Best Space Photos of the Week - July 16, 2011

Busy Week in Space

NASA

The death of a comet, a solar storm on Bastille Day and the president's phone call to astronauts flying on the shuttle Atlantis all made news over the last week. Which story do you think rose above the rest? Take a look here and vote for your favorite:

Amazing Balloon Photos Show Last Shuttle Launch From the Stratosphere

Quest for Stars

The final space shuttle launch made a spectacular arc across the sky in photos taken from the edge of space by a student balloon project. [Read More]

Neptune Shines in New Photos Marking First Orbit Since Its Discovery

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The gas giant planet Neptune takes center stage in a series of sharp new photos snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the blue-green world's first orbit around the sun since it was discovered in 1846.[Read More]

Comet's Death by Sun Photographed for First Time

NASA/SDO/AIA

The death of a comet that plunged into the sun was captured on camera this month for the first time in history, scientists say. [Read More]

US Astronauts Make History With Last Spacewalk of Shuttle Era

Ron Garan (via Twitter as @Astro_Ron)

Two space station astronauts completed a jam-packed spacewalk today (July 12), the final one performed during NASA's 30-year space shuttle program.[Read More]

Boom Goes The Orbiter

NASA

Space shuttle Atlantis floats serenely above the Earth in this image taken by one of the crew members from the aft flight deck during the mission's second day of activities in Earth orbit. Earth's horizon and aft sections of the shuttle are visible, while the orbiter boom sensor system (OBSS) sits on the starboard side of the spacecraft shortly before the OBSS was remotely maneuvered into position to start survey of the spacecraft's thermal protection system (TPS). The OBSS later checked for damage caused by ascent debris or anything that might endanger the shuttle's ability to return to Earth safely.

Bastille Day Solar Storm: Anatomy of a Gargantuan Sun Tempest

NASA

How the Bastille Day solar storm wreaked havoc on the sun 11 years ago today.[Read More]

Embraceable You

ESO/R. Gendler

The Seyfert galaxy NGC 1097, in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), is seen in this image taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). A tiny elliptical companion galaxy, NGC 1097A, is also visible at the top left. There is evidence that NGC 1097 and NGC 1097A have interacted in the recent past. NGC 1097, the larger galaxy, also has four faint jets — too faint to be seen in this image — that emerge from its center, forming an X-shaped pattern, and are the longest visible-wavelength jets of any known galaxy.

Southern Lights & Space Shuttle Dazzle in Astronaut Photo

NASA

A dazzling new photo from astronauts in orbit show NASA's space shuttle Atlantis zooming above Earth with the eerie green glow of the Southern Lights in the distance.[Read More]

By the Dawn's Early Light

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image of the giant asteroid Vesta on July 9, 2011. The image was taken from a distance of about 26,000 miles (41,000 kilometers) away from Vesta, which is also considered a protoplanet because it is a large body that almost became a planet. [Read More]

Rocket's Red Glare

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-37 at 2:41 a.m. EDT on July 16, 2011 with the Air Force?s Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-2 payload. This launch marks the 50th successful GPS launch on a Delta vehicle.

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