Best Space Photos of the Week - Feb. 11, 2012

New Look at the Carina Nebula

ESO/T. Preibisch

The most detailed image yet of the well-known Carina nebula was caught by a European telescope, unveiling previously hidden features of an exquisite star nursery.

The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) spied the cosmic landscape of gas, dust and young stars in the majestic Carina nebula, which is located about 7,500 light-years away from Earth. The lively star nursery lies deep in the heart of the southern Milky Way, in the constellation of Carina (The Keel). The image was released Feb. 8. [Full Story]

Nike Space Sneakers

Nike

Three icons of professional basketball will don special space-themed sneakers when they take the court for the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando later this month.

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant will wear special edition Nike shoes styled after NASA spacesuits and inspired by astronauts. Their fans will also be able to purchase the same sneakers as well as others designed by Nike to evoke central Florida's association with space exploration. [Full story and more photos]

Dear Mars Spacecraft Spotted

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

A NASA probe orbiting Mars has captured new photos of two dead spacecraft frozen in place at their Red Planet graves.

The photos were taken by NASA's powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been circling the planet since 2006. [Full story and more photos]

Saturn's Rings and Enceladus

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini spacecraft took this visible-light image of a crescent Enceladus with Saturn's rings on Jan. 4, 2012. Jets of water ice emanating from the south polar region of the moon gleam faintly here, appearing as a small white blur below the unseen south pole, down and to the right of the moon's crescent. (The image's contrast was enhanced to increase the visibility of the jets.) This image was posted on Feb. 10. [See more amazing space photos of the day]

ISS East Coast Panorama

NASA

The East Coast of the United States glows at night, as seen from the International Space Station. This looks generally northeastwards with the Philadelphia-New York City-Boston corridor at bottom center. The western shoreline of Lake Ontario with Toronto lies on the left edge. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, gleams as the bright spot near the center. Atmospheric limb and light activity from the Aurora Borealis appear intertwined due to an optical illusion. Photo taken Jan. 29, 2012 and posted on Feb. 8. [See more amazing space photos of the day]

China's Best Moon Map Yet

China Ministry of National Defense/Liberation Army Daily/Zhang Xiaoqi

China's space agency released an amazingly detailed map of the moon this week, marking the best view yet of the lunar surface as seen by the Chinese Chang'e 2 spacecraft, according to state officials.

The new moon map is made up of many high-resolution photos snapped by China's second lunar probe — the Chang'e 2 orbiter — and stitched together into complete view. China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense revealed the moon map during a ceremony on Monday (Feb. 6), and the country's Ministry of National Defense posted the photos on the Web. [Full story and more photos]

Sun Spectrum Light Waves - Fourier Transform Spectrometer

NSO/AURA/NSF

The solar spectrum -- both artificial and real -- as reconstructed by the Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS). The artificial part is that the FTS does not spread white light into the rainbow, but measures intensities. The real aspect is that this depicts these intensities as colors and shows the absorption lines -- fingerprints of atoms in the solar atmosphere -- that are too narrow for the human eye to perceive. [Full Story]

Brightest Galaxy Through Gravity Lens

NASA, ESA, J. Rigby (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), K. Sharon (Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago), and M. Gladders and E. Wuyts (University of Chicago)

A fluke of astrophysics has revealed what scientists are calling the brightest galaxy ever seen through a cosmic "zoom lens," NASA officials say.
The distant galaxy is 10 billion light-years from Earth and was spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope using a so-called gravitational lens created by a massive cluster of closer galaxies located about 5 billion light-years away. The distant galaxy is three times brighter than any other seen through a gravity lens, researchers said. The photo was released on Feb. 2 and posted on Feb. 6. [Full story]

LBN 1022 Nebula

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Astrophotographer Adam Block captured this image of nebula LBN 1022 in the constellation of Monoceros at the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center/University of Arizona in Nov. 2011. This image was posted on Feb. 7. [See more amazing space photos of the day]

Armadillo's Balloon-parachute Recovery System

Armadillo Aerospace

A balloon-parachute recovery system was deployed during a Jan. 28, 2012 flight of an Armadillo Aerospace rocket from Spaceport America in New Mexico. [Full story and more photos]

Mystery of Britain's Largest Meteorite Solved Mysterious British Meteorite

The Open University

With a weight that rivals a baby elephant, a meteorite that fell from space some 30,000 years ago is likely Britain's largest space rock. And after much sleuthing, researchers think they know where it came from and how it survived so long without weathering away. [Full Story]

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