Image of the Day

Liftoff!

(Image: © SpaceX)

Friday, February 22, 2019: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to deliver Israel's first moon mission and two satellites into orbit in this long-exposure photo from SpaceX. The reusable rocket booster successfully launched and landed for a third time on Thursday (Feb. 21). — Hanneke Weitering

New Evidence for Water on Ancient Mars

(Image: © ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

Thursday, February 21, 2019: A new view from the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter reveals ancient trenches and valleys on the Red Planet, which seem to indicate that the planet once had liquid water flowing on its surface. This 3D rendering of the terrain was created using data from the spacecraft's High Resolution Stereo Camera. — Hanneke Weitering

'Mr. Hankey' Spotted on Jupiter

(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill/Flickr)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019: This long, brown smear spotted in Jupiter's cloud tops has earned the unofficial nickname "Mr. Hankey" due to its striking resemblance to a character from "South Park." NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this image of the feature, which is more formally known as a "brown barge." The elongated, oval-shaped cloud is a cyclonic region in Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed this color-enhanced image using data collected by Juno during the spacecraft's 18th close flyby of the planet on Feb. 12. — Hanneke Weitering

'Snow Moon' Seen from Space

(Image: © NASA)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019: The full "Snow Moon" looms above Earth's fluffy cloud tops in this photo taken from the International Space Station on Feb. 12, 2016. Tonight the Snow Moon returns, but this year it is also a "supermoon," because the moon is at perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. The so-called "Super Snow Moon" will be the biggest full moon of 2019. — Hanneke Weitering

 A Stellar Nursery in the Large Magellanic Cloud

(Image: © ESO/A McLeod et al.)

Friday, February 15, 2019: Inside the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the Milky Way's cosmic neighbors, is a Mickey Mouse-shaped cloud of dust and gas that is riddled with bright, newborn stars. The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope captured this view using its Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument. — Hanneke Weitering

 A Cosmic Valentine

(Image: © Miguel Claro)

Thursday, February 14, 2019: Happy Valentine's Day from space! This endearing deep-space object is the Heart Nebula, or IC 1805. Located about 7,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia, this glistening cloud of cosmic dust and gas was shaped by intense radiation coming from a cluster of stars at its core. Protruding from the cusp of the heart is the Fishhead Nebula. Astrophotographer Miguel Claro captured this view from the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve in Portugal. — Hanneke Weitering

A Galaxy With Split Personalities

(Image: © Ron Brecher)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019: Is this galaxy shaped like a spiral, or is it more of an elliptical? Astronomers have long debated the answer to this question, because it seems to have properties of both.  Known as Centaurus A, or NGC 5128, this strange galaxy is located in the southern constellation of Centaurus, and it lies somewhere between 10 and 16 million light-years away from Earth; its exact distance is another question that is still up for debate. Astrophotographer Ron Brecher created this glittering view of the galaxy using data acquired from an observatory in New South Wales, Australia. — Hanneke Weitering

Sayonara, Cygnus! 

(Image: © NASA)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019: A Cygnus cargo spacecraft coasts above the clouds after departing the International Space Station on Friday (Feb. 8). Nicknamed the S.S. John Young after the late NASA astronaut, the cargo vessel launched to the space station on Nov. 17, 2018, carrying about 7,400 lbs. (3,400 kg) of supplies and science experiments for the crew of Expeditions 57 and 58. After unloading their shipment, the astronauts stuffed it full of non-recyclable trash and sent it off to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. — Hanneke Weitering 

The Milky Way Meets Mars Over Alqueva

Monday, February 11, 2019: The Milky Way galaxy shimmers over Portugal's Lake Alqueva in this sunset view by astrophotographer Sérgio Conceição. To the left of the galaxy's dusty core, the brightest object in the sky is the planet Mars. — Hanneke Weitering

The Horsehead and Flame Nebulas

Friday, February 8, 2019: Saddled up in the Orion Molecular Cloud is a horse-shaped object known as the Horsehead Nebula. This equestrian shape is a dark absorption nebula where dense clouds of dust and gas make it difficult for any light to shine through it. Also known as Barnard 33, the nebula is located about 1,500 light-years away from Earth in the Orion constellation. To its left is a bright emission nebula named NGC 2024, or the Flame Nebula. — Hanneke Weitering

