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Best Space Pictures of the Week - June 17, 2012

China Launches Shenzhou 9 Mission

China Manned Space Engineering Office

One of the best space views came at the week's end from China's launch of its first female astronaut on the Shenzhou 9 mission here. [Full Launch Photo Gallery]

Secret X-37B Space Plane After Landing on June 16, 2012

30 Space Wing USAF

The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane came back to Earth today (June 16) after 15 months in orbit on a mystery mission, and its much-anticipated landing was caught on video. [Full Story

Asteroid 2012 LZ1, Seen from the Canary Islands

Slooh Space Camera

An asteroid the size of a city block cruised past Earth Thursday night (June 14), providing a rare treat for skywatchers around the world. WALL. (Hold for webcast and closest approach, around 8 pm EDT). [Full Story

Tom Sachs on WAR Bike in "Space Program: Mars."

Genevieve Hanson, NYC

The sculptor Tom Sachs has created his own version of a space base with an expedition to Mars built from readily found goods. See more photos from Sachs' "Space Program: Mars" exhibition in NYC: Full Photo Gallery]

China Ministry of National Defense

China's first female astronaut Liu Yang launched into orbit on June 16, following a long tradition of women in space. See the history of major milestones for women space travelers here. Full Photo Gallery]

Most Distant Galaxy Known

NAOJ

A new galaxy has taken the title of most distant known, according to scientists from the Subaru and Keck Telescopes.

The galaxy, called SXDF-NB1006-2, lies a whopping 12.91 billion light-years from Earth. Since its light has taken that long to reach us, we are seeing it as it was less than a billion years after the Big Bang created the universe. So SXDF-NB1006-2 was likely among the first galaxies ever made. Full Story]

Overlapping Galaxies NGC 3314

STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel (University of Alabama)

he Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a spectacular new image of two galaxies that look like they're slamming into each other, but in reality something just as rare is happening, scientists say.

In an amazing chance photograph, the Hubble Space Telescope snapped a view of two galaxies lining up, one behind the other, as viewed from the space telescope's vantage point. The image offers a rare view of the overlapping galaxies, which are collectively known as NGC 3314, Hubble scientists said in a statement. [Full Story]

NuSTAR Mission Launch Sequence

Orbital Sciences Corporation

NASA's newest space telescope, an ambitious X-ray observatory, launched into orbit today (June 13) on a mission to peer deep into the universe and study the violent regions around black holes. See more photos from the black hole mission launch here: []

New Map of Jupiter Moon Io's Volcanoes

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Bear Fight Institute

The heat blasting out of the volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io comes from a complex, multi-layer source, a new study suggests. The study reveals a complete map of Io's volcanoes. [Full Story]

Mr. Sulu Meets Robonaut

Johnson Space Center (via Facebook)

George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu) and Robonaut throwing the Vulcan salute during a recent visit to NASA Johnson Space Center. [More Amazing Daily Space Photos]

Epimetheus Beyond Rings

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturn's small moon Epimetheus orbits beyond the planet's rings. Here, Cassini spacecraft spts the moon outside the thin F ring near the bottom center of this photo, on the far side of the rings. [More Amazing Daily Space Photos]

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