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!
Bringing a Dragon home
August 3, 2020: Yesterday (Aug. 2), NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made their way home to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour which they rode to space on May 30. With the successful splashdown, SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission is complete and the company will move on to its first operational crewed Crew Dragon mission, Crew-1.
Training for the Dragon
July 31, 2020: NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough can be seen in this image, which McArthur shared to Twitter, at SpaceX, practicing how to fly the company’s Crew Dragon vehicle. The pair will make up half of the crew that will fly to the space station with SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, slated for 2021.
July 30, 2020: Today, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover successfully launched from Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The mission has been smoothly continuing as it begins a seven-month journey to Mars’ Jezero Crater, where it is set to land Feb. 18, 2021.
Training for space
July 29, 2020: ESA astronauts Matthias Maurer and Thomas Pesquet are at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to train for missions to the International Space Station. Pesquet is set to join the crew for SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission which will be the second fully operational, crewed mission with the company’s Crew Dragon vehicle. Matthias is training for his first flight to the space station. The details about this mission, however, have yet to be released.
July 28, 2020: The star cluster NGC 2203 dazzles here in an image by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The cluster contains a number of interesting features including stars about twice as massive as our sun. In studying this cluster, astronomers hope to better understand the timeline and lives of stars.
July 27: NASA astronaut Bob Behnken snapped this incredible photo of Hurricane Hanna (now classified as a tropical storm) from the International Space Station this past Friday (July 24.)
A comet and a space station
July 24, 2020: This striking photo showcases both comet NEOWISE and the International Space Station. This 10-second exposure image shows the space station’s movement as a straight, yellow line and the comet as a diffuse, glowing object seemingly falling from the sky. Comet NEOWISE made its closest approach to Earth yesterday (July 23).
Rosalind Franklin gets ready for Mars
July 23, 2020: Today, the European Space Agency, along with a number of partners, will analyze how ready Rosalind Franklin, the ExoMars robotic craft named after the groundbreaking chemist who discovered the double helix structure of DNA, is for a trip to Mars set for 2022.
Earth from above
July 22, 2020: NASA astronaut Doug Hurley snapped this incredible shot of the Sobradinho Reservoir and São Francisco River in Brazil from the International Space Station and posted it to Twitter on July 21. Hurley flew to the space station May 30 aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle Endeavour as part of the Demo-2 mission and is set to return to Earth on August 2.
A supernova remnant
July 21, 2020: While it might look like a cosmic, space brain, this is actually an image of G292.0+1.8, a young, oxygen-rich remnant from a supernova that scientists think has a pulsar at its center, surrounded by outflowing material. The image, taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Observations using Chandra have created strong evidence that there is a pulsar in G292.0+1.8. Using observations like this, astronomers can study the connection between pulsars (a magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits electromagnetic radiation) and massive stars.
In this image, you can see a shell of expanding gas 36 light-years across. The gas contains elements including oxygen, neon, magnesium, silicon and sulfur.
A sparkling sea of galaxies
July 20, 2020: A sparkling galaxy shines in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy, known as PGC 29388, glimmers amidst a sea of more distant galaxies. It is a dwarf elliptical galaxy, named as such because it is “small” (relatively speaking) with “only” about 100 million to a few billion stars.
July 17, 2020: This images shows the twin tails of Comet NEOWISE, as they appeared on July 5. The image, created by processing data from the WISPR instrument on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, shows a larger comet tail made up of dust and gas and a thin, upper ion tail. The comet came into view this month and skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere have enjoyed observing the comet.
July 16, 2020: The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft swooped by the sun and, with its Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), took these images of the sun on May 30, 2020. This was the probe’s first view of the sun, released today. In these images, you can see the sun’s upper atmosphere at a wavelength of 17 nanometers, which is in an extreme part of the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Minotaur 4 poised for launch
July 15, 2020: A Minotaur 4 rocket is scheduled to liftoff today from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. The mission will launch the secret NROL-129 payload made up of four top secret spy satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.
“This will be our first U.S. Space Force mission and the first dedicated NRO mission from Wallops,” said the Space Force’s Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of Launch Small Launch and Targets Division at the Space and Missile Systems Center, in an Air Force statement. “We look forward to continuing to launch national priority satellites for our NRO partner.”
Science in space
July 14, 2020: In this photo, taken last week and posted to Twitter July 13, 2020, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy works on a piece of equipment aboard the International Space Station. In the image, Cassidy works on the equipment, a deployer known as the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer, on the Japanese Experiment Module slide table.
A stunning spiral galaxy
July 13, 2020: This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the spiral galaxy NGC 7513. The galaxy, which is about 60 million light-years away, is located in the Sculptor constellation and moves at an astounding 972 miles (1,564 kilometers) per second away from planet Earth.
Electric blue clouds
July 10, 2020: Electric blue streaks through the upper regions of Earth’s atmosphere every summer in the Northern Hemisphere. They usually swirl above the Arctic in the mesosphere (about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth’s surface), but sometimes they form lower in the atmosphere and show up in other places across the globe.
This image shows an image of noctilucent (or night-shining) clouds on June 23. The image, made using data from NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) craft, is centered on the North Pole.
The X-ray universe
July 9, 2020: Scientists have created a new, detailed map of the universe, showcasing the cosmos in X-ray radiation. The map uses over a million X-ray sources observed by eROSITA (Extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array), an instrument on the German-Russian satellite mission Spectrum-Röntgen-Gamma, or Spektr-RG.
A fluffy-looking spiral galaxy
July 8, 2020: This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, showcases the fluffy (or flocculent), feathery features of the spiral galaxy NGC 2275. The galaxy is located 67 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer.
Luminous clouds from space
July 7, 2020: Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner, who is currently on board the International Space Station, snapped this stunning new of luminous clouds on Earth from the station. Luminous clouds are the highest cloud formations in Earth’s atmosphere and they appear at an altitude of 43-59 miles (70-95 kilometers).
A brilliant molecular cloud
July 6, 2020: In this image, you can see a piece of the Taurus Molecular Cloud, created using data from the European Space Agency’s Herschel and Planck space telescopes. The bright streaks in this picture show the emission by interstellar dust grains in different wavelengths. The draping pattern of lines shows the magnetic field orientation.
A Martian landing site
July 2, 2020: This elevation map of Jezero Crater on Mars shows the site in a rainbow of colors, with lighter colors representing higher elevation. This Martian crater is the chosen landing site for NASA’s Perseverance rover, previously known as the Mars 2020 rover, which is set to launch to the Red Planet this summer.
Prepping for a spacewalk
July 1, 2020: In this image, Expedition 63 flight engineers NASA astronaut Doug Hurley (middle left) and cosmonaut Ivan Vagner (middle right) helped to prepare NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy for a spacewalk on June 26, 2020. Cassidy and Behnken stepped out for a spacewalk in which they replaced aging nickel-hydrogen batteries on the space station with brand new lithium-ion batteries. The pair embarked on another battery swap spacewalk today (July 1.)
A stunning Dragon view
June 30, 2020: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy snapped this photo of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle docked with the International Space Station and with Earth’s curvature in the background during a spacewalk with Bob Behnken on Friday, June 26, 2020. During this spacewalk, the pair of astronauts swapped out aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with brand new lithium-ion batteries on the space station.
The knife edge galaxy
June 29, 2020: This new image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the incredible stretch of the galaxy NGC 5907, also known as the Knife Edge galaxy. This is a spiral galaxy, much like our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Though, you can’t see the galaxy’s brilliant spiral shape in this image as this image was taken facing the galaxy’s edge.
A flapping space bat
Friday, June 26, 2020: In this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released June 25, 2020, you can see the star HBC 672, nicknamed “Bat Shadow.” The strange feature got its name because it looks like a large, shadowy wing. But its name has even more meaning as, with new Hubble observations from a team led by Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, it appears as if the “bat wings” are “flapping.”
A space station solar transit
Thursday, June 25, 2020: This composite image shows the International Space Station as it transits in front of the sun. Made up of six different frames taken from Fredericksburg, Virginia, this image shows the space station moving at approximately 5 miles per second on June 24, 2020. Five astronauts are currently onboard the space station, including Expedition 63 NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
Cloud art from space
Wednesday, June 24, 2020: Veteran NASA astronaut Doug Hurley, who launched to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft as part of the company’s Demo-2 mission on May 30, snapped this incredible photo from the space station. Hurley’s view from space shows striking cloud formations over the South Pacific Ocean. “Cloud art in the South Pacific,” Hurley wrote alongside the image which he shared on Twitter.
Stitching together a space station
Tuesday, June 23, 2020: Author, journalist and researcher Lee Brandon-Cremer created this panorama of the International Space Station using three images taken from aboard the station by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano.
“For every spacewalk there are thousands of images taken. Sometimes a few images jump out at me,” Brandon-Cremer said in an ESA statement. “One day I realised I could stitch these images together to expand the scene and show what the astronaut sees in a broader sense.”
Spotting a “ring of fire”
Monday, June 22, 2020: With annular solar eclipses, the moon doesn’t cover all of the sun. Instead, it leaves a brilliant “ring of fire” visible around its edge. The 2020 annular solar eclipse occurred on June 21, 2020. In this image, you can see the eclipse as it appeared on June 21, 2020 from Xiamen, Fujian Province of China.
The stunning Butterfly Nebula
Friday, June 19, 2020: The Butterfly Nebula, also known as NGC 6302, is depicted here in a brilliant image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This nebula lies about 3,800 light-years away from planet Earth in the constellation Scorpius. The striking butterfly shape of the nebula stretches out an incredible distance, over two light-years. — Chelsea Gohd
Juno spacecraft swings by Jupiter
Thursday, June 18, 2020: This stunning image of Jupiter was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed its perijove 27 flyby of the gas giant. Perijove is the spot in a probe’s (like Juno) orbit of Jupiter closest to the planet’s center. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed the image using data Juno collected during the flyby which took place on June 2, 2020. — Chelsea Gohd
Space station’s “storm hunter” turns two
Wednesday, June 17, 2020: The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), which monitors Earth’s thunderstorms from the International Space Station, celebrated its second anniversary this week. ASIM, which is mounted outside the European module of the space station, launched in April 2018 and began science operations on June 14, 2018. The payload looks for electrical discharges in Earth’s upper atmosphere — known as red sprites, blue jets and elves — which appear as bright flashes of lighting that extend upward and into space. Because these events happen above thunderstorms, they are difficult to study from the ground, but airplane pilots have reported seeing them during flight. — Hanneke Weitering
A stargazer under the Milky Way
Tuesday, June 16, 2020: Under a sea of stars, a skywatcher points to the beautiful arch of the Milky Way Galaxy in this 360-degree panorama from the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The stargazer in this shot is European Southern Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Babak Tafreshi, and on the left are the telescopes that make up ESO’s Very Large Telescope array, which consists of four boxy Unit Telescopes and four smaller auxiliary telescopes. The image was recently featured as ESO’s Picture of the Week. — Hanneke Weitering
Auroras and airglow over Earth
Monday, June 15, 2020: Green and purple auroras shimmy above the orange airglow of Earth’s upper atmosphere in this colorful view from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy captured this image while the space station was orbiting above the Indian Ocean, between the continents of Australia and Antarctica, on June 7. — Hanneke Weitering
A stellar photobomb
Friday, June 12, 2020: The spiral galaxy NGC 2608 gets “photobombed” by two stars inside our Milky Way galaxy in this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Bright Milky Way stars in the foreground of Hubble’s deep-space images often appear as lens flares, like the one visible in the bottom right corner of this image. Another is just above the center of NGC 2608. All the other specks of light that pepper the black abyss around the galaxy are not stars, but thousands of other distant galaxies. “NGC 2608 is just one among an uncountable number of kindred structures,” Hubble scientists said in a statement. — Hanneke Weitering
Webb telescope passes critical test
Thursday, June 11, 2020: 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
Waning “Strawberry Moon” seen from space
Wednesday, June 10, 2020: 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
Eclipsed ‘Strawberry Moon’ rises over Portugal
Tuesday, June 9, 2020: 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 Space.com in an email. — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon spotted over Turkey
Monday, June 8, 2020: 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
Orange airglow over La Silla
Friday, June 5, 2020: 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
Star cluster ‘snowflakes’
Thursday, June 4, 2020: Sparkling stars shine like cosmic snowflakes in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows the globular cluster NGC 6441 13,000 light-years from the center of our Milky Way galaxy. While hard to count, together the stars in this cluster would weigh 1.6 million times the mas of our sun. This image was released by the European Space Agency’s Hubble science team on June 1. — Tariq Malik
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 returns to Florida
Wednesday, June 3, 2020: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster that launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station this weekend returns to shore on the company’s drone ship, called “Of Course I Still Love You.” After launching the Crew Dragon capsule from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the rocket stuck an upright landing on the drone ship, which was stationed a few hundred miles off the Florida coast. It arrived in Florida’s Port Canaveral on Tuesday (June 2). — Hanneke Weitering
Crew Dragon approaches the space station
Tuesday, June 2, 2020: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board in this photo captured by an astronaut inside the orbiting lab on Sunday (May 31). In the foreground of the image is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) robotic arm, which is attached to Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The Crew Dragon spacecraft docked at the station’s Harmony port on Sunday at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT), while both spacecraft were flying about 262 miles (422 kilometers) above the northern border of China and Mongolia. — Hanneke Weitering
SpaceX makes history
Monday, June 1, 2020: A false-color, infrared exposure shows SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and first Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts on board lifting off from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The historic launch on Saturday (May 30) was the first commercial flight to orbit and the first time NASA astronauts launched from the United States in nearly a decade. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely arrived at the International Space Station Sunday morning. — Hanneke Weitering