February 8, 2010—A cloud of exhaust engulfs a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the space shuttle Endeavour lifts off during the space shuttle program's last scheduled night launch. The launch is the first of the final five launches before NASA retires the space shuttle at the end of 2010.
Endeavour and its crew are on their way to the International Space Station to deliver supplies and help install the new Tranquility node, a pressurized module that will provide additional room for crew members as well as house many of the station's life-support and environmental-control systems.
February 3, 2010—A view of the underside of the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite shows the Synthetic Aperture Interferometric Radar Altimeter, an instrument designed to measure Earth's ice sheet elevation.
Due to launch February 25 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, CryoSat-2 will monitor precise changes in the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice.
Image courtesy P. Carril, ESA
Stellar Nursery NGC 3603
February 3, 2010—Gases and dust shine with unusual brightness due to the intense star formation inside the nebula known as NCG 3603, as seen in a newly released picture from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.
At a mere 22,000 light-years from Earth, this star factory is close enough for astronomers to study how stars are born in unprecedented detail.