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Best Space Pictures of the Week - Aug. 12, 2012

1st Photos of Mars by Curiosity Rover

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This is the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. The panorama was made from thumbnail versions of images taken by the Mast Camera. The images were taken late Aug. 8 PDT (Aug. 9 EDT) by the 34-millimeter Mast Camera. [Full Photo Gallery]

Amazing Perseid Meteor Shower Photos of 2012

Roberto Porto

Veteran astrophotographer Roberto Porto snapped this spectacular view of a Perseid meteor over Mount Tiede National Park in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa on Aug. 11, 2012 during the peak of the 2012 Perseid meteor shower. The Milky Way and rock arch Zapata de la Reina (Queen's Shoe) are visible. [Full Photo Gallery]

Declassified! 1972 Spy Satellite Capsule's Deep-Sea Rescue (Photos)

CIA

According to the declassified CIA document, "On 10 July 1971, the third HEXAGON RV was lost. The parachute failed to reef before fully deploying, and it was snapped off at the swivel. The RV entered ballistically and impacted the water with a force of approximately 2600 g's and settled in 16,000 feet of water." Image released August 8, 2012. [Full Photo Gallery]

Mars Rover Landing Spotted by Orbiting Spacecraft

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

A spectacular photo by a spacecraft orbiting Mars has captured NASA's new rover Curiosity as it plunged toward the Martian surface under a giant parachute. [Full Story]

Striking Sun Photo Catches 3 Erupting Plasma Tendrils

Jim Lafferty

Amateur astronomer Jim Lafferty captured a mesmerizing photo of the sun as three huge prominences erupt off of its surface. [Full Story]

NASA Mars Rover Snaps Its 1st Color Photo on Red Planet

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

NASA’s Curiosity rover snapped its first color photo of the north wall and rim of Gale Crater using its Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI. [Full Story]

Mars Rover Seen from Space in NASA 'Crime Scene Photo'

NASA/JPL-Caltech

The first pictures of NASA's Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars have been taken from above by a spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. [Full Story]

UFO on Mars? No, Curiosity Rover's Awesome Heat Shield Photo

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A stunning photo shows NASA's Mars Curiosity rover heat shield looking like a flying saucer as the vehicle plunged toward the Martian surface Aug. 5. [Full Story]

Amazing Video Captures Magical-Looking Sun Storm

NASA/SDO

A video captures the sun unleashing a “filament eruption” on Aug. 4. [Full Story]

Dazzling Night Sky Over Historic Windmill

Ladanyi Tamas / TWAN

The crescent moon can be seen at dawn sitting between bright Venus, Jupiter and the constellation Taurus in this stunning photo. [Full Story]

If There's a Bright Center

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Adam Block photographed spiral galaxy NGC 5033 at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter of the University of Arizona. The galaxy lies approximately 50 million light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici. Astronomers classify it as a Seyfert galaxy, meaning it possesses an extremely bright nucleus, and spectra which have very bright emission lines of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and oxygen. Image obtained May 2012. [See more Images]

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