NASA's Curiosity rover caught this vista of Mount Sharp on Mars this week. The unmanned mobile science laboratory is expected to make its way to the mountain in the near future to conduct experiments on its geology.
This image was taken by Curiosity's 100-millimeter Mast Camera on August 23. According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is in charge of Curiosity, the pointy mound in the center of the image is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high.
Curiosity landed on Mars early on August 6, after the much publicized "seven minutes of terror," in which the SUV-size vehicle was gently lowered to the surface of the red planet by an innovative "sky crane." The rover is loaded with sophisticated equipment to measure conditions on Mars and look for the elemental building blocks of life.
This pretty astral feature, called NGC 1788 by scientists, is an unusual reflection nebula (the bluish white at the center of the image) surrounded by a glowing red ring of hydrogen gas. A reflection nebula means the light is produced outside the feature but reflects off it, instead of being produced by the feature itself.
The stars inside the nebula are thought to be around a million years old, which is relatively young as far as stars go.
The image was made with blue, orange, and red filters, with the wide-field view of the Mosaic camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. The observatory is 56 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Tucson, Arizona.
Aerospace great Neil Armstrong appears in this newly released photo from 1964, with the cockpit of the Bell VTOL X-14. The craft was an experimental plane used extensively at the NASA Ames Research Center in Northern California to test vertical takeoffs and landings, in preparation for the Apollo lunar missions.
On July 20, 1969, as leader of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong would become the first person to walk on the moon, after nearly a decade of research and development by the U.S. space program. Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was a seasoned Navy and test pilot and an engineer.
Armstrong passed away on August 25 in Cincinnati, Ohio, due to cardiovascular problems. Born in 1930, he was 82 years old. Armstrong is remembered as a major figure of space exploration and a hero to many around the world.
This gorgeous image required an all-night exposure, made on a night with no moon and clear skies. It was shot on Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia, Canada.
The photographer, Kim Eijdenberg, told National Geographic's My Shot, "It's amazing to think it's really us who are spinning in relation to the stars." That's because the Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun.
The Pleiades (the Seven Sisters, or officially M45) is a tight cluster of stars that is visible to the naked eye on dark nights. Here, the group is shown through the wide-field view of the Mosaic camera on the WIYN 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona. Blue, green, and red filters were applied.
The cluster of hot, big stars is accented by blue nebulae that are formed as the starlight scatters off dust particles in the interstellar space between the luminous bodies. The stars of Pleiades are considered middle-aged, and they are located in the constellation Taurus. The cluster is among the nearest to Earth.
The Pleiades are known as Subaru in Japan, a name that was adopted by the car company. Many cultures had rich folklore about the star cluster, from the Norse people to the Berbers, Arabs, Hebrews, and of course the Greeks, who called them the Seven Sisters.
Image courtesy T.A. Rector and Richard Cool, UA/UAA/WIYN
Walk Like a Cosmonaut
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, Expedition 32 commander, works outside the International Space Station in what's called an extravehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk. Over nearly six hours, Padalka and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko moved equipment to prepare for upcoming installation of a new Russian multipurpose laboratory module.
The two cosmonauts also installed micrometeoroid debris shields and released a small science satellite.
With the recent ending of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, Russian cosmonauts will likely have to shoulder added responsibilities on the International Space Station for some time.
Arctic ice melts each summer, before refreezing in the colder months. But over the past few years, the summer melt has been more extensive than previously seen, thanks to a warming climate. Before this year the previous minimum was seen in the summer of 2007.
Scientists expect the ice to continue to shrink over the next few weeks.
A dark nebula called LDN 810 is visible through the wide-field view of the Mosaic camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. The dark part in the center of the image is made up of gas and dust and is a place where new stars are forming. A faint trail of dust and gas extends from the center of the image to the upper-left corner.
The astral feature was first described in 1962 by B.T. Lynds. This image was made with violet, blue, green, and red filters.