Best Space Photos of the Week - Dec. 21, 2013

Europe's Galaxy-Mapping Gaia Spacecraft Blasts Off

ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

The European Space Agency's Gaia probe launched on Dec. 19, beginning a five-year space mission during which it will precisely map 1 billion Milky Way Stars. [Read Full Story]

New Views of the Huge Asteroid Vesta

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA

Scientists created this composite image of Vesta's crater Aelia using data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, revealing the flow of material on the inside and outside of the crater. [Read Full Story]

NASA Asteroid-Hunting Probe Opens Its Eyes Again

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's NEOWISE spacecraft snapped its first photos after hibernating for more than 2.5 years. This image of a patch of sky in the constellation Pisces is among the first taken by the revived spacecraft's infrared cameras; it shows an asteroid that appears as a string of red dots in a series of exposures. [Read Full Story]

Stunning Geminid Meteor Shower Photo

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (via Flickr)

Astrophotographer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes provided a composite image of Geminid meteors taken from Anglesey, North Wales, on Dec. 13, 2013. [Read Full Story]

Titan's Seas Emerge in Clear Detail

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/USGS

This colorized mosaic from NASA's Cassini mission shows the most complete view yet of Titan's northern land of lakes and seas. Saturn's moon Titan is the only world in our solar system other than Earth that has stable liquid on its surface. The liquid in Titan's lakes and seas is mostly methane and ethane. [Read Full Story]

Japanese Robot Talks to Astronaut on Space Station

YouTube, Kibo Robot Project

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata talks to the robot Kirobo aboard the International Space Station on Dec. 6, 2013. [Read Full Story]

Famous 1968 'Earthrise' Photo Recreated 45 Years Later

NASA/GSFC

"Earthrise," as photographed by the Apollo 8 crew on Christmas Eve 1968, laid over NASA's 2013 recreation using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) data. [Read Full Story]

Hubble Photo of Celestial 'Christmas Wreath'

NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-Hubble/Europe Collab

The Hubble Space Telescope snapped this image, released by NASA Tuesday (Dec. 17), showing the huge star RS Puppis sending "light echoes" into the dust that surrounds it like a twinkling wreath. [Read Full Story]

Stunning Image of Tarantula Nebula

The Tarantula Nebula is located in the southern constellation Dorado (Dolphin Fish),160,000 light-years from Earth. Fred Herrmann of Huntsville, Ala., captured this image remotely from Siding Springs, Australia. [Read Full Story]

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