National Geographic News
Photo of the  SpaceX Dragon in flight.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully linked up with the International Space Station, as pictured on April 20.


Nadia Drake

for National Geographic

Published April 25, 2014

The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully linked up with the International Space Station, as pictured on April 20.

Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 18, the capsule, photographed by an astronaut aboard the space station, is loaded with 5,000 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of supplies. (See "Future of Spaceflight.")

Those include boring things like food, but there's also a laser, an experimental space garden, and a set of legs for Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot that lives on the space station.

The capsule will remain linked with the space station until May 18, at which point it will fall to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off southern California.

Star Trails

Photo of a building in Estonia at night with star trails behind it.
Photograph by Kristoffer Vaikla, National Geographic Your Shot

Stars shuffle in arcs above an abandoned Soviet building in a long-exposure picture taken in Tallinn, Estonia, on April 21.

Submitted to National Geographic's Your Shot photo community, the picture shows so-called star trails, which are the result of a long exposure and Earth's rotation. (See another picture of star trails.)

Glittering Galactic Quartet

Photo of a quartet of galaxies.
Photograph by X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Four galaxies shimmer in a photograph released April 23 by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the result of a new collaboration between amateur photographers and NASA.

Clockwise from the upper left, the galaxies are M101 (the "Pinwheel," in the constellation Ursa Major), M81 (also in Ursa Major), Centaurus A (home to a massive jet erupting from its central black hole), and M51 (the "Whirlpool," in Canes Venatici).

Data from Chandra (pink-purple) and the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope (red) have been overlaid onto optical images from two astrophotographers.

Project Morpheus

A photo of a spacecraft.
Photograph by Daniel Casper, NASA

Engineers get ready for a test flight of NASA's Morpheus lander at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 24.

Designed for vertical takeoff and landing on the moon or asteroids, the lander runs on green propellants, oxygen and methane.

During the April 24 test flight, this prototype soared to a height of 800 feet (240 meters) before simulating a hazard-avoidance maneuver and autonomously touching down on a dedicated pad at the north end of the shuttle landing facility. The flight lasted 98 seconds. (See "Rare Pictures From the Dawn of NASA Spaceflight.")

Alaskan Green Sky

Photo of aurora borealis in Alaska.
Photograph by Marco Brotto, National Geographic Your Shot

Northern lights blaze in the skies over Alaska on April 18 in a photo submitted to Your Shot. (See National Geographic's aurora viewer's guide.)

Auroras are caused by charged particles smashing into Earth's atmosphere; because they're charged, these particles travel along Earth's magnetic field lines, ending up at the North and South Poles. There, the particles collide with atmospheric atoms, including oxygen, which produces the green lights.

Airborne Falcon

Photo of Falcon 9 rocket taking off.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket pulls away from the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 18.

The rocket delivered the Dragon supply capsule to Earth's orbit. Dragon later docked with the International Space Station. (See pictures of the space station's observation deck.)

Star-Studded Twists

Photo of rising moon illuminating the remnants of a bristlecone pine tree.
Photograph by Joseph Thomas, National Georgraphic Your Shot

Moonlight illuminates a gnarled, ancient bristlecone pine in Aurora, Colorado, on a picture submitted to Your Shot on April 22.

"My goal this night was to juxtapose the twisted limbs that were gradually sculpted by winds over countless centuries against ephemeral clouds that were shaped by the same force in mere seconds," photographer Joseph Thomas said with his submission.

Tim Driscoll
Tim Driscoll

outstanding-photo just the way you planed it ---and the way i love it.thank you. 

Jennifer Babic
Jennifer Babic

I can sense  contact has been made with other planets - after all they've been trying to do just that for over 100 yrs - what is the latest news.

Aaron Minner
Aaron Minner

Seeing those photos, and understanding that each one of those Galaxy's contain Billions and billions of stars each, makes you wonder how we could have ever thought there was no other life out there. Life out there is been given billions and billions upon billions upon trillions of chances to exist. There is no possible way we are the only ones. I can sit here and tell you with odds like that, other intelligent life is a fact of pure mathematics. Pure and simple.

Neville Meyer
Neville Meyer

lovely photos, well done to the photographers

Adisn Dankha
Adisn Dankha

I love astronomy, and National Geographic.

Liane McFarlane
Liane McFarlane

I find those beautiful images of galaxies and stars give me a comforting feeling of insignificance.All the beauty that's out there and still left on earth, maybe we can yet get it right...

Dwayne LaGrou
Dwayne LaGrou

The northern lights will be on the increase for the next year or so as the sun peaks in it sunspot cycle. It has an aprox. 11 Year cycle of highs and low sunspot activity that is just peaking. Some of the stronger storms allow the lights to be seen as far south as Florida and the Bahamas and sometimes even further south. Just keep an eye out, You never know when they will light up the night sky.

Chrissy C.
Chrissy C.

My dream before I leave this see the Northern Lights!  That Bristlecone Pine is pretty awesome too!  To think, it's probably been here for a couple thousand years or longer!

Dwayne LaGrou
Dwayne LaGrou

I couldn't have said it any better! Very nicely put.


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