astronauts beamed home their holiday wishes from the International Space Station today (July 4). Christina Koch and Nick Hague are the only two Americans currently living off the planet. — Hanneke Weitering
Wednesday, July 3, 2019: A total solar eclipse darkens the sky above the La Silla Observatory in Chile in this aerial shot captured via drone during totality. Thousands of spectators had gathered at the observatory to see the eclipse. In the foreground are several of the telescopes that belong to the observatory, while the Andes Mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop. — Hanneke Weitering
Snow-Capped Mountains Seen from Space
Monday, July 1, 2019: A photo of Earth taken from the International Space Station reveals the frigid mountain tops of the Andes in South America. Tomorrow (July 2), a total solar eclipse will pass over this mountain range. Parts of Chile and Argentina will get to witness totality, when the moon blocks out the sun entirely, while the rest of South America can see a partial eclipse. — Hanneke Weitering
Mobile Launcher on a Roll
Friday, June 28, 2019: NASA’s mobile launcher arrives at NASA’s Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final tests in preparation for its launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion spacecraft. The mobile launcher will be used for the launch of Artemis 1, the first planned mission of NASA’s new moon exploration program. It arrived at the pad on June 27 and will remain there for the rest of the summer as NASA gears up for the historic uncrewed test flight around the moon. — Hanneke Weitering
Strawberry Moon Seen from Space
Thursday, June 27, 2019: The full moon of June, also known as the Strawberry Moon, looms above Earth’s horizon in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. The image was captured on June 17 as the space station was orbiting 254 miles (409 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean northeast of Guam. — Hanneke Weitering
Liftoff of the Falcon Heavy
Wednesday, June 26, 2019: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket fires its engines for a spectacular nighttime liftoff from NASA’s historic launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission, which launched early Monday morning, carried payloads for the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program, NASA, NOAA and the Planetary Society. — Hanneke Weitering
Astronauts Return to Earth
Tuesday, June 25, 2019: A Soyuz crew capsule carrying three crewmembers home from the International Space Station parachuted down to Earth under the first-quarter moon on Monday night (June 24). NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques touched down southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. EDT (0247 GMT or 8:47 a.m. local time on June 25). — Hanneke Weitering
‘Galaxies With a Chance of Asteroids’
Monday, June 24, 2019: Several asteroids “photobombed” this Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxies in deep space. The composite shows the curved trails of 20 different asteroids, some of which were undiscovered until they appeared in Hubble’s field of view. This picture, which was first originally in 2017, shows the parallel field for the galaxy cluster Abell 370. It is being revisited as part of the European Space Agency’s new “Hubble Asteroid Hunter” citizen science project. — Hanneke Weitering
Hubble’s ‘Hidden Treasure’
Friday, June 21, 2019: Countless stars fill the cosmic void around the irregular galaxy IC 10 in this deep-space image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Located 2.2 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia, IC 10 is the closest known starburst galaxy, or a galaxy that is undergoing rampant formation of new stars. It is a member of the Local Group, a collection of more than 50 galaxies that includes the Milky Way. This image won 10th place in the Hubble Hidden Treasures competition, which called on the public to help sift through Hubble’s enormous collection of images to find the most beautiful ones that did not receive the fanfare they deserved. — Hanneke Weitering
‘The Boot’ Spotted from Space
Thursday, June 20, 2019: A new photo of Earth from space offers a clear view of southern Italy, a peninsula commonly referred to as “the boot,” and the island of Sicily. The northern part of the country is obstructed by a blanket of clouds that stretches as far as the eye can see. An astronaut at the International Space Station captured this view of Italy as it was passing over the Mediterranean Sea on June 9. At the time, the space station was orbiting at an altitude of 255 miles (410 kilometers), which is more than high enough to be able to see the curvature of the Earth. — Hanneke Weitering
Triple Cubesat Sendoff
Wednesday, June 19, 2019: Outside the International Space Station, the Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer ejects three small cubesats into low Earth orbit for the BIRDS-3 mission, which is part of a program to help countries build their first satellites. This batch of cubesats includes Nepal’s first satellite, NepaliSat-1, and Sri Lanka’s first satellite, Raavana-1. The third is a Japanese cubesat called Uguisu. All three arrived at the space station in April on board a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, and the Expedition 59 crew released them into space on Monday (June 17). — Hanneke Weitering
Happy Anniversary, LRO!
Tuesday, June 18, 2019: Ten years ago today, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) soared into space atop an Atlas 5 rocket, together with the agency’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). The rocket with the two spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 18, 2009, at 5:32 p.m. EDT (2132 GMT). LCROSS intentionally crashed into the moon a few months later, but LRO is still going strong today. — Hanneke Weitering
Milky Way Sparkles Over ALMA
Monday, June 17, 2019: The arc of the Milky Way galaxy stretches over the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile in this panoramic shot by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Petr Horálek. Also visible in the night sky here are the Crux constellation (also known as the Southern Cross), located above and to the right of the nearest antenna, and the Carina Nebula, a reddish-pink emission nebula to the right of the Southern Cross. — Hanneke Weitering
A Falcon in the Clouds
Friday, June 14, 2019: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket pierces through a layer of clouds after lifting off in the thick morning fog at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday (June 12). The rocket successfully delivered three Earth-observing satellites into Earth orbit for the Canadian Space Agency before returning to Earth to stick a landing. — Hanneke Weitering
Cloudy Sunset Seen from Orbit
Thursday, June 13, 2019: A sheet of clouds blankets the sky over the Pacific Ocean as light from the setting sun reflects off the surface of the water in this view from the International Space Station. An Expedition 59 astronaut captured this photo on Tuesday (June 11) when the space station was flying into the sunset about 650 miles (1,050 kilometers) off the coast of San Francisco. — Hanneke Weitering
Satellite Flare Over VLT
Wednesday, June 12, 2019: A satellite flare lights up the sky over the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) array on Paranal mountain in Chile in this sparkling image by ESO photo ambassador Roger Wesson. The four main unit telescopes that make up VLT are pictured here. Not pictured are the array’s four smaller auxiliary telescopes. — Hanneke Weitering
A Jovian Abyss
Tuesday, June 11, 2019: NASA’s Juno spacecraft spotted this dark, eerie hole at the center of a cloud vortex in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The dark spot, located in a Jovian jet stream, is surrounded by bright high-altitude clouds that appear brighter as they swirl in the sunlight. Juno captured this image on May 29 when the spacecraft was about 9,200 miles (14,800 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering
Southern Lights Seen from Space
Monday, June 10, 2019: Lime-green auroras shimmy over the South Pole in this view from the International Space Station. “Years ago at the South Pole, I looked up to the aurora for inspiration through the 6-month winter night,” NASA astronaut Christina Koch tweeted from space. “Now I know they’re just as awe inspiring from above.”
In the foreground of the image, two Russian spacecraft are docked to the orbiting lab: the Soyuz MS-12 crew spacecraft and the Progress 72 cargo vessel. — Hanneke Weitering
New Crater Spotted on Mars
Friday, June 7, 2019: A fresh crater on the surface of Mars shows darker shades of Martian soil that became exposed after an impact kicked up the loose dirt on top. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this color-enhanced image of the crater using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on April 17. Scientists believe the crater formed sometime between September 2016 and February 2019. — Hanneke Weitering
Saturn Gets Psychedelic
Thursday, June 6, 2019: Saturn’s strange north polar vortex looks like a psychedelic cyclone in this view from NASA’s Cassini orbiter. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed this image using data Cassini collected during a close flyby of Saturn on Nov. 27, 2012. Cassini’s 20-year mission came to an end in 2017 when the aging spacecraft plunged into the planet’s atmosphere. — Hanneke Weitering
Wednesday, June 5, 2019: This brilliant and diffuse object glowing in deep space is the elliptical galaxy NGC 4621, also known as Messier 59. Located about 50 million light-years from Earth, it is one of the nearly 2,000 galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this new view of the galaxy using its Advanced Camera for Surveys. — Hanneke Weitering
Tuesday, June 4, 2019: A snowman-like figure protruding from the top of a layer of clouds makes Earth’s atmosphere look like a weird winter wonderland in this photo from the International Space Station. “Like giant snowmen,” Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques wrote when he tweeted the photo from space on Saturday (June 1). — Hanneke Weitering
