Space can be a wondrous place, and we've got the pictures to prove it! Take a look at our favorite pictures from space here, and if you're wondering what happened today in space history don't miss our awesome On This Day in Space video show here!
Europe's City Lights Seen from Space
Friday, May 24, 2019: Europe's city lights gleam through clear skies in this post-sunset photo by Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques. "Cloudless night over Spain and Southern France. I imagine people dining outside," Saint-Jacques tweeted from the International Space Station. Barely visible in the foreground near the top of the image is a portion of one of the station's solar arrays. — Hanneke Weitering
'Strings by Starlight'
Thursday, May 23, 2019: The world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma treats astronomers to a starlit performance at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. For this exclusive concert on May 1, 2019, Ma requested to play in a dark-sky site under the shimmering band of the Milky Way galaxy. To the right of the Milky Way are two of our galactic neighbors known as the Magellanic clouds, which are glowing through the subtle red and green airglow above the horizon. — Hanneke Weitering
Blue Moon Above a Blue Planet
Wednesday, May 22, 2019: The Blue Moon looms high above the thin blue veil of Earth's atmosphere in this photo captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station. Because the full moon of May, also known as the "Flower Moon," was the third full moon in a season with four full moons, it is considered a Blue Moon by the traditional or "seasonal" definition of the term. The modern definition of a Blue Moon is the second full moon in one month, and the next time that happens will be on Oct. 31, 2020. — Hanneke Weitering
Sunglint on the Irrawaddy River Delta
Tuesday, May 21, 2019: Bright sunlight reflects off the Andaman Sea near the mouth of Myanmar's Irrawaddy river delta in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station. By pointing a camera at the "sunglint point," or the spot where sunlight reflects off the Earth and directly into the camera, astronauts can capture photos that emphasize the details of Earth's shorelines. — Hanneke Weitering
Jezero Crater: Landing Site for Mars 2020
Monday, May 20, 2019: A colorful image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) features Jezero Crater, an ancient lake bed on the Red Planet where the agency plans to send its next Mars rover. Named Mars 2020, the rover is scheduled to launch next summer and will touch down in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) crater in February 2021. Spectral data from MRO's imaging instruments revealed that sediments in the area are rich with minerals "that indicate chemical alteration by water," NASA officials said in a description of the image. — Hanneke Weitering
Frosty Dunes on Mars
Friday, May 17, 2019: Swirling Martian sand dunes are covered with carbon-dioxide frost and dust in this new image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image, captured by the orbiter's HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera, is the first of a new series of images that researchers will use to study changing seasonal processes on Mars. — Hanneke Weitering
A Galaxy Ripped to Shreds
Thursday, May 16, 2019: What was once a spiral galaxy much like the Milky Way has been reduced to a shapeless swarm of stars and cosmic dust thanks to the gravitational pull of a galactic neighbor. In this Hubble image, NGC 4485 — which is now categorized as an "irregular" galaxy — is being distorted by the spiral galaxy NGC 4490, located out of the frame of this image to the bottom right.
NGC 4490 is also pulling a stream of "bright knots and huge pockets of gassy regions, as well as enormous regions of star formation in which young, massive, blue stars are born," European Space Agency officials said in a description of the image. — Hanneke Weitering
A Painting of Galaxies
Wednesday, May 15, 2019: The galaxy cluster SPT0615 paints a stunning visage across the constellation Pictor (The Painter's Easel) in this dazzling view from the Hubble Space Telescope released May 10, 2019 by the European Space Agency. Also known as SPT-CL J0615-5746, this galaxy cluster is one of the farthest observed to cause gravitational lensing.
"Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a background object is deflected around mass between the object and the observer," ESA officials said. "Among the identified background objects, there is SPT0615-JD, a galaxy that is thought to have emerged just 500 million years after the Big Bang. This puts it among the very earliest structures to form in the Universe. It is also the farthest galaxy ever imaged by means of gravitational lensing." -- Tariq Malik
Which Way Is Up?
Tuesday, May 14, 2019: Which way is up in space? For the Expedition 59 astronauts on the International Space Station, it's multiple choice. That's clear in this playful weightless portrait of the astronauts taken in the station's Harmony module on April 30. Seen here are: (Clockwise from top) NASA astronauts Anne McClain, Christina Koch, Nick Hague and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques. -- Tariq Malik
Throwback to the Last Hubble Servicing Mission
Monday, May 13, 2019: On this day 10 years ago, astronauts on board the space shuttle Atlantis began the fourth and final servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope. One of the STS-125 crewmembers snapped this photo of the iconic telescope after the astronauts grappled it with the Canadarm robotic arm on May 13, 2009. Over the next five days, the crew conducted five spacewalks to install two new instruments on Hubble, the Wide Field Camera 3 and Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, along with some new batteries, sensors and gyroscopes. — Hanneke Weitering
A Cloudy Day on Mars
Friday, May 10, 2019: Grey clouds scoot across the Martian sky in this view from NASA's InSight lander. The spacecraft photographed the drifting clouds during a sunset on the Red Planet on April 25 using its Instrument Context Camera, which is mounted below the deck. Sitting on the dirt the foreground is the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, which is looking for seismic activity, or "Marsquakes." — Hanneke Weitering
Dragon on the Horizon
Thursday, May 9, 2019: A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station's Harmony module as astronauts maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture it. The Dragon arrived at the station on May 6 carrying about 5,500 lbs. (2,495 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments for the Expeditino 59 crew. — Hanneke Weitering
Saturn Shines in False Color
Wednesday, May 8, 2019: Saturn's whirling cloud formations look absolutely mesmerizing in this close-up view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill created this false-color image using near-infrared data collected by Cassini on Feb. 27, 2013. — Hanneke Weitering
The Falcon Flies on 'Star Wars Day'
Tuesday, May 7, 2019: A long-exposure photo of a Falcon 9 rocket launch shows the rocket's liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the separation of the booster and the upper stage, followed by the booster's descent for a drone-ship landing as the payload cruises into orbit. The SpaceX rocket pictured here launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on "Star Wars Day" (May 4). — Hanneke Weitering
'Pillars' of the Milky Way
Monday, May 6, 2019: In this peculiar-looking panoramic shot of the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the Milky Way appears to form two tornado-shaped columns of starlight that extend down from the heavens to Earth's surface. This illusion is the result of the photographer, the European Southern Observatory's Petr Horálek, projecting an entire 360-degree panorama onto a flat, rectangular image. In reality, the Milky Way arcs across the sky from one horizon to the other; the fact that it appears to spread out across the top of this image is merely a product of the illusions. Also visible here are the Magellanic Clouds, the Pleiades star cluster, the bright planet Jupiter and several nebulas. You can explore the full-resolution image up close here. — Hanneke Weitering
Columbus Meets the Southern Lights
Friday, May 3, 2019: A lime-green aurora lights up Earth's atmosphere over the Indian Ocean in this photo captured from the International Space Station. In the foreground is the Columbus module, a research laboratory that the European Space Agency launched to the station in 2008. — Hanneke Weitering
Galaxy-Mapping Satellite Spotted in Orbit
Thursday, May 2, 2019: The European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft dashes across a field of stars in this view from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile. While Gaia is scanning the stars to create the most detailed 3D map of the Milky Way galaxy yet, the European Southern Observatory's VST is keeping an eye on the spacecraft from Earth to precisely measure its orbit, which improves the accuracy of Gaia's star map. The spacecraft appears as a trail of dots near the bottom of the image, just to the left of the brightest star in the frame. — Hanneke
Alluvial Fan Seen from Space
Wednesday, May 1, 2019: This peculiar landscape may look like it belongs to another planet, but it was spotted right here on planet Earth by NASA's Terra satellite. The image shows streams of storm water forming a geometric drainage pattern known as an alluvial fan. NASA's Terra satellite spotted this feature on the border between China and Mongolia, where the nearly parallel streams covered an area spanning about 10.9 by 22.6 miles (18 by 36.3 kilometers). — Hanneke Weitering
Winds Blow Over the Canary Islands
Tuesday, April 30, 2019: Wispy clouds sweep across the sky over the Canary Islands in this photo by astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. It's "easy to tell which way the wind is blowing over the Canaries," Saint-Jacques tweeted yesterday from the International Space Station. — Hanneke Weitering
A Spiral Starburst Galaxy
Monday, April 29, 2019: Meet Messier 100, a so-called "grand design" spiral galaxy with bright, well-defined arms that tightly curl around its galactic core. Located about 60 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices, Messier 100 is a known "starburst" galaxy that serves as a stellar nursery for waves of new star formation. Astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile to capture this new view of Messier 100 as part of an astronomical census called Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS). — Hanneke Weitering
Queensland Floods Seen from Space
Friday, April 26, 2019: Muddy water gushes into the Coral Sea near the Great Barrier Reef after torrential rains flooded Queensland, Australia earlier this year. The European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite, which monitors coastal waters, captured this image on Feb. 10, a few days after the rainfall stopped. The high-resolution view shows sediment flowing from the Burdekin River into the Coral Sea, not far from the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. — Hanneke Weitering
STS-31 Deploys the Hubble Space Telescope
Thursday, April 25, 2019: Twenty-nine years ago today, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery used the Canadarm robotic arm to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. This view from the shuttle's cargo bay shows the iconic telescope glistening in the sun shortly after it was released. — Hanneke Weitering
Happy Birthday, Hubble!
Wednesday, April 24, 2019: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope launched on this day 29 years ago. To celebrate the beloved telescope's anniversary, the Hubble team released this new image of the Southern Crab Nebula. This hourglass-shaped nebula is the product of interactions between stars in a binary system, where a red giant star is feeding material to its white dwarf companion. — Hanneke Weitering
A 'Comet Cat'
Tuesday, April 23, 2019: From this angle, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko looks a bit like a rocky space cat! The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft captured this view of the comet in October 2014, about one month before it dropped off the smaller Philae lander to touch down on the comet's surface. At the time, Rosetta was 11.6 miles (18.6 kilometers) from the comet's surface. The cat's "ears" are twin peaks that surround a region known as the "C. Alexander Gate," which was named for Rosetta project scientist Claudia Alexander, who passed away in July 2015. — Hanneke Weitering
Easter Sunrise in Space
Monday, April 22, 2019: Happy Earth Day (and happy late Easter)! Here's what the Earth looked like from the International Space Station during one of the 16 sunrises the astronauts experienced on Easter Sunday (April 21). Because the orbiting laboratory orbits Earth while traveling at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h), the astronauts see the sun rise and set every 45 minutes as they race around the globe. NASA astronaut Anne McClain tweeted this sunrise photo from space last night. — Hanneke Weitering
The Egg Nebula
Friday, April 19, 2019: Here's a colorful cosmic Easter egg to start off your holiday weekend! The Egg Nebula, seen here in a view from the Hubble Space Telescope, is a "preplanetary nebula," or a cloud of dust and gas ejected from a dying star and illuminated by the star's last bit of light. Located about 3,000 light-years away from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, the faint Egg Nebula was first spotted by astronomers in the 1970s, and it was the first nebula of its kind that anyone had ever seen. It was then imaged by Hubble in the 1990s. — Hanneke Weitering
Beresheet's Last Photo
Thursday, April 18, 2019: This is the last photo that the Israeli moon lander named "Beresheet" took before it crashed into the surface of the moon in a failed landing attempt last week. At the time, the spacecraft was about 9 miles (15 kilometers) above the lunar surface, just a few moments before mission control lost contact with the spacecraft. Investigators believe that a "manual command" inadvertently caused Beresheet's main engine to shut down, and the lander crashed because it couldn't slow down in time to execute a soft landing. — Hanneke Weitering
It's a Giant Space Jellyfish!
Wednesday, April 17, 2019: Swimming through a group of galaxies more than 200 million light-years away from Earth is the so-called "jellyfish" galaxy named ESO 137-001. This celestial jellyfish is a spiral galaxy much like the Milky Way, but it has long "tentacles" of hot gas streaming away from the galactic disk. Scientists aren't sure how the gas is being stripped away, but NASA's James Webb Space Telescope may be able to shed some light on the origin of those tentacles by studying them in unprecedented detail after its planned launch in 2021. This view combines visible-light imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope and X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. — Hanneke Weitering
Antares at Sunrise
Tuesday, April 16, 2019: The Antares rocket that will launch the next cargo shipment to the International Space Station stands tall on Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during sunrise this morning. Tomorrow (April 17) the rocket will launch the Cygnus CRS-11 cargo spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory with about 7,600 lbs. (3,450 kg) of supplies for the Expedition 59 crew. — Hanneke Weitering
Meteor Streaks Over Portuguese Castle
Monday, April 15, 2019: As star trails circle over the Castle of Noudar in Barrancos, Portugal, a stray meteor streaks across the night sky. A thick light trail from the bright planet Jupiter inches through the sky to its right, and a thinner trail from the brilliant star Arcturus dominates the upper-right edge of the image. Astrophotographer Sérgio Conceição captured 80 frames to create this time-lapse view of the night sky on Feb. 17, 2019. — Hanneke Weitering
SpaceX Aces Falcon Heavy Booster Landings
Friday, April 12, 2019: The two side boosters on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket stick a simultaneous upright landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida following the launch of the Saudi Arabian communications satellite Arabsat-6A on Thursday (April 11). A third booster, the core stage, landed shortly afterward on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the second successful flight of a Falcon Heavy and the first commercial mission for the enormous rocket. — Hanneke Weitering
Twin Rockets Make 'Fireworks' Over Norway
Thursday, April 11, 2019: Two sounding rockets created this colorful light display in the night sky as they launched on a mission to study Earth's auroras. NASA's Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE) mission launched two Black Brant XI-A sounding rockets on April 5 from the Andøya Space Center in Norway. — Hanneke Weitering
Earth Photobombs a 'Space Selfie'
Wednesday, April 10, 2019: Earth's reflection looks like a beautiful "blue marble" on the visor of Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who took this selfie during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on April 8. — Hanneke Weitering
Starhopper in Silhouette
Tuesday, April 9, 2019: SpaceX's Starhopper prototype is seen during testing operations at the company's launch site in Boca Chica, Texas near Brownsville, Texas in this photo released by CEO Elon Musk on April 7, 2019.
Starhopper is a prototype for SpaceX's larger Starship spacecraft and its Super Heavy booster. The prototype will make test hops to suborbital altitudes to prove technologies needed for SpaceX's 100-person Starship spacecraft for deep-space flights to the moon, Mars and beyond. -- Tariq Malik
Webb in the Clean Room
Monday, April 8, 2019: Engineers prepare the optical portion of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope for integration with its rocket at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California. The new space observatory is scheduled to launch in 2021 on an Ariane 5 rocket. — Hanneke Weitering
A Jovian Cyclone
Friday, April 5, 2019: A cyclonic storm churns through Jupiter's northern hemisphere in this new view from NASA's Juno spacecraft. The swirling cloud formation looks a lot like a hurricane on Earth, with fluffy clouds popping up from the storm's spiral arms. Juno captured this view with its JunoCam imager on Feb. 12, when it was about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering