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Best Space Photos of the Week - Feb. 18, 2012

Sky Heart over Paranal Observatory

© Julien Girard

Photographer Julien Girard drew the heart in the air with a tiny flashlight at ESO's Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. The VLT telescopes are barely visible on the hill at lower right. This image was taken in October 2011 and released for Valentine's Day on Feb. 13, 2012. [Full Story]

Vega Rocket Launches With Birds

ESA - S. Corvaja, 2012

On February 13, 2012, the first Vega lifted off on its maiden flight from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. [Full Launch Photo Gallery]

Planck All-Sky Image Superimposition

ESA/Planck Collaboration; T. Dame et al.

This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck (blue). A compilation of previous surveys (Dame et al. (2001)), which left large areas of the sky unobserved, has been superimposed for comparison (red). The outlines identify the portions of the sky covered by these surveys. Image released February 13, 2012. [Full Story]

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