Colors of the Cosmos
Monday, June 3, 2019: A colorful night sky sparkles over the La Silla Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert in this cosmic shot by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Petr Horálek. As bright-green airglow looms near the horizon, red emission nebulas decorate the Orion constellation overhead. One of them is Barnard’s Loop, which forms an arc around the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. — Hanneke Weitering
Friday, May 31, 2019: This vivid photo from Roscosmos shows the agency’s heavy-lift Proton-M rocket carrying a communications satellite, the Yamal-601, toward orbit. The rocket and satellite launched on May 30, 2019 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Read more about the launch and watch a video here. — Sarah Lewin
Orion’s Abort Rockets
Thursday, May 30, 2019: A prototype NASA Orion space capsule, equipped with its emergency abort motors passes by the agency’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 22, 2019. NASA will launch the capsule on Ascent Abort 2 (AA-2), a flight test to check Orion’s abort system, on July 2. — Tariq Malik
Ready to Launch
Wednesday, May 29, 2019: A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the Yamal-601 telecommunications satellite is raised atop its launchpad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ahead of a May 30, 2019 launch. The rocket roll out occurred May 27. The Proton booster will launch Yamal-601 for the Russian satellite operator JSC Gazprom Space Systems. The satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space and will replace an older Yamal-202 satellite currently in orbit. Wondering how Russia launches rockets? Here’s a photo tour of Russia’s space centers. — Tariq Malik
Tuesday, May 28, 2019: The moon looks a bit squashed in this stunning photo by NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Expedition 59 flight engineer, on the International Space Station. Koch shared the image on May 24, 2019, about a week after it was taken.
“Moon set from last weekend showing how the atmosphere acts like a lens!,” Koch wrote in a Twitter post. “Denser layers bend the light more, making the moon appear flatter as light reflected off of it travels through the denser atmosphere of Earth.” You can see more amazing photos from the Expedition 59 crew here! — Tariq Malik
SpaceX’s Starlink Streak
Monday, May 27, 2019: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s first 60 Starlink satellites streaks into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 24, 2019 in this dazzling long-exposure view taken by a SpaceX photographer. It was a landmark launch for SpaceX in several ways.
First, it kicked off the beginning of a planned 12,000-satellite Starlink constellation to provide affordable internet access to people around the world. And second: The launch marked the third launch and landing of the Falcon 9 first stage booster, another step forward for SpaceX’s reusable rocket program. You can see more Starlink launch photos here! — Tariq Malik
Europe’s City Lights Seen from Space
Friday, May 24, 2019: Europe’s city lights gleam through clear skies in this post-sunset photo by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques. “Cloudless night over Spain and Southern France. I imagine people dining outside,” Saint-Jacques tweeted from the International Space Station. Barely visible in the foreground near the top of the image is a portion of one of the station’s solar arrays. — Hanneke Weitering
‘Strings by Starlight’
Thursday, May 23, 2019: The world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma treats astronomers to a starlit performance at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. For this exclusive concert on May 1, 2019, Ma requested to play in a dark-sky site under the shimmering band of the Milky Way galaxy. To the right of the Milky Way are two of our galactic neighbors known as the Magellanic clouds, which are glowing through the subtle red and green airglow above the horizon. — Hanneke Weitering
Blue Moon Above a Blue Planet
Wednesday, May 22, 2019: The Blue Moon looms high above the thin blue veil of Earth’s atmosphere in this photo captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station. Because the full moon of May, also known as the “Flower Moon,” was the third full moon in a season with four full moons, it is considered a Blue Moon by the traditional or “seasonal” definition of the term. The modern definition of a Blue Moon is the second full moon in one month, and the next time that happens will be on Oct. 31, 2020. — Hanneke Weitering
Sunglint on the Irrawaddy River Delta