A Martian River Delta

ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

Thursday, February 7, 2019: A new view from the European Space Agency's ExoMars orbiter reveals an ancient river delta where water once flowed on Mars. Although liquid water has yet to be found on the Martian surface, geological features like this delta provide evidence that water played a major role in shaping the planet long ago. This 330-foot-wide (100 meters) fan-shaped feature is located in Eberswalde crater in the planet's southern hemisphere. (You can see an expanded view of the Eberswalde crater delta here.) — Hanneke Weitering

Happy Moon Golf-iversary!

NASA/Kevin Gill/Flickr

Wednesday, February 6, 2019: On this day in 1971, NASA astronaut Al Shepard became the first person to play golf on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission. Shepard had smuggled a six-iron head to the moon and attached it to a lunar excavation tool to create a makeshift golf club. He then used it to whack two golf balls. One ball went into a crater, and he claimed the second one kept going for "miles and miles." — Hanneke Weitering

A Stormy 'Oval' Swirls on Jupiter

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran

Tuesday, February 5, 2019: An enormous storm that spans twice the width of the continental U.S. swirls in Jupiter's southern hemisphere in this image from NASA's Juno spacecraft. The storm's counterclockwise rotation is evident in an animated view of the storm, which Juno imaged when it was between 15,400 miles (24,800 kilometers) and 60,700 miles (97,700 km) above the planet's cloud tops on Dec. 21, 2018. — Hanneke Weitering

'Exo-Braking' Cubesat Deploys

NASA

Monday, February 4, 2019: A cubesat is ejected from the Japanese Experiment Module at the International Space Station in this animated GIF. The small satellite, named TechEdSat-8, deployed on Thursday (Jan. 31) on a mission to test a new technology called "exo-braking," which would allow science payloads to return to Earth inside a cubesat. — Hanneke Weitering

A 'Wading' Galaxy Forms a Cosmic Tail

ESA/NASA/Hubble/Cramer et al.

Friday, February 1, 2019: A tail emerges from the spiral galaxy D100 in this image that combines data from the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. The galaxy's tail is the product of a process called "ram-pressure stripping," in which gas and plasma in the interstellar medium pulls on the galaxy as it moves through it. It's "a little like the resistance one experiences when wading through deep water," Hubble officials wrote in the image release. — Hanneke Weitering

Mount Etna Eruption Seen from Space

NASA Earth Observatory/USGS/Landsat/Joshua Stevens

Thursday, January 31, 2019: NASA's Earth-observing satellite Landsat 8 captured this remarkable view of a "flank eruption" of Mount Etna. This type of eruption occurs when lava flows out of the side of a volcano rather than the top. Mount Etna erupted on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24, 2018), and Landsat 8 captured this image four days later as lava continued to flow. — Hanneke Weitering

Epic Winter Storm Seen from Space

NOAA

Wednesday, January 30, 2019: As a dangerously cold rush of air is sweeping across the Midwest United States today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-East satellite is keeping an eye on the record-breaking weather event from space. This surge of cold air is the result of a rift in the polar vortex, a circulation of winds that surround the North Pole. — Hanneke Weitering

Blue Dunes on Mars

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Tuesday, January 29, 2019: Eerie blue sand dunes ripple across the Martian terrain in this image from the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This dune field displays sandy features that can take on a variety of different shapes, depending on factors like wind velocity and the amount of sand present. "The dunes are arranged in a linear fashion at the northern extent of the field, first in areas with lots of sand, and then with relatively sand-free patches in between dune crests," NASA officials said in an image release. — Hanneke Weitering

365 Days of Sunshine

ESA/Royal Observatory of Belgium

Monday, January 28, 2019: This solar montage shows what our sun looked like on every day of the year in 2018, as seen by the European Space Agency's Proba-2 satellite. During 2018, the sun was at the minimum of its 11-year solar cycle, so there weren't a ton of sunspots and solar flares to observe. Proba-2 captured these images using a camera called SWAP, which stands for Sun Watcher using Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing. (You can see an animation of all the images here.) — Hanneke Weitering

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