Low clouds give a misty allure to the snow-capped peaks of China's Tien Shan, or "celestial mountains," in a newly released picture taken March 16 by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.
The shot captures the central part of the range, not far from where the borders of China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan meet (see map). A long valley glacier cuts like a highway through the mountains, which were created by the ongoing collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Photograph courtesy NASA
Jewel-like colors drench Holbox Island and the Yalahau Lagoon in a recently released false-color satellite picture of the northeast corner of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
Two interacting galaxies seem to strike a pose during their gravitational dance in a new picture from the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii.
The picture is the result of a student essay competition held in Australia, which asked teams to suggest a target for Gemini that would be beautiful and scientifically exciting.
The winning entry, from the Sydney Girls High School Astronomy Club, proposed that Gemini investigate the dynamic interactions of the galaxies NGC 6872 and IC 4970, in part because the pair may offer clues to what will happen when our Milky Way galaxy collides with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.
Image courtesy Sydney Girls HS Astronomy Club/U-Alaska/AAO/Gemini
As of February 2011 NASA's Kepler space telescope has spotted 1,235 possible planets that transit—or pass in front of—their host stars. To illustrate the discovery, the mission team released this picture of the stars with planet candidates, shown as dark spots, lined up according to stellar size.
For scale, the disk of our sun is also shown by itself (top right) with both Jupiter and Earth in transit.
Diagram courtesy Kepler/NASA
A cloud of hydrogen gas paints the star cluster known as NGC 371 with a rosy hue in a newly released picture from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.
NGC 371 sits in a dwarf galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite of our own Milky Way galaxy. The recently born stars in the cluster are surrounded by a shell of charged hydrogen left over from their birth, which glows with heat from the stars' intense radiation.
Image courtesy ESO
This circa-2000 satellite picture of Tassili n'Ajjer National Park in southeastern Algeria serves as a snapshot of the region's geologic history. Desert sands (yellow) fill in now dry lakes carved into ancient granite (red), while salt deposits (blue) pop up among the wind-sculpted sandstone (tan).
NASA's Landsat 7 satellite captured the false-color picture of the Sahara—released this week—using infrared, near-infrared, and visible light to reveal the park's various rock types.
Image courtesy Michael Taylor, Landsat/NASA
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has been orbiting Earth since February 2010, watching the sun with a suite of instruments designed to monitor the evolution of solar activity. But twice a year the spacecraft's orbit brings it into an "eclipse" season, when SDO slips behind Earth for up to 72 minutes a day.
During these short periods, the craft sees the sun while partly in Earth's shadow. But unlike the solar eclipses seen from Earth—which appear crisp due to the airlessness of moon—SDO's eclipses are filtered through Earth's atmosphere. This creates an uneven edge to the shadow, as seen in the above picture, captured March 29.
[CORRECTION: The original caption incorrectly stated that Earth's shadow was being cast on the sun. The shadow is being cast on the spacecraft. Nat Geo News regrets the error.]
Image courtesy SDO/NASA
Bright orange pools mark where hot lava was emerging from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on January 16, as seen in a recently released satellite picture taken by NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite.
The infrared picture presents a false-color view of the landscape around the eruption. Vegetation is shown in green, older lava flows are brown-to-black, and hot lava is orange-red.