Space photos: The most amazing images this week!


A cry for racial justice is photographed by a satellite from space, sedimentary swirls appear within a Martian crater and a solar mission takes an incredible view from the inner solar system. These are just some of the top photos this week from 

This glittering view of the universe was taken from within the inner solar system by NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory A, or STEREO-A. In this series of images taken between May 25 and June 1, 2020, Comet ATLAS can be seen streaking down across the screen as the planet Mercury enters at the left of the frame in this view. Solar wind also makes an appearance on the left as it jettisons charged particles off the sun.

Full story: NASA sun observatory spies Comet Atlas in the solar wind. (Mercury, too!)

These swirling layers of rock in Mars’ 87-mile-wide (140 kilometers) Holden Crater were photographed by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. “Much of Mars is covered by sand and dust, but in some places stacks of sedimentary layers are visible,” NASA officials wrote Monday (June 8) in a description of the photo. “In this image, exquisite layering is revealed emerging from the sand,” they added. “Sequences like these offer a window into Mars’ complicated geologic history.”

Full story: Mars rock layers swirl in gorgeous crater photo

As of March 2020, NASA’s Odyssey orbiter has captured these six views of Mars’ moon Phobos. The bright coloring in each of these six orbs comes from the tool used to take the picture. Odyssey’s THEMIS camera is used to measure temperature variations that suggest what kind of material the 16-mile-wide (25 kilometers) moon is made of. Odyssey has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2001. 

Full story: Mars’ moon Phobos looks like cosmic candy in these NASA photos

The current social movement for racial justice in the United States is epitomized by the words “Black Lives Matter,” and a satellite recently captured them from space. On Friday (June 5), a satellite operated by San Francisco-based company Planet saw the “Black Lives Matter” message that city workers in Washington, D.C. painted in big yellow letters across two blocks of 16th Street earlier that day. The White House is at right, and Lafayette Square is in the center. 

Full story: Satellite sees ‘Black Lives Matter’ message from space (photo)

The Full Strawberry Moon of June 5, 2020, partially obscured by clouds, rises over the horizon during a penumbral lunar eclipse as spectators enjoy the good weather at La Malagueta beach in Málaga, Spain. Photographer Jesus Merida captured the lunar eclipse at its darkest phase. — Elizabeth Howell 

Full gallery: ‘Strawberry Moon’ lunar eclipse treats skywatchers around the world (photos)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope just passed another key milestone ahead of its planned launch in 2021. In a recent test at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California, the new observatory deployed and extended its Deployable Tower Assembly. This component of the telescope separates its iconic gold mirrors from the spacecraft’s scientific instruments and propulsion systems. Having that space there will allow the telescope’s cooling systems to bring its instruments “down to staggeringly cold temperatures required to perform optimal science,” NASA said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering

The waning gibbous moon rises over Earth’s blue horizon in this photo taken by an astronaut at the International Space Station on Sunday (June 7), two days after the Full Strawberry Moon passed through Earth’s outer shadow, causing a subtle penumbral lunar eclipse. An Expedition 63 crewmember captured this view as the space station was orbiting above the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the African nation of Angola. — Hanneke Weitering

The Full Strawberry Moon rises over Ponte da Ajuda, a historic bridge near the border between Portugal and Spain, during the penumbral lunar eclipse on Friday (June 5). Astrophotographer Sérgio Conceição created this composite image of the rising moon from Elvas, Portugal, at the end of the eclipse. During this subtle lunar eclipse, the moon passed through the faint outer part of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, causing its surface to appear slightly tea-stained. “It can be seen that the moon was born with a more intense reddish pink color and started to whiten as it rose,” Conceição told in an email. — Hanneke Weitering

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in this photo captured by an astronaut on board the orbiting lab on May 31, shortly before the spacecraft docked with the station. When the image was taken, the space station was orbiting above southwestern Turkey, including the coastal city of Demre, seen here as a grey area below the Crew Dragon. — Hanneke Weitering

The starry night sky is ablaze with orange airglow in this stunning, fulldome view of the La Silla Observatory in Chile, captured by astrophotographer Guillaume Doyen. This soft, orange luminescence is the result of solar particles interacting with Earth’s atmosphere, causing the air to emit visible light. 

“Airglow on this night was especially intense, with the strong emissions of orange and red light rippling across the sky visible with the naked eye, even after the sun had set,” officials with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which operates telescopes at La Silla, said in an image description. ESO’s TRAPPIST-South telescope, which famously discovered the TRAPPIST-1 system of Earth-size exoplanets, is visible in the foreground of the image. — Hanneke Weitering


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