NASA engineer Ernie Wright gazes at six mirror segments destined to become part of the James Webb Space Telescope. Taken April 14, the picture shows the mirrors being prepped for cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Once launched, the infrared telescope will be 930,000 miles (1,500,000 kilometers) from Earth and will work at temperatures as cold as -390 degrees F (-234 degrees C).
Photograph courtesy NASA
Hubble's Birthday Rose
Stars glitter like dew on a cosmic rose in a new picture of interacting galaxies, released to celebrate the 21st "birthday" of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The space shuttle Discovery deployed Hubble into orbit on April 24, 1990.
Collectively known as Arp 273, the two galaxies are being contorted into this flowery shape by gravitational effects. The bright blue "dewdrops" are clusters of hot, young stars giving off intense ultraviolet radiation.
Simultaneous auroras light up both poles of Saturn in an ultraviolet picture from the Hubble Space Telescope. Captured during Saturn's equinox in 2009, the image was released this week along with a new proposal for finding alien planets.
Seen from the International Space Station on April 2, a trick of sunlight makes an atoll off the African coast take on the semblance of a snow-covered island.
Sunglint—a bright reflection of sunlight on water—can be changed by rough seas, as seen in the difference in brightness between the atoll's shallow lagoon and the open ocean.
The Bassas da India atoll, seen above, lies between the coast of Mozambique and the island of Madagascar. Its thin ring of coral remains uninhabited because it's completely submerged at high tide.
Photograph courtesy NASA
A star-forming cloud known as Rho Ophiuchi (green) hangs above the center of the Milky Way (blue) in a closeup of an infrared sky map. Made with NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer, or WISE, and released April 14, the map represents 57 percent of the sky.
WISE surveyed the entire sky in four infrared wavelengths in 2010. The team plans to release all of the data by next year.
Image courtesy WISE/Caltech/NASA
Sand dunes reveal their complex structures in a newly released elevation map of the Badain Jaran Desert of Inner Mongolia, China. Made with data from NASA's Terra satellite, the false-color map shows dune peaks in off-white and low-lying areas in green.
Despite the arid conditions of Badain Jaran, the area is famous for the many small lakes that dot the lower elevations between the dunes.