The "boot" of Italy glitters with nighttime lights, as seen from 220 miles (354 kilometers) above Earth on the International Space Station (ISS) last week. Part of a docked Russian spacecraft is also visible in the foreground.
On Tuesday NASA officials celebrated the ten-year anniversary of people living on the ISS. NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev were the first crew members to call the station home, spending just over 136 days on board in 2000.
Since then rotating crews have kept the orbiting lab occupied around the clock, every day of the year, for the past decade.
The nebula—which sits in the constellation Crux, the Southern Cross—isn't hot enough to glow with its own light and so is invisible in wavelengths the human eye can see. Instead the interstellar cloud of dust and gas reflects light from nearby stars. This light heats the nebula just enough for the cloud to shine in infrared.
The solar prominence, which curled up and out near the sun's north pole, was just one of three sun eruptions that took place between October 25 and 26. None of the events were themselves unusual, although it was odd to see them grouped so closely together, according to NASA.
Photograph courtesy ESA, NASA
It may look like someone misplaced a hurricane, but this image from a NASA weather satellite actually shows what's known as an extratropical cyclone over North America on October 26. These types of storms tend to form over the United States in spring and fall, when there are a large temperature differences between north and south.
This particular storm—dubbed the Chiclone in the Chicago area—swept across the Midwest last week, setting a record over Minnesota for the lowest pressure (not associated with a hurricane) measured over land in the continental United States. The storm also spawned hail, lighting, and heavy snow as well as 61 reported tornadoes and winds as fast as 78 miles (125 kilometers) an hour in Michigan.
Photograph courtesy NASA, Jesse Allen
Seasons Turn on Mars
Gullies on a Martian sand dune were carved by solid material flowing downhill due to wintertime frost buildup—not liquid water from springtime melt—according to new observations, released October 29, from the high-resolution camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Scientists examined changes in the gullies between March 2008 (top), July 2009 (bottom), and October 2010 (not pictured). Each year the alcoves at the dune's crest (upper right) and the channel beds widened during the Martian winter as material moved down the slope and lengthened the gullies (as in the top image), the data show.
Photograph courtesy NASA, JPL-Caltech, University of Arizona
Cold Gold Mirror
A worker helps roll mirror segments built for the James Webb Space Telescope out of a cryogenic testing chamber in late October. Dubbed the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb will use its 21.3-foot (6.5-meter), hexagonal primary mirror to study the most distant objects in the universe.
The mirror will be made up of 18 segments, including the ones above. Each segment is made of beryllium and will be coated with a microscopically thin layer of gold to enable the mirror to reflect infrared light more effectively.
During cryogenic testing, the segments are subjected to temperatures as low as -415 degrees F (-248 degrees C) so engineers can study how the overall mirror will change shape in the extreme environment of space.
Photograph courtesy Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA