The space shuttleEndeavour bursts through cloud cover on its last journey into orbit in a photograph taken last week from a commercial airplane.
Shot by American Airlines pilot Lorrie LeBlanc with a cell phone at 37,000 feet (11,000 meters), the picture shows the shuttle as a fiery speck atop its exhaust column. LeBlanc's airplane, en route from Miami to Montreal, was the closest to the shuttle when it launched about 40 miles (64 kilometers) away. "All the other planes wanted to talk to us, asking what we were seeing," LeBlanc said on her Facebook page.
Monday's launch was Endeavour's last. After it brings supplies—and a new cosmic ray detector—to the International Space Station, the shuttle will be retired, decontaminated, and sent for display in the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
Photograph courtesy Lorrie LeBlanc
The 8,993-foot-tall (2,741-meter-tall) Avachinsky Volcano (map) is seen in a photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station.
Avachinsky's summit is seen at the left. To the right is Kozelsky Volcano, a so-called parasitic cone formed by the larger volcano's vents. (See Iceland volcano pictures.)
Photograph courtesy NASA
Dust Devil Tracks
The swirling tracks of dust devils on Mars are seen in a southern region of the red planet.
The image, made by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite from 160 miles (250 kilometers) away, shows light-colored sand dunes that had been crisscrossed by twisters, exposing darker colored material underneath.
Image courtesy NASA/University of Arizona
A Hubble closeup of the Lagoon Nebula (pictured recently in another image) shows billowing clouds of gas and dust lit from inside by massive stars. Also known as Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula is enormous—around 140 light-years long. By comparison, Pluto is about four light-hours away from the sun.
While infrared telescopes can pierce through such dusty interstellar clouds, or nebulae, to reveal the stars hiding within, optical images such as this one can show the intricate structures of glowing hydrogen (red) and nitrogen (green).
Image courtesy ESA/NASA
Volcano's Cloud Swirls
Downwind of the volcanic Socorro Island, cloud vortices are seen in a satellite image.
The spiraling patterns are known as von Karman vortices, or vortex streets, and are caused by the 3,500-foot-tall (1,000-meter-tall) volcano disrupting the south-blowing winds. (Book review: Atlas of Remote Islands.)
Image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS/NASA
The space shuttle Endeavour blends in with cloud cover on Earth as it prepares to approach the International Space Station in a May 18 photograph.