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Image of the Day: February 2011

The Second Time Around

NASA/Frank Michaux

Viewed from inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery awaited its 3.4-mile journey to Launch Pad 39A on Jan. 31, 2011. The shuttle took seven hours to complete the move. That was the second time Discovery rolled out to the pad for the STS-133 mission.

Altered Images

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thursday, February 17, 2011: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a new infrared view of the North American nebula — but where's the continent? Since infrared light can penetrate dust, while visible light cannot, the picture of the nebula that usually resembles the continent of North America (see image for comparison) changes completely. Dusty, dark clouds in the visible image vanish in Spitzer's view. In addition, Spitzer's infrared detectors display the glow of dusty cocoons enveloping baby stars. Clusters of young stars (about one million years old) appear throughout the image.

--Tom Chao

Out of the Blue and Into the Black

ESA/NASA

Friday, February 18, 2011: European Space Agency Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station, snapped this picture of the Automated Transfer Vehicle 2 launching from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. Nespoli tweeted (as "astro_paolo"): "Congrats to Arianespace + ESA on ATV launch. #E26 looks forward to welcoming it on #ISS! http://flic.kr/p/9iNCrZ http://flic.kr/p/9iNCta." The ATV should dock at the International Space Station on Feb. 24.

--Tom Chao

The President and the Astronaut

White House/Pete Souza

Monday, February 21, 2011: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Mark Kelly (at far right), the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, listen to remarks by Daniel Hernandez, the intern who helped save the life of Rep. Giffords during the Tucson shootings. This memorial service took place at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 12, 2011. Kelly, a NASA astronaut, announced on Feb. 4 that his wife's recovery appears sufficient enough for him to command the April 2011 STS-134 mission of space shuttle Endeavour, as previously planned.

--Tom Chao

Here to Go

NASA/Frank Michaux

Tuesday, February 22, 2011: Space shuttle Discovery's STS-133 crew arrived on the Shuttle Landing Facility runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard four T-38 jets, on Sunday, Feb. 20. NASA plans to launch Discovery on Thursday, Feb. 24.

--Tom Chao

I Will Get By, I Will Survive

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum

Wednesday, February 23, 2011: Open star cluster NGC 6791 formed a whopping 8 billion years ago from a giant cloud of molecular gas. The longevity seems especially noteworthy as such clusters usually lose stars as the cluster encounters other galactic material.

--Tom Chao

Where the Clouds Have No Name

NASA/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center

Thursday, February 24, 2011: Cloud streets appear over the north Atlantic Ocean on January 24, 2011. These intriguing sky patterns appear when cold air blows over warmer waters, while a warmer air layer rests on top of both. Columns of heated, moist air rise into the atmosphere. The warmer upper layer forces the rising air to roll over, condensing into cumulus clouds that line up parallel to the wind.

--Tom Chao

The Last Days of Disco(very)

NASA

Friday, February 25, 2011: Space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a warm afternoon, at 4:53 p.m. EST on Feb. 24. This flight, the STS-133 mission, marks Discovery's final flight. The six-member crew will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module and Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the International Space Station.

--Tom Chao

Mezzaluna

ESA/NASA

Monday, February 28, 2011: The Automated Transfer Vehicle docks to the International Space Station with the moon in the background. European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli ("magisstra" as he is known on Flickr.com) took this photo aboard the ISS.

--Tom Chao

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