During a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk on August 30, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams finishes the installation of a new switching unit on the International Space Station. The original unit experienced setbacks last week when misaligned parts restricted its movement. (See more space station pictures.)
Astronauts also installed a camera on the space station's arm. After helping to construct the orbiter, so-called Canadarm2 is now being used to capture unpiloted spacecraft in orbit.
Photograph courtesy NASA
Captured by the La Silla Observatory in Chile, the Pencil Nebula (NGC 2736) shows what's left of a supernova explosion that astronomers believe occurred nearly 11,000 years ago.
A supernova occurs when an aging star essentially collapses on itself, releasing its gravitational energy in one major explosion, leaving remnants of gas and debris in its wake for thousands of years.
Image courtesy ESO
On September 9, its 34th day on Martian soil, NASA’s Curiosity rover took this underside portrait—actually a composite of nine photos—as part of a diagnostic exam. Curiosity's hazard-avoidance cameras can be seen, appearing as four "eyes" midway up the rover's front side. In the distance is a portion of Mount Sharp, which the rover will study as it travels on the red planet.
NASA engineers designed Curiosity with high-definition cameras that can snap photos from as close as 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters), precisely to allow the rover to take diagnostic self-portraits.
Photograph courtesy NASA/Caltech/MSSS
Heading to the Stars
A dim meteor flashes above a monument to 19th-century U.S. settlers in a picture taken this week by photographer Doug Zubenel near Council Grove, Kansas.
Zubenel pointed out on the World at Night website that the state motto of Kansas is Ad astra per aspera, Latin for "to the stars through difficulties." He added, "This artwork of a covered wagon led by a horse-mounted rider seemingly heading toward the Milky Way captures this notion well."
Like a fireball in the sky, this remnant of Kepler's supernova lights up in different colors assigned to different levels of energy in a color-enhanced photo-composite released Tuesday.
Captured here by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the Kepler supernova erupted in a thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf. Recent study of Kepler has indicated that the explosion was bigger than scientists originally thought.
Image courtesy NASA/CXC/SAO/D.Patnaude/DSS
Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide assists in a lengthy spacewalk to improve parts of the International Space Station, including its robotic arm, in this photo released September 5.
Spacewalks from the station are usually conducted by two to three astronauts at a time, in many cases by representatives from different countries that have contributed to the station.
Photograph courtesy NASA
NASA's Curiosity rover completed a full self exam on its 32nd day on the Martian planet this week. Scientists wanted to inspect the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (pictured), among other components, to gauge the amount of dust that had accumulated on its cover.
At 24 hours and 37 minutes, a Martian day is slightly longer than a day on Earth, posing challenges to mission engineers on Earth, who keep the same schedule to maximize efficiency when the rover is in daylight.