Tuesday, May 21, 2019: Bright sunlight reflects off the Andaman Sea near the mouth of Myanmar’s Irrawaddy river delta in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. By pointing a camera at the “sunglint point,” or the spot where sunlight reflects off the Earth and directly into the camera, astronauts can capture photos that emphasize the details of Earth’s shorelines. — Hanneke Weitering
Jezero Crater: Landing Site for Mars 2020
Monday, May 20, 2019: A colorful image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) features Jezero Crater, an ancient lake bed on the Red Planet where the agency plans to send its next Mars rover. Named Mars 2020, the rover is scheduled to launch next summer and will touch down in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) crater in February 2021. Spectral data from MRO’s imaging instruments revealed that sediments in the area are rich with minerals “that indicate chemical alteration by water,” NASA officials said in a description of the image. — Hanneke Weitering
Frosty Dunes on Mars
Friday, May 17, 2019: Swirling Martian sand dunes are covered with carbon-dioxide frost and dust in this new image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image, captured by the orbiter’s HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera, is the first of a new series of images that researchers will use to study changing seasonal processes on Mars. — Hanneke Weitering
A Galaxy Ripped to Shreds
Thursday, May 16, 2019: What was once a spiral galaxy much like the Milky Way has been reduced to a shapeless swarm of stars and cosmic dust thanks to the gravitational pull of a galactic neighbor. In this Hubble image, NGC 4485 — which is now categorized as an “irregular” galaxy — is being distorted by the spiral galaxy NGC 4490, located out of the frame of this image to the bottom right.
NGC 4490 is also pulling a stream of “bright knots and huge pockets of gassy regions, as well as enormous regions of star formation in which young, massive, blue stars are born,” European Space Agency officials said in a description of the image. — Hanneke Weitering
A Painting of Galaxies
Wednesday, May 15, 2019: The galaxy cluster SPT0615 paints a stunning visage across the constellation Pictor (The Painter’s Easel) in this dazzling view from the Hubble Space Telescope released May 10, 2019 by the European Space Agency. Also known as SPT-CL J0615-5746, this galaxy cluster is one of the farthest observed to cause gravitational lensing.
“Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a background object is deflected around mass between the object and the observer,” ESA officials said. “Among the identified background objects, there is SPT0615-JD, a galaxy that is thought to have emerged just 500 million years after the Big Bang. This puts it among the very earliest structures to form in the Universe. It is also the farthest galaxy ever imaged by means of gravitational lensing.” — Tariq Malik
Which Way Is Up?
Tuesday, May 14, 2019: Which way is up in space? For the Expedition 59 astronauts on the International Space Station, it’s multiple choice. That’s clear in this playful weightless portrait of the astronauts taken in the station’s Harmony module on April 30. Seen here are: (Clockwise from top) NASA astronauts Anne McClain, Christina Koch, Nick Hague and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques. — Tariq Malik
Throwback to the Last Hubble Servicing Mission
Monday, May 13, 2019: On this day 10 years ago, astronauts on board the space shuttle Atlantis began the fourth and final servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope. One of the STS-125 crewmembers snapped this photo of the iconic telescope after the astronauts grappled it with the Canadarm robotic arm on May 13, 2009. Over the next five days, the crew conducted five spacewalks to install two new instruments on Hubble, the Wide Field Camera 3 and Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, along with some new batteries, sensors and gyroscopes. — Hanneke Weitering
A Cloudy Day on Mars
Friday, May 10, 2019: Grey clouds scoot across the Martian sky in this view from NASA’s InSight lander. The spacecraft photographed the drifting clouds during a sunset on the Red Planet on April 25 using its Instrument Context Camera, which is mounted below the deck. Sitting on the dirt the foreground is the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, which is looking for seismic activity, or “Marsquakes.” — Hanneke Weitering
Dragon on the Horizon
Thursday, May 9, 2019: A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station’s Harmony module as astronauts maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture it. The Dragon arrived at the station on May 6 carrying about 5,500 lbs. (2,495 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments for the Expeditino 59 crew. — Hanneke Weitering
Saturn Shines in False Color
Wednesday, May 8, 2019: Saturn’s whirling cloud formations look absolutely mesmerizing in this close-up view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill created this false-color image using near-infrared data collected by Cassini on Feb. 27, 2013. — Hanneke Weitering
The Falcon Flies on ‘Star Wars Day’
Tuesday, May 7, 2019: A long-exposure photo of a Falcon 9 rocket launch shows the rocket’s liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the separation of the booster and the upper stage, followed by the booster’s descent for a drone-ship landing as the payload cruises into orbit. The SpaceX rocket pictured here launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on “Star Wars Day” (May 4). — Hanneke Weitering
‘Pillars’ of the Milky Way
Monday, May 6, 2019: In this peculiar-looking panoramic shot of the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the Milky Way appears to form two tornado-shaped columns of starlight that extend down from the heavens to Earth’s surface. This illusion is the result of the photographer, the European Southern Observatory’s Petr Horálek, projecting an entire 360-degree panorama onto a flat, rectangular image. In reality, the Milky Way arcs across the sky from one horizon to the other; the fact that it appears to spread out across the top of this image is merely a product of the illusions. Also visible here are the Magellanic Clouds, the Pleiades star cluster, the bright planet Jupiter and several nebulas. You can explore the full-resolution image up close here. — Hanneke Weitering
Columbus Meets the Southern Lights
Friday, May 3, 2019: A lime-green aurora lights up Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean in this photo captured from the International Space Station. In the foreground is the Columbus module, a research laboratory that the European Space Agency launched to the station in 2008. — Hanneke Weitering
Galaxy-Mapping Satellite Spotted in Orbit
Thursday, May 2, 2019: The European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft dashes across a field of stars in this view from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile. While Gaia is scanning the stars to create the most detailed 3D map of the Milky Way galaxy yet, the European Southern Observatory’s VST is keeping an eye on the spacecraft from Earth to precisely measure its orbit, which improves the accuracy of Gaia’s star map. The spacecraft appears as a trail of dots near the bottom of the image, just to the left of the brightest star in the frame. — Hanneke
Alluvial Fan Seen from Space
Wednesday, May 1, 2019: This peculiar landscape may look like it belongs to another planet, but it was spotted right here on planet Earth by NASA’s Terra satellite. The image shows streams of storm water forming a geometric drainage pattern known as an alluvial fan. NASA’s Terra satellite spotted this feature on the border between China and Mongolia, where the nearly parallel streams covered an area spanning about 10.9 by 22.6 miles (18 by 36.3 kilometers). — Hanneke Weitering
Winds Blow Over the Canary Islands
Tuesday, April 30, 2019: Wispy clouds sweep across the sky over the Canary Islands in this photo by astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. It’s “easy to tell which way the wind is blowing over the Canaries,” Saint-Jacques tweeted yesterday from the International Space Station. — Hanneke Weitering
A Spiral Starburst Galaxy
Monday, April 29, 2019: Meet Messier 100, a so-called “grand design” spiral galaxy with bright, well-defined arms that tightly curl around its galactic core. Located about 60 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices, Messier 100 is a known “starburst” galaxy that serves as a stellar nursery for waves of new star formation. Astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile to capture this new view of Messier 100 as part of an astronomical census called Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS). — Hanneke Weitering
Queensland Floods Seen from Space
Friday, April 26, 2019: Muddy water gushes into the Coral Sea near the Great Barrier Reef after torrential rains flooded Queensland, Australia earlier this year. The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite, which monitors coastal waters, captured this image on Feb. 10, a few days after the rainfall stopped. The high-resolution view shows sediment flowing from the Burdekin River into the Coral Sea, not far from the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. — Hanneke Weitering
STS-31 Deploys the Hubble Space Telescope
Thursday, April 25, 2019: Twenty-nine years ago today, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery used the Canadarm robotic arm to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. This view from the shuttle’s cargo bay shows the iconic telescope glistening in the sun shortly after it was released. — Hanneke Weitering
Related: On This Day in Space! Hubble Space Telescope Deployed
Happy Birthday, Hubble!
Wednesday, April 24, 2019: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope launched on this day 29 years ago. To celebrate the beloved telescope’s anniversary, the Hubble team released this new image of the Southern Crab Nebula. This hourglass-shaped nebula is the product of interactions between stars in a binary system, where a red giant star is feeding material to its white dwarf companion. — Hanneke Weitering
A ‘Comet Cat’
Tuesday, April 23, 2019: From this angle, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko looks a bit like a rocky space cat! The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft captured this view of the comet in October 2014, about one month before it dropped off the smaller Philae lander to touch down on the comet’s surface. At the time, Rosetta was 11.6 miles (18.6 kilometers) from the comet’s surface. The cat’s “ears” are twin peaks that surround a region known as the “C. Alexander Gate,” which was named for Rosetta project scientist Claudia Alexander, who passed away in July 2015. — Hanneke Weitering
Easter Sunrise in Space
Monday, April 22, 2019: Happy Earth Day (and happy late Easter)! Here’s what the Earth looked like from the International Space Station during one of the 16 sunrises the astronauts experienced on Easter Sunday (April 21). Because the orbiting laboratory orbits Earth while traveling at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h), the astronauts see the sun rise and set every 45 minutes as they race around the globe. NASA astronaut Anne McClain tweeted this sunrise photo from space last night. — Hanneke Weitering
The Egg Nebula
Friday, April 19, 2019: Here’s a colorful cosmic Easter egg to start off your holiday weekend! The Egg Nebula, seen here in a view from the Hubble Space Telescope, is a “preplanetary nebula,” or a cloud of dust and gas ejected from a dying star and illuminated by the star’s last bit of light. Located about 3,000 light-years away from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, the faint Egg Nebula was first spotted by astronomers in the 1970s, and it was the first nebula of its kind that anyone had ever seen. It was then imaged by Hubble in the 1990s. — Hanneke Weitering
Beresheet’s Last Photo
Thursday, April 18, 2019: This is the last photo that the Israeli moon lander named “Beresheet” took before it crashed into the surface of the moon in a failed landing attempt last week. At the time, the spacecraft was about 9 miles (15 kilometers) above the lunar surface, just a few moments before mission control lost contact with the spacecraft. Investigators believe that a “manual command” inadvertently caused Beresheet’s main engine to shut down, and the lander crashed because it couldn’t slow down in time to execute a soft landing. — Hanneke Weitering
It’s a Giant Space Jellyfish!
Wednesday, April 17, 2019: Swimming through a group of galaxies more than 200 million light-years away from Earth is the so-called “jellyfish” galaxy named ESO 137-001. This celestial jellyfish is a spiral galaxy much like the Milky Way, but it has long “tentacles” of hot gas streaming away from the galactic disk. Scientists aren’t sure how the gas is being stripped away, but NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope may be able to shed some light on the origin of those tentacles by studying them in unprecedented detail after its planned launch in 2021. This view combines visible-light imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope and X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. — Hanneke Weitering
Antares at Sunrise
Tuesday, April 16, 2019: The Antares rocket that will launch the next cargo shipment to the International Space Station stands tall on Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during sunrise this morning. Tomorrow (April 17) the rocket will launch the Cygnus CRS-11 cargo spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory with about 7,600 lbs. (3,450 kg) of supplies for the Expedition 59 crew. — Hanneke Weitering
Meteor Streaks Over Portuguese Castle
Monday, April 15, 2019: As star trails circle over the Castle of Noudar in Barrancos, Portugal, a stray meteor streaks across the night sky. A thick light trail from the bright planet Jupiter inches through the sky to its right, and a thinner trail from the brilliant star Arcturus dominates the upper-right edge of the image. Astrophotographer Sérgio Conceição captured 80 frames to create this time-lapse view of the night sky on Feb. 17, 2019. — Hanneke Weitering
SpaceX Aces Falcon Heavy Booster Landings
Friday, April 12, 2019: The two side boosters on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket stick a simultaneous upright landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida following the launch of the Saudi Arabian communications satellite Arabsat-6A on Thursday (April 11). A third booster, the core stage, landed shortly afterward on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the second successful flight of a Falcon Heavy and the first commercial mission for the enormous rocket. — Hanneke Weitering
Twin Rockets Make ‘Fireworks’ Over Norway
Thursday, April 11, 2019: Two sounding rockets created this colorful light display in the night sky as they launched on a mission to study Earth’s auroras. NASA’s Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE) mission launched two Black Brant XI-A sounding rockets on April 5 from the Andøya Space Center in Norway. — Hanneke Weitering
Earth Photobombs a ‘Space Selfie’
Wednesday, April 10, 2019: Earth’s reflection looks like a beautiful “blue marble” on the visor of Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who took this selfie during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on April 8. — Hanneke Weitering
Starhopper in Silhouette
Tuesday, April 9, 2019: SpaceX’s Starhopper prototype is seen during testing operations at the company’s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas near Brownsville, Texas in this photo released by CEO Elon Musk on April 7, 2019.
Starhopper is a prototype for SpaceX’s larger Starship spacecraft and its Super Heavy booster. The prototype will make test hops to suborbital altitudes to prove technologies needed for SpaceX’s 100-person Starship spacecraft for deep-space flights to the moon, Mars and beyond. — Tariq Malik
Webb in the Clean Room
Monday, April 8, 2019: Engineers prepare the optical portion of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for integration with its rocket at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California. The new space observatory is scheduled to launch in 2021 on an Ariane 5 rocket. — Hanneke Weitering
A Jovian Cyclone
Friday, April 5, 2019: A cyclonic storm churns through Jupiter’s northern hemisphere in this new view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The swirling cloud formation looks a lot like a hurricane on Earth, with fluffy clouds popping up from the storm’s spiral arms. Juno captured this view with its JunoCam imager on Feb. 12, when it was about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering
Cargo Launch Seen from Space
Northern Lights Over Russia
The Wild Duck Cluster
An Out-of-This-World Selfie
A Cosmic Butterfly
‘A Million Dreams’
A Jovian Marble
A Cosmic Question Mark
Oil Spill Seen from Space
Space Station Transits the Moon
How the Equinox Looks from Space
Galactic Arc Sparkles Over Portuguese Bridge
A ‘Nebulous’ Star Cluster
Soyuz Streaks to Space Station!
Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein!
A Toasted Space Marshmallow
‘Pac-Man’ Eats the Moon
Crew Dragon in the Clouds
SpaceX Sticks a Drone-Ship Landing
Star Trails Over Flores
Southern Lights Over ‘SuperDARN’ in Antarctica
Crew Dragon on the Horizon
Crew Dragon Ready for Launch
Exclusive Eclipse Seen from Space
Canadarm2 Waves at Earth from Space
SPECULOOS Sees a Faint Spiral
New Evidence for Water on Ancient Mars
‘Mr. Hankey’ Spotted on Jupiter
‘Snow Moon’ Seen from Space
A Stellar Nursery in the Large Magellanic Cloud
A Cosmic Valentine
A Galaxy With Split Personalities
The Milky Way Meets Mars Over Alqueva
The Horsehead and Flame Nebulas
A Martian River Delta
Happy Moon Golf-iversary!
A Stormy ‘Oval’ Swirls on Jupiter
‘Exo-Braking’ Cubesat Deploys
A ‘Wading’ Galaxy Forms a Cosmic Tail
Mount Etna Eruption Seen from Space
Epic Winter Storm Seen from Space
Blue Dunes on Mars
365 Days of Sunshine
Blood Moon ‘Eclipses’ a Star
Aurora Spotted from Space
Chile’s Vibrant Night Sky
Total Lunar Eclipse Over Chile
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Supermoon
A Strangely Spherical Galaxy
A Grapefruit in Space
The Triangulum Galaxy
Storms on Jupiter
Future Home of the Cherenkov Telescope Array
Earth, Moon and Bennu
On the Move
Crew Dragon Emerges
So Long, MU69!
Crescent Moon over NYC
A Star Is Born
Image of the Day Archives