Space NASA Image of the Day

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The Hubble Space Telescope shows a rare view of a pair of overlapping galaxies, called NGC 3314. The two galaxies look as if they are colliding, but they are actually separated by tens of millions of light-years, or about ten times the distance between our Milky Way and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. The chance alignment of the two galaxies, as seen from Earth, gives a unique look at the silhouetted spiral arms in the closer face-on spiral, NGC 3314A. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel (University of Alabama) (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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Intrepid Systems Team member Mark Curry, right, answers questions from 8th grade Sullivan Middle School (Mass.) students about his robot named "MXR - Mark's Exploration Robot" on Friday, June 15, 2012, at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. Curry's robot team will compete for a $1.5 million NASA prize in the NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge at WPI. Teams have been challenged to build autonomous robots that can identify, collect and return samples. NASA needs autonomous robotic capability for future planetary exploration. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver speaks during the kick off of the NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. Teams were challenged to build autonomous robots that can identify, collect and return samples. NASA needs autonomous robotic capability for future planetary exploration. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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Fifteen orbits of the recently launched Suomi NPP satellite provided the VIIRS instrument enough time (and longitude) to gather the pixels for this synthesized view of Earth showing the Arctic, Europe, and Asia. Suomi NPP orbits the Earth about 14 times each day and observes nearly the entire surface. The NPP satellite continues key data records that are critical for climate change science. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this view of the dwarf galaxy UGC 5497, which looks a bit like salt sprinkled on black velvet in this image. The object is a compact blue dwarf galaxy that is infused with newly formed clusters of stars. The bright, blue stars that arise in these clusters help to give the galaxy an overall bluish appearance that lasts for several million years until these fast-burning stars explode as supernovae. UGC 5497 is considered part of the M 81 group of galaxies, which is located about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear). UGC 5497 turned up in a ground-based telescope survey back in 2008 looking for new dwarf galaxy candidates associated with Messier 81. Image Credit: ESA/NASA (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, attired in a training version of his spacesuit, is submerged in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA's Johnson Space Center in this image from January 2012. Divers assisted Hoshide in this training exercise, which is intended to help prepare him for work on the exterior of the International Space Station. Hoshide and his Expedition 32 crew mates Suni Williamsand Yuri Malenchenko are scheduled to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-05M from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on July 14 to the station. Image Credit: NASA (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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This enhanced-color image from March 2012 of a region of Mars near Nili Fossae shows part of the ejecta from an impact crater and contains some of the best exposures of ancient bedrock on Mars. The impact broke up already diverse rocks types and mixed them together to create this wild jumble of colors, each representing a different type of rock. This image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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The NASA team at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans has completed the final weld on the first space-bound Orion capsule. The Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) Orion will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center for final assembly and checkout operations. The EFT-1 flight will take Orion to an altitude of more than 3,600 miles, more than 15 times farther away from Earth than the International Space Station. Orion will return home at a speed of 25,000 miles, almost 5,000 miles per hour faster than any human spacecraft. It will mimic the return conditions that astronauts experience as they come home from voyages beyond low Earth orbit. As Orion reenters the atmosphere, it will endure temperatures up to 4,000 degrees F., higher than any human spacecraft since astronauts returned from the moon. Image Credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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This colorized image from NASA’s Dawn mission shows temperature variations at Tarpeia Crater, near the south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta. Obtained by the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, data show the warmest areas in white, measuring about minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 degrees Celsius). The dark areas are the coldest, with temperatures at or below minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 100 degrees Celsius). The variations in the red shading indicate the intensity of the emitted light in the 5-micron wavelength, which is indicative of the surface temperature. The visible and infrared mapping spectrometer obtained the images during Dawn’s low-altitude mapping orbit (130 miles or 210 kilometers in altitude) on Feb. 5, 2012. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/INAF (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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In both the Earth's Northern and Southern Hemispheres polar mesospheric clouds are at the peak of their visibility, during their respective late spring and early summer seasons. Visible from aircraft in flight, the International Space Station and from the ground at twilight, the clouds typically appear as delicate, shining threads against the darkness of space--hence their other names of noctilucent or "night-shining" clouds. On June 13, 2012, when this image was taken from the space station as it passed over the Tibetan Plateau, polar mesospheric clouds were also visible to aircraft flying over Canada. In addition to the still image above, the station crew took a time-lapse image sequence of polar mesospheric clouds several days earlier on June 5, while passing over western Asia. It is first such sequence of images of the phenomena taken from orbit. Polar mesospheric clouds form between 47 to 53 miles (76 to 85 kilometers) above Earth’s surface when there is sufficient water vapor at these high altitudes to freeze into ice crystals. The clouds are illuminated by the sun when it is just below the visible horizon, lending them their night-shining properties. In addition to the polar mesospheric clouds trending across the center of the image, lower layers of the atmosphere are also illuminated. The lowest layer of the atmosphere visible in this image--the stratosphere--is indicated by dim orange and red tones near the horizon. Image Credit: NASA (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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In Orbiter Processing Facility-1 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians sitting on the Hyster forklift monitor the progress as technicians in the aft portion of space shuttle Atlantis connect replica shuttle main engine RSME number 2. Three RSMEs will be installed on Atlantis. The work is part of the Space Shuttle Program’s transition and retirement processing of the space shuttle fleet. A groundbreaking was held Jan. 18 for Atlantis’ future home, a 65,000-square-foot exhibit hall in Shuttle Plaza at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Atlantis is scheduled to roll over to the visitor complex in November in preparation for the exhibit’s grand opening in July 2013. Photo credit: NASA, Glenn Benson (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, left, along with former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Sen. John Glenn and Gen. John R. Dailey, director of the National Air and Space Museum, right, look around the Fly Marines exhibit at the museum, Wednesday evening, June 27, 2012, in Washington. Bolden spoke later at the 2012 John H. Glenn Lecture in Space History. Photo Credit: NASA/Paul E. Alers (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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This June 27, 2012, photo was taken of the Waldo Canyon fire from southwestern Colorado Springs, Colorado, looking northwest towards the areas where the fire started on Saturday, June 23. NASA satellites continue to provide coverage of the smoke and heat signatures generated from wildfires raging in the western United States. Image Credit: Don Savage Photography (used by permission) (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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The Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko of Russia and Flight Engineers Don Pettit of NASA and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012. Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers returned from more than six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 30 and 31 crews. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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Relatively few galaxies possess the sweeping, luminous spiral arms or brightly glowing center of our home galaxy the Milky Way. In fact, most galaxies look like small, amorphous clouds of vapor. One of these galaxies is DDO 82, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Though tiny compared to the Milky Way, such dwarf galaxies may contain between a few million and a few billion stars. DDO 82, also known by the designation UGC 5692, is not without a hint of structure, however. Astronomers classify it as an "Sm galaxy," or Magellanic spiral galaxy, named after the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. That galaxy, like DDO 82, is said to have one spiral arm. DDO 82 can be found in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear) approximately 13 million light-years away. The object is considered part of the M81 Group of around three dozen galaxies. DDO 82 gets its name from its entry number in the David Dunlap Observatory Catalogue. Canadian astronomer Sidney van den Bergh originally compiled this list of dwarf galaxies in 1959. The image is made up of exposures taken in visible and infrared light by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Image Credit: ESA/NASA (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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In this image from December 2008, the STS-122 mission crew members stride out of the Operations and Checkout Building, eager to ride to the launch pad and take their seats in space shuttle Atlantis. On the left, front to back, are Alan Poindexter, followed by Leland Melvin, Stanley Love and Leopold Eyharts. On the right, front to back, are Commander Steve Frick, followed by Rex Walheim and Hans Schlegel. Schlegel and Eyharts represent the European Space Agency. Poindexter died on Sunday, July 1, 2012, while vacationing with his family. A Navy Captain, he was accepted to the Astronaut Corps in 1998. During his career with NASA, Poindexter commanded the STS-131 space shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station in 2010, delivering more than 13,000 pounds of hardware and equipment. He also served as the pilot of the STS-122 mission, which delivered and installed the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory on the station in 2008. He also served as a spacecraft communicator, or CAPCOM, for multiple missions. Poindexter retired from NASA in 2010 and returned to serve in the United States Navy as Dean of Students at the Naval Postgraduate School. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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This image, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the M5.3 class solar flare that peaked on July 4, 2012, at 5:55 AM EDT. The flare is shown in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength that is particularly good for capturing the radiation emitted from flares. The wavelength is typically colorized in teal as shown here. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/Helioviewer (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 

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Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. As stars run low on fuel, they become unstable. Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star’s latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star. U Cam is an example of a carbon star, a rare type of star with an atmosphere that contains more carbon than oxygen. Due to its low surface gravity, typically as much as half of the total mass of a carbon star may be lost by way of powerful stellar winds. Located in the constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), near the North Celestial Pole, U Cam itself is much smaller than it appears in this Hubble image. In fact, the star would easily fit within a single pixel at the center of the image. Its brightness, however, is enough to saturate the camera's receptors, making the star look much larger than it is. The shell of gas, which is both much larger and much fainter than its parent star, is visible in intricate detail in Hubble’s portrait. This phenomenon is often quite irregular and unstable, but the shell of gas expelled from U Cam is almost perfectly spherical. Image Credit: ESA/NASA (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)
 
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