Space can be a wondrous place, and we’ve got the pictures to prove it! Take a look at our favorite pictures from space here, and if you’re wondering what happened today in space history don’t miss our On This Day in Space video show here!
On the edge of a crater
Feb. 11, 2021: In this image, taken by the Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, shows the southeast wall of a small crater on Mars. The crater is found just about a couple hundred miles away from Hellas, a giant impact crater on the planet’s surface. This smaller crater stretches about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) across. The orbiter’s photo shows a wide range of colors, which indicate the presence of different minerals in the planet’s surface material. — Chelsea Gohd
Tianwen-1 arrives at Mars!
Feb. 10, 2021: Today, China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission entered orbit around the Red Planet after a 202-day ride through space, as depicted in this animated rendering, captured from a video. Tianwen-1 consists of three major components: an orbiter, a lander and a solar-powered rover. The mission is the second to land on Mars this week, following the UAE’s Hope spacecraft, which entered the planet’s orbit yesterday (Feb. 9). NASA will land its Mars craft, the Perseverance rover, as part of the agency’s Mars 2020 mission next week on Feb. 18. — Chelsea Gohd
A strange galaxy lies in “The Dove”
Feb. 9, 2021: Both a starburst galaxy and a spiral galaxy, NGC 1792 can ben spotted in the constellation Columba (The Dove). In this photo, snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope, we can see the details of this strange galaxy, with blue ribbons running through it, insinuating the presence of young, hot stars and swaths of orange showing the presence of older, cooler stars.
In starbust galaxies, stars can form 10 times faster than in galaxies like our own Milky Way and when those starburst galaxies have large amounts of gas (like NGC 1792 does) these phases of rapid star production can be sparked by things like cosmic mergers. — Chelsea Gohd
Ringing in the Martian new year
Feb. 8, 2021: Happy (Martian) new year! A new year on Mars began yesterday Feb. 7, 2021 and these images show the planet shifting over into the new year. The image on the left was taken Feb. 6 and the image on the right was taken Feb. 1, both captured by the Visual Monitoring Camera aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiting probe.
Years on Mars last about 687 Earth days, as the planet takes almost twice as long to orbit the sun. This new Mars year is designated Mars Year 36. — Chelsea Gohd
Let it snow
Feb. 5, 2021: The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission snapped this chilly photo of New York City on Feb. 4, 2021 showing the city blanketed in snow. This recent snow storm was classified as “major” and affected a majority of the Northeast United States, with New York declaring a state of emergency for both the immense snowfall and blistering winds.
Copernicus Sentinel-2 is an Earth-observing mission made up of two satellites: Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B. The pair monitor and image our planet, orbiting it from space. — Chelsea Gohd
Feb. 2, 2021: In this out-of-this-world selfie, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins held his camera out and snapped a photo of himself during a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Victor Glover on Feb. 1. “Ever wonder what an astronaut sees when out on a spacewalk? This selfie shows my view reflecting off of my visor. Takes your breath away!” Hopkins wrote on Twitter, where he shared the space selfie. — Chelsea Gohd
Feb. 1, 2021: NASA astronaut Victor Glover can be seen outside the International Space Station on Jan. 27 on his first-ever spacewalk. Today, he joined NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins for his second spacewalk, during which they completed a variety of tasks including installing a lithium-ion battery adapter plate on the port 4 (P4) truss. This was the final installment in a long series of battery-replacement spacewalks that began as early as January, 2017. — Chelsea Gohd
Ready for testing
Jan. 29, 2021: The first complete upper stage of the Ariane 6 launch vehicle from the European Space Agency is seen here packed into a container to travel from ArianeGroup in Bremen in Germany to the DLR German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen, Germany. There, it will undergo hot fire testing, or tests during which all engines are ignited while the launch vehicle remains stationary. These tests, which will take place in near-vacuum conditions, will help to prove that the vehicle is flight ready. — Chelsea Gohd
Simulating space on Earth
Jan. 28, 2021: In this photo, a scientist at the European Space Agency’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory at the ESTEC technical center in the Netherlands works on essential mission work. Most ESA employees continue to work from home due to concerns regarding the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, but certain activities are still happening on-site. This lab is supporting a variety of work including the development of new radiation-resistant coatings, which are tested by exposing them to ultraviolet and vacuum-ultraviolet light. — Chelsea Gohd
Victor Glover leaves the station
Jan. 27, 2021: Today, NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins are stepping outside the International Space Station for Glover’s first spacewalk, or extravehicular activity (EVA). In this photo, you can see Glover preparing for the spacewalk, which will be his first. During the EVA, the pair will install a new antenna on the Columbus module on the outside of the space station. — Chelsea Gohd
Preparing for ColKa
Jan. 26, 2021: NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover will be stepping outside the confines of the International Space Station for a spacewalk tomorrow (Jan. 27, 2021) during which the pair will install European payloads outside the station. In this image, you can see European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen installing the Columbus Ka-band (ColKa) terminal, one of the things to be installed during the upcoming spacewalk, during a test at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. — Chelsea Gohd
An aurora from space
Jan. 25, 2021: These images, taken from the International Space Station, show Earth’s glowing, colorful aurora alongside lights coming from the cities on our planet’s surface down below. Aurora is a natural phenomenon in which colorful lights in the sky, which often appear as green, red, yellow or white, are displayed when electrically-charged particles from the sun interact with gases like oxygen or nitrogen in our planet’s atmosphere. — Chelsea Gohd.
Science and spacewalk training
Jan. 22, 2021: NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins flashes a big smile in a photo posted by the International Space Station on Jan. 21, 2021. The photo shows Hopkins with some other crew members and a pair of spacesuits in the background, surrounded by equipment, working on science experiments and training for an upcoming pair of spacewalks. — Chelsea Gohd
A barred spiral galaxy
Jan. 21, 2021: NGC 613, a barred spiral galaxy 67 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Sculptor, shows its stunning stellar markings in this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy, which was first discovered in 1798, is most recognizable by its long “arms,” that spiral around its nucleus clearly. — Chelsea Gohd
‘Do not touch’ on the space station
Jan. 20, 2020: A sign reading “do not touch” labels this Matiss experiment on board the International Space Station. The experiment tests the antibacterial capabilities of hydrophobic (water-repelling) surfaces on the space station. With experiments like this, researchers can learn more about how microscopic organisms like bacteria live in space and how the crew can keep the station clean of illness-causing microorganisms. — Chelsea Gohd
The Sahara from space
Jan. 19, 2021: This stunning, sandy, sienna-hued landscape is the Tanezrouft Basin (a desolate region of the Sahara Desert) as seen by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 from space. The extremely arid plain is home to scorching temperatures, little water and vegetation and has even been nicknamed the “Land of Terror.” This image was captured as part of Copernicus Sentinel-2, a two-satellite mission that is part of the European Space Agency’s Copernicus program. — Chelsea Gohd
Space Launch System lights up
Jan. 18, 2021: NASA’s first Space Launch System megarocket ignites its four main engines for a critical hot-fire test on Jan. 16 at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, apparently scaring some nearby birds in this stunning photo from NASA photographer Robert Markowitz.
During the test, the final trial of a series of tests called the Green Run, the SLS rocket fired its engines for just over 1 minute, less than the 8 minutes NASA had hoped for to replicate a full launch into orbit. But despite its shorter-than-planned duration, the test offered a dazzling sight to onlookers (and birds) at the test site. NASA engineers are analyzing the results of the test. — Tariq Malik
Spotting a supernova
Jan. 15, 2021: The Hubble Space Telescope spotted a growing, gaseous supernova remnant, known as 1E 0102.2-7219, from a supernova explosion that occurred 1,700 years ago during the fall of the Roman Empire. The star that exploded in the event was from the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy located about 200,000 light-years away.
At the time of the supernova event, people living in Earth’s southern hemisphere would have been able to see the light coming from this blast, though there are no known records of the event from humans on Earth. — Chelsea Gohd
Microbes and asteroids
Jan. 14, 2021: The “BioAsteroid” payload from the University of Edinburgh runs aboard the European Space Agency’s Kubik facility in the Columbus module on the International Space Station. The miniature laboratory contains asteroid-like rocky fragments and microbes (a mixture of bacteria and fungi). Scientists hope to use this experiment to understand better how these microscopic little organisms interact with the asteroid-like material, which could later inform asteroid mining efforts. — Chelsea Gohd
Watching the weather from space
Jan. 13, 2021: In this view from space captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite, you can see a heavy blanket of snowfall over much of Spain. The image, snapped at 5:40 a.m. EST (1040 GMT) on Jan. 12, shows most of the country covered in snow following storm Filomena, which brought the heaviest snowfall that Spain has seen for 50 years.
Copernicus Sentinel-3 is a two-satellite mission that, with a variety of instruments, observes and monitors Earth’s surface from above. — Chelsea Gohd
Jan. 12, 2021: Astronauts practice for spaceflight here on Earth in a number of unique ways, including underwater. In this image, astronauts practiced a maneuver designed for the International Space Station underwater at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, which is operated by NASA. At this testing facility, astronauts get completely suited up as if they were about to go out on a spacewalk and perform spacewalk tasks underwater on a mock space station.
Later this month, NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins will put their training to the test as they will embark on a spacewalk during which they will install a small, fridge-sized device on the outside of the space station’s Columbus module. — Chelsea Gohd
Jan. 11, 2021: This strange, green glow is actually a new type of star that, until recently, hadn’t been observed in X-ray light. Scientists think that this star formed when two white dwarf stars (the leftover stellar cores of stars like our sun) merged into one another, forming a new object that emits X-ray light instead of being destroyed in the collision. — Chelsea Gohd
Jan. 8, 2021: The galaxy NGC 6946, nicknamed “the Fireworks Galaxy,” can be seen in this stunning image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy got its explosive nickname because, while our Milky Way galaxy has an average of just 1-2 supernovas per century, NGC 6946 has had 10 in the last century.
“The Fireworks Galaxy,” the structure of which is somewhere between a full spiral and a barred spiral, can be found 25.2 million light-years from Earth on the border of the constellations Cepheus and Cygnus. — Chelsea Gohd
Reflecting on the sun
Jan. 7, 2021: What might look like an artistic mosaic from afar is actually 366 images of the sun throughout the year 2020, taken by the European Space Agency’s Proba-2 satellite. Proba-2 continuously monitors the Sun and, in this collection of photos, there is one image selected for each day (the “extra” day is from February 29, 2020 which was leap day). These images, which were taken by Proba-2’s SWAP camera (which captures ultraviolet wavelengths to show the Sun’s extreme atmosphere), have a number of “easter eggs” including partial solar eclipses visible on June 21 and December 14. — Chelsea Gohd
Jan. 6, 2021: This up-close photo shows a radish grown to perfection. These radishes serve as a control crop for the radishes currently being grown as part of the Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02) experiment in the microgravity environment onboard the International Space Station. This crop of radishes was grown in the Advanced Plant Habitat inside the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. — Chelsea Gohd
A new year in space
Jan. 5, 2021: The astronauts currently living and working on the International Space Station posed for a festive photo to ring in the new year as 2020 became 2021. NASA astronaut Victor Glover shared the photo on Twitter with the caption “God bless you and this new year! I pray for renewed strength, compassion, and truth and that we can all be surrounded by family and friends…” Glover flew to the space station as part of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission, the company’s first fully operational crewed mission to space. — Chelsea Gohd