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Best Space Pictures of the Week - Aug. 18, 2012

Stunning Photo Reveals Colliding Star Clusters Seen by Hubble Telescope

NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi (ESA/STScI)

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted two star clusters that may be in the early stages of merging. [Full Story]

NASA Space Shuttles Meet Nose-to-Nose for Final Time

collectSPACE.com/Ben Cooper

Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour paused briefly for nose-to-nose photos as they were moved between the Vehicle Assembly Building and orbiter processing facility at the Kennedy Space Center. [Full Story]

Fastest-Growing Galaxy Cluster Discovered

UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M.McDonald; Optical: AURA/NOAO/CTIO/MIT/M.McDonald; SDSS

Optical (red, green, blue) and ultraviolet (blue) image of center of Phoenix Cluster, and optical images of the clusters Abell 2029 and Abell 2052. Top image taken with the NOAO Blanco telescope. Image released August 15, 2012. [Full Photo Gallery]

Space Triathlon: Station Astronaut to Compete Where No One Has Before

NASA TV

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who is currently living on the International Space Station, will run a triathlon in space in September. [Full Story]

Ultra-Sharp Color Photo Reveals Mars Rover From Space

NASNASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

A NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars snapped a new, incredibly crisp color photo of the Curiosity rover on the surface of the Red Planet. [Full Story]

Cosmic Photo Smokes Out Stars Inside Pipe Nebula

ESO

A telescope in Chile has captured a spectacular view of a pitch black cloud in deep space, a celestial home to several newborn stars hidden in a nebula named after a smoking apparatus. [Full Story]

Photos: Private Space Capsule Launch Test - Copenhagen Suborbitals

Thomas Pedersen/Copenhagen Suborbitals

Copenhagen Suborbitals private spaceflight company tested the Launch Escape System and its Tycho Deep Space capsule on August 12, 2012. The launch took place in the Baltic Sea. [Full Photo Gallery]

Giant Plasma Loop on Sun is Half a Million Miles Long

NASA/SDO/GSFC

: A NASA spacecraft has beamed home a spectacular new view of the sun, a photo that captures a vast tendril of solar plasma reaching across the surface of our nearest star. [Full Story]

Amazing Perseid Meteor Shower Photos of 2012

Autumn Clark

Night sky watcher Autumn Clark took this photo of a Perseid meteor streaking through the sky on August 12, 2012 from Chula Vista, Calif. [Full Photo Gallery]

Sword Of Orion

ESO/A. Russell

Orion, the Hunter, shines high in the Chilean night sky over the antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Taken in the southern hemisphere, this image shows Orion in upside-down orientation as opposed to the usual northern hemisphere view. However, the three stars of Orion’s Belt are still clearly recognizable at center. In this photograph, the antennas were being tested at ALMA’s Operations Support Facility, located at the slightly lower altitude of 9500 feet (2900 meters) before being moved to the Chajnantor Plateau at 16,400 feet (5000 meters) elevation. [See more Images]

Helium

Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

The balloon carrying the Red Bull Stratos capsule rises during the second manned test flight in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on July 25, 2012. In this mission, Austrian pilot Felix Baumgartner will attempt to break the record for freefall from highest altitude with a planned jump from 120,000 feet, now scheduled for fall 2012. [See more Images]